What is Overlanding?

In layman’s language, a self-reliant four-wheel travel over the land and across geographies is Overlanding. This is an on-road and off-road adventurous trip, wherein the journey itself is the experience travelers look for and is the goal, instead of any specified destination. The aim here is an enriching journey, where you explore new places or countries and self-resilience is the key. This road trip usually covers long-distance travel across less explored locations. Often, overlanding is characterized by self-reliance, self-driven, survival adventures, and discovery or exploring the off-roads. It involves a number of adventurous elements like wading in deep waters, crawling on huge boulders, slogging through mud or running across a dry lake bed and desert. But not necessarily. There are two broad categories of over-landers. One category are those who go overlanding as a new type of holiday or for fun & lighter adventure with friends and family. Their trip can either be self-planned & self-driven or planned and executed by expert overlanding & adventure tour operators. And the second types are those who live on the roads, full time. These travelers enjoy the need of self-reliance, resilience, and experience of the journey & adventures en-route. In the present day, the level of adventure or activities involved can be defined as per your convenience. You can plan a small & easy going overlanding tour or big and extensive one, where you travel across countries in four-wheelers, bicycles, trains, trucks etc.; the primary stay option could be camping and the journey can extend up to weeks & months. So, do not fool yourself; a weekend trip with a cozy campfire, obstacle games and travelling comfort trails do not qualify as overlanding.

This SARS-CV19 pandemic has redefined travelling or holidaying. Enjoying the journey and experiences gained while traveling across geographies hold much value. Vehicle based explorations have increased in many folds and travel enthusiasts are opting for self-driven long distance road trips and overlanding. The restrictions imposed due to pandemic & spread of virus, impeded tourism & travel but then overlanding has played a perfect savior. Travel buffs prefer safe on road long distance tours, which are either self-planned, self-driven and executed or managed by experienced overlanding tour executors.

Overlanding Then and Now

Humans have traveled from the very initial evolutionary stage for the need of food, shelter & safety and have camped for millennia. Every corner of the world has its own history that sights migrations, acquisitions & expansions. It was in the early 1900s when Overlanding originated in Australia. Routes were established and people started travelling, in fact walking, to cover long distances within the continent. These routes were primarily used to explore new grazing areas or to transport livestock for trading them in markets. Traveling on foot, these routes gradually were taken by more traders who moved across the continent to expand trade and by road builders and surveyors. Gradually, it became an outdoor-men activity trail. Thus expanded the need to travel across boundaries to the current day where it has become adrenaline gush for some and a modern holiday for others.

With the advent of technology, people have renewed their interest in overlanding and self-driven road trips. In fact it is the ease of access to technology which has made getting away from technology easier; yes an oxymoron it is. Man creating fire was a revolution for survival but today satellite cellphones and solar panels do the needful. Technology guides you access to your location and helps define route with details of facilities available and makes the travel much easy. There are many who make a full time earning by sharing their travel experiences and videos on the internet.

Where to go Overlanding

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I……
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

These closing lines by Robert Frost in his famous poem, “The Road Not Taken”, aptly explains that the less travelled road begets the most enriching experiences. Same is with an Overlanding or Road trip; the routes least explored are best enjoyed by seasoned overlanders. Nevertheless, today overlanding has expanded its wings and is no longer restricted as hardcore adventure trips. It is all about the journey. You can explore any part of the globe as overlanders and experience the geographical diversity, the weathers, the culture, the history, the flora & fauna, people & their lives and way more. It all depends what type of tour you look forward to. Drive across countries and continents and explore the off-road trails, the umpteen is yet to be enjoyed or follow the existing routes and enjoy the drive.

Overlanding across Global Routes

Overlanding enthusiasts have proved these on-road holidays are more exciting, enriching, self-resilient and sociable and also an economical way to travel countries and continents if you have time. The variation in landscapes is phenomenal and the exposure to different cultures is fascinating. You might be tasting wine in Cape Town vineyards on a fine evening and on the third day you might find yourself hiking and rowing in Fish River Canyon, somewhere in Namibia. These kind of trips are all about letting loose your adventurous spirit. Some the most popular routes of European Overland, Africa Overland, Central America overland, Asia Overland and Australia Overland are:

• Australia: Melbourne To Darwin

• The Silk Road: Kashgar To Istanbul

• Across Africa: Cairo To Cape Town

• The Pan-American Highway

• Africa – Nile Trans

• Trans South America

• Central Asia – Bishkek To Ashgabat

• East Africa – Nairobi To Nairobi

• South America – Quito To Rio

• Cape Town To Vic Falls

• Trans-Siberian Railway

• Cairo To Cape Town

• Indian Subcontinent Heritage Trail

Overlanding in India

India has its own charm for overlanders; you love it or hate it, travel in India will stay etched within you. This country has vibrancy like none other in this world. Travelers from across the globe pine to explore this coveted country. Its landscapes that expand from white deserts to lust green forests, from mighty Himalayas to deep blue oceans, has allured overlanding enthusiasts time and again. This country can offer beyond expectations; its culture, heritage, history, royalty, wildlife, terrains, food, festivals, architecture, spirituality, art and lot more. Some of the popular Indian overlanding circuits cover beautiful valleys, high mountains, rich in flora & fauna national parks, and more. The popular overlanding routes in India include:

• Southern India Exploration

• East India circuit

• Drive to the Thar

• North India & The Himalayas

• Central India Wildlife route

• Rajasthan Royal Explorers

• Chasing the Indian Big Cats

• India in Single Circuit – an Extravaganza

If you are amongst those who loves to follow the roads less traveled, then the less explored terrains of India stand tall with warmth and splendid natural vistas to impress you. All you need to do is contact an experienced Indian overland & adventure tour operator.

Overlanding Essentials

Overlanding is all about experiencing the journey, while you travel a significant distance in a self-driven vehicle. We’ve been in this domain for good long and use our experience to compile a decent overlanding checklist. This list has the most essential gears to pack before heading out.

A Vehicle, which you will literally drive throughout your trip. It can be a custom made all-in-one vehicle or a camper / truck or a SUV or any other robust 4x4 vehicle as per the route. These are certainly very attractive but then buying one and getting it custom made is not always doable. This is when expert Overlanding tour operators comes to assistance.

First-Aid Kit with Band-Aids, alcohol swabs, electrolyte packs, paracetamol, ibuprofen, diphenhydramine, antibacterial cream, thermometer, skin rash cream, spray to relieve insect bites, antiseptic cream and anything else you might require to manage minor first-aid needs. You can also keep some requirements to manage little more serious injuries such as plasters in a variety of different sizes and shapes, small, medium and large sterile gauze dressings, couple of sterile eye dressings, bandages & crêpe rolls, safety pins, splints, disposable sterile gloves, tweezers etc. The medicines must be checked for expiry and a basic first aid manual should accompany the kit.

Some extra Fuel & Water is a must carry, when the overlanding tour is solely self-planned, executed and driven.

Stove & Cooking Essentials is fulfill that urge for a warm meal before you call it a day in the camp.

Camping Essentials including a couple of chairs and a folding table makes it easy many times, especially when you want to take a break from adventures and just sit back where you are and enjoy the serene countryside.

Along with these, you need to pack personal belonging such as weather specific and easy to maintain clothes, accessories and shoes; prescription medicines, flash lights, batteries , sleeping bags, Toiletries, Drinking water, Camera with extra batteries, Maps, GPS service, compass, Duffel bags, Rope, Lighter, Swiss knife, Notepad, pen, rations, carry bags etc. are few required items.

Is Overlanding Comfortable?

Comfort is a relative expectation and overlanding is done by people of all age groups and from different walks of life. So it has many levels of comfort. It is your budget, your choice of path, type of vehicle and how much you are willing to extend yourself, which will define your level of comfort. There are overlanding vehicles with everything that a home would have like a bedroom, a kitchen, a bath, laundry facilities etc. The more you spend, the more luxuries you bring on board. When comfort is prime, you might need to compromise on your off-road capabilities. So many overlanding enthusiasts trade comfort for capability. They enjoy the off-roads with basic comforts. Another important aspect while deciding on comfort is that you cannot ignore the size of your vehicle. Larger vehicles might be good in deserts but are not suitable for steep mountain trails. So it’s a sum of many things.

Is Overlanding Expensive?

Overlanding is a very custom planned self-driven road trip that can take you across countries and continents. It need not be expensive. Rather, the costs depend on your choice of vehicle, route, travel style, speed, duration, comfort and many other factors. Nevertheless, it has been observed that the cost involved in an overlanding trip that takes you across continents, involving stays and explorations is way more cost effective than a vacation that will cover the same destinations.

Is Overlanding Risky?

Yes, overlanding can be risky if you are not conscious of your limits. It has been observed that the majority of risks in overlanding tours are self-imposed. The risks can be avoided or reduced owing to calculated planning, careful execution and most importantly, knowing your own limits. Overlanding can be safe, enjoyable and a family affair when planned and executed by expert overlanders.

Can I go Overlanding with Family including kids?

O Yes! The most fascinating aspect of overlanding in the present day is – it can be done by anyone. The boom of overlanding adventures has made this a professional tour service and there are experienced resources who can plan the trip, while assisting you with off-roading, navigation, vehicle repair, communications, camping & stay and all other requirements of overlanding. All you have to do is start, small or big. There are families with kids who initiated self-driven weekend tours and loved the experiences so much that they have been schooling kids online when overlanding for months and believe that roads teach better than school compounds.

Planning & Executing a Successful Overland Trip:

Clarity in your thought process will guide you to a staunch plan & effective execution of Overlanding trips. We hope the below-listed points and questions will make your planning process hassle free:

Where should I/we go? – List places that fascinate you. Check with your travel partners for their preference, as well. Check your map source and note the places or areas you will be able to reach within your timelines. Note the places you’ve never been to and now decide which is the most interesting one?

By when should I/ we get back home? – Now that destination is in mind, do backward calculation of timeline. This will help you plan the amount of time you can spend at different locations.

What are the available resources? – Check on availability of groceries, food, water, fuel, cellular connectivity, medical assistance, mechanic or vehicle service facilities, safety concerns and other necessities. All of these will help you decide your route to & fro and you can decide if the trip will be a circuit or a backtracking one.

Now that you have decided your route, use your GPS device and plot it. You can plot it well ahead of time to avoid last minute delays. Next is to plan your personal packing, so you should be knowing, what the roads are like, is the trail aggressive or easy going, will you encounter snow or desert storm or any extreme weather conditions etc. this time of year. Do not forget to check the weather forecast. Also plan your accessories, snacks, medicines accordingly.

The MOST IMPORTANT thing is to understand and comply with the local/ state/county policies and remain safe.