We know that most overlanders avoid taking part in organized tours, feeling uncomfortable with a strict timetable and a fixed itinerary that those tours usually mean. They want to have a much more relaxed feeling while on vacation exploring the unknown, with a chance to modify the plan on the move and adapt the tour pace to their likings.
We understand them very well, because those are our preferences too. So when we started organizing tours we thought how it could be done without becoming some kind of a disciplined, military drill, quite common for most tour organizers. And we found a good model. We just don’t conduct our organized tours any differently than when we travel with friends. What does that exactly mean?
First of all, our tours aren’t some fixed itineraries that can’t be altered. In fact, we never make two tours which are exactly the same, even those that bear the same name season after season. We believe that there’s no perfect plan, and every time we conduct a tour we try to get closer to perfection than last time, to clean up some little, maybe unimportant flaws to get even closer to pure joy for our visitors. Every tour is more or less defined by an area that it covers, and inside that area we have the liberty to improvise, using the advantage that we have decades of experience with the territories in question, and a database of tracks in excess of 150.000 km. So in all those areas we feel as if we’re in our own back yard – we don’t need local guides or translators to communicate with the population. We bring friends to friends, and connect them.
Our groups are small – from a maximum of 7 vehicles when guided by a single guiding vehicle, to 10 vehicles when guided by two guiding vehicles. That brings an easy flowing pace, with quickly developing close friendly relations between the participants, and good communication during the tour. Small groups allow us to choose some exclusive wild campsites, including those that would be too small for larger groups. And the cohesion in small groups is much stronger, as there’s enough space for everyone to fit around the campfire and have a friendly exchange of thoughts before we go to sleep.
We don’t blow whistles or insist on strict timetables. Every evening we reach a decision among the participants around what time we’ll depart the campsite next morning, and it’s usually a flexible time range spanning some half hour – we simply depart when everyone’s ready, and don’t get nervous if some people take longer to pack up than others. Just like when you’re travelling with friends.
We discuss things about local geography by the campfire, and if some participants have special wishes about points of interest they’d like to visit, we try to include them in the itineraries for the following days.
We stop often to take photos, and never rush – we try to plan the days in a realistic way, not to overstress the participants with the number of kilometres planned. We drive in a relaxed manner, solve technical problems without haste and in reasonable way avoiding any risks, so our tours are in no way the tough, hardcore offroad tours that some other organizers have built their image on. Our main focus is the beauty of nature, the geographical features, so even if we have some technically demanding details in our way, the decision to take them was made purely by the desire to reach some beautiful places that lie beyond, and not to “prove” our technique or vehicle capabilities.
We feel about our visitors as about a circle of friends, rather than just customers that require us to deliver the paid services. We think it’s not the small print in the terms and conditions that is important, but rather achieving a true harmonious relation with the people, by letting them undestand our philosophy and attitude towards overland travel even before the tour has started. That way we’re very successful in gathering likeminded people who become true personal friends by the end of the tour.
How does this all sound to you? Do you think that kind of organized tour would be something worth taking part in? If you feel so, take the next step! 🙂