This epic 20 week overland trip is the first one of its kind, a truly unique tour that breaks new ground by visiting highlights and remote areas of Eastern Europe, Turkey, Caucasus, Central Asia, The Silk Road, The Far East and North Korea!
In total you will visit 22 countries on this madventure including UK, France, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Japan.
Price: £6995 Expedition Payment + $4000 Local Payment
Length: 143 days
Accommodation: 40% camping, 60% hotels, guest houses & hostels
Transport: 75% custom-built Madventure overland truck, 25% trains, buses & ferries
Age restrictions: none, all ages are welcome
Group size: 25 is average, minimum is 15, maximum is 36
Our proposed itinerary is here to give you an idea of where we will be going and what we will be doing during this expedition. This itinerary is the ideal route we would like to take providing all political and natural situations are acceptable during the time of our travels. Situations sometimes change during an expedition so please be prepared to take an alternative route in the event we encounter any problems. It’s all part of the adventure!
Our expedition begins in Hammersmith, London, and after a short ferry crossing over the English Channel we are in France and on the European continent. Our first 2 days are spent driving through France, Belgium and Luxembourg before arriving in Germany where we visit the sobering WWII concentration camp of Dachau.
We continue on to Salzburg in Austria, birthplace of Mozart, where you have a day to explore this beautiful city or take a cable-car up a nearby mountain affording stunning views over the Austrian Alps.
In Hungary we start to notice a change as Western Europe begins to fade. A goulash in Budapest is a tasty treat on a day out exploring the city’s wonderful architecture and a boat trip on the Danube River is a great way to take it all in.
In Romania we visit Dracula’s Castle, perched high in the Transylvanian mountains before heading down to the capital Bucharest where you can visit the world’s second largest building – the Romanian Parliament House.
In Bulgaria we camp near the stunning town of Veliko Tarnovo where you can visit the impressive Tsaravets Fortress before we cross over the rolling green foothills of the Balkans heading for Turkey.
Istanbul, the city that separates Europe from Asia has it all, and you will revel in the history and culture it offers. Take a boat trip up the Bosphorus, marvel at the Aya Sofya and explore the opulent Topkapi Palace. At the end of the day soak your aches away in the Turkish baths and tantalise your taste buds with Turkish delights!
The battlefields of Gallipoli are our next destination where we pay tribute to the thousands of Aussies, Kiwis, Brits and Turks who lost their lives here in 1915. A truly moving experience.
Historic Troy is an interesting stop on our way down the Turquoise coast to the great Roman ruins of Ephesus. Here we camp on the beach and have a day to explore the ruins and enjoy the sunshine.
Pamukkale presents us with a dazzling white mountainside of natural terrace pools where we get to spend the afternoon soaking ourselves or exploring the ancient Byzantine city of Hierapolis.
Inland on the plateau we reach the fairy-tale wonderland of Cappadocia with spectacular canyons, ancient caves and underground cities carved into the geologically diverse land. Start your day with an amazing hot-air balloon ride and finish it off at a raucous night of belly dancing!
Close to the Black Sea we visit the awe-inspiring Sumela Monastery and marvel at the Byzantine frescoes in an amazing cliff-face setting before continuing along the coast towards Georgia.
Our first stop in Georgia is at the almost completely intact Roman fortress of Gonio with its 18 magnificent towers and ancient bath-house.
Kutaisi is Georgia’s second city and one of the world’s most ancient. Here you can explore the Bagrati Cathedral, the History Museum and the Old Jewish district.
Close by and well worth a few hours is Sataplia Nature Reserve, home to magnificent caves and the world’s largest collection of dinosaur tracks.
Vardzia is a beautiful cliff-side cave monastery site that we visit for a step back in time and a delicious trout lunch next to the river.
We now head for Armenia and their capital city Yerevan where you have a couple of days to explore the museums, churches, markets and restaurants that make Armenia such a delight.
On our journey towards the mountains dotted with ancient caravanserais we visit the monastery of Khor Virap with it’s wonderful location beneath Mt. Ararat before heading to the turquoise waters of Lake Sevan where we wild-camp on the lakeshore.
Winding our way north through the breathtaking Debed Gorge our last stop in Armenia is at the fabulously located Haghpat Monastery.
Back in Georgia we arrive at Tbilisi, the beating heart of the country where we have a day or two to wander the cobbled streets of the old town, visit the numerous historical churches, museums and fortresses and of course indulge in fine Georgian cuisine.
A trip to Georgia would not be complete without a trip up the Military Highway to the beautifully located town of Kazbegi situated within a stunning mountain range close to the Russian border. Hiking is the most popular activity here and the hour long trek up to the spectacular monastery is well worth the effort as too is the overnight trek to the glacier.
Our first stop is at Sheki, a lovely town nestled into a beautifully forested valley. The town was an important stop on the ancient Silk Route and is also home to the beautiful Khan Palace and a wonderful old caravanserai.
On the shores of the Caspian Sea, one of the world’s largest bodies of fresh-water, we visit bizarre mud volcanoes and the ancient Gobustan petroglyphs.
The cosmopolitan capital of Baku is an oil rich city and exploring the city’s old town filled with mosques, museums, galleries and palaces is a great day out.
From Baku we now take a ferry across the Caspian Sea to Turkmenistan. Please note that this ferry has no schedule so we can not fix dates for this journey, the ferry arrives when it arrives, usually every 3 or 4 days, so we may end up departing Baku earlier or later than originally planned.
From the port of Turkmenbashi we head east and spend our first night at Kow Ata where you can bathe in the warm waters of an underground lake.
Close by and worth a visit is Geok-Depe, site of the Turkmen’s last stand against the Russians, and today home to the futuristic Saparmurat Hajji Mosque which also contains the mausoleum of the eccentric ex-president Niyazov.
We continue to the capital city Ashgabat where it seems the current president is using the country’s wealth to build an entire city out of white marble – you have to see it to believe it! Bring your sunglasses as exploring the city’s monuments and palaces is a brilliant experience.
Heading north into the blistering heat of the Karakum (black sand) desert we camp in the dunes and have the opportunity to take a 2 hour walk to the unusual Darvaza Gas Craters. More commonly referred to as the ‘Gates of Hell’ this burning crater makes for a surreal desert experience and is best viewed at night.
Leaving the harsh desert behind our last stop is at Konye-Urgench, beautiful ancient ruins that were once the centre of the Islamic world.
The perfectly preserved world heritage town of Khiva is our first stop here where we have time to explore the blue-tiled Mosques, ancient mausoleums, glorious palaces, sky-high minarets and thriving bazaars that make this town a firm favourite.
We continue to Bukhara, Central Asia’s holiest city where it is possible to get a glimpse into the past by viewing the architectural preserve of the royal fortress and vast market complex.
Our journey now takes us through the Kyzylkum (red sand) desert where we have a chance of spotting the Uzbek nomads before arriving at the Silk Route city of Samarkand. This city of domes and minarets has some fantastic attractions including the beautiful Registan, Guri Amir Mausoleum and Bibi-Khanym Mosque.
Our first couple of days in this mountainous country are spent at the beautiful lake Iskandar Kul where you have the chance to enjoy some of Central Asia’s most beautiful scenery.
With a cool backdrop of mountains, lazy tree-lined avenues and pastel-hued neoclassical buildings, we move on to Dushanbe, Central Asia’s best-looking capital.
Our journey east now takes us to an area that has been off-limits to travellers until recently – the Pamir Highway. Regarded as one of the world’s most scenic drives we now wind our way along this extremely remote high-altitude road and take in the mountain scenery of a region populated by yurts and yaks and studded with deep-blue lakes.
This is a land of magnificent mountains and ice-blue lakes and we spend our first couple of days making our way through fantastic scenery and camping in the valleys.
A winding dirt track takes us up to the alpine lake Song-Kol where we get our first experience of staying in a yurt with a nomadic tribe who set up camp here every summer on the green pastures surrounding the lake. Horse riding, hiking and fishing are popular activities in this remote area.
We now head for the beautiful lake Issyk-Kol, the world’s second largest alpine lake. Working our way around the lake we spend a couple of days at Jeti Oguz where you have the option of trekking into the lush surrounding mountains to explore the area’s natural beauty.
Bizarre Bishkek is the capital where you can sing Karaoke at a street stall, beat yourself with a birch branch at the local baths and do vodka shots at the expats bar.
Our first day here is spent visiting bronze-age petroglyphs in a lushly vegetated canyon at Tamgaly.
Our next stop is the economic hub of the country – Almaty, a modern city with great museums and wonderful restaurants, but should you wish to escape the rat-race then take the popular cable-car up to the top of a nearby hill for a fantastic view over the region.
The desert terrain of eastern Kazakhstan opens up into the beautiful fairy-tale rock formations of the Charyn Canyon National Park and it is here we spend our last day enjoying nature and taking advantage of the canyon hiking and rafting options on offer.
We enter China via a remote western border and spend our first few days camping on the fringes of the Taklamakan and Gobi Deserts studded with the odd emerald lake.
Officially the hottest place in China, the oasis town of Turpan is a welcome break where you have the chance to visit a traditional Uyghur Village as well as the crumbling remains of the ancient city Jiaohe.
In Dunhuang we find the amazing Buddhist caves of Mogao where a few hours can be enjoyed marveling at hundreds of giant statues of Buddha, vibrant murals and multi-tiered temples.
We continue into the Gobi Desert and visit the western end of the Great Wall in Jiayuguan as well as a few amazing natural sites such as the fabulous Rainbow Mountains.
At Bingling Si we discover a series of Buddhist sculptures carved into caves within a canyon along the Yellow River where a precarious wooden walkway allows you to get close to some of the hidden cliff-face caves and the giant Maitreya Buddha.
In Tianshui we visit the Maiji caves where thousands of statues and frescoes remain within the grotto.
Xian gives you the opportunity to visit the famous Terracotta Warriors and see the archaeologists at work uncovering new finds.
We continue to the well-preserved ancient walled city of Pingyao where we spend a day exploring the atmospheric cobbled streets of this typically Chinese town.
On our way to Beijing we visit the iconic Great Wall of China before spending a couple of days in the capital exploring Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and the amazing museums.
Please note: from Beijing we say goodbye to our Madventure expedition vehicle and we will be continuing to Tokyo via local trains, buses and ferries.
The high speed bullet train now takes us east to the city of Dandong where we spend a night in a hotel before departing for North Korea the following morning.
Today is the start of our journey into one of the world’s most secretive states where you will get to enjoy a weeklong adventure few people in the world ever experience.
Our first day in North Korea is spent on a train travelling through the countryside before arriving into Pyongyang where we check into our hotel and enjoy a Korean dinner before having drinks in the hotel’s top floor revolving bar offering great views over the capital.
Pyongyang will be our base for the next 3 days from where we will make day excursions to some of the country’s highlights including the beautiful Mt. Myohang where the International Friendship Exhibition Hall displays over 100,000 gifts given to North Korean leaders by various leading world figures. Close by we also visit the 11th century Pohyon Temple, one of the country’s few remaining Buddhist temples.
Another excursion takes us to the North/South Korea border where military personnel give us a tour of the area including a visit to the Armistice Hall where the truce was signed at the end of the Korean War. Nearby at Kaesong we will enjoy a traditional Korean lunch and also visit the Koryo History Museum and the Tomb of King Wang Gwon.
We now take a full day to explore Pyongyang and visit sites such as the Arch of Triumph, Tower of Juche Idea, giant bronze statues of the Dear Leaders and the Korean War Museum, but the highlight here is surely the Kumsunsan Memorial Palace where the bodies of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il lie in state. An optional visit to the Pyongyang circus is highly recommended before we end our day at the famous Duck BBQ restaurant.
We now venture to the east coast and along the way visit the tomb of King Tongmyong before arriving at the resort town of Wonsan where you will be able to enjoy the beach with local holidaymakers.
At Kumgang National Park you will have the opportunity to climb the country’s 2nd highest peak as well as explore the numerous walking trails and waterfalls that make the park so scenic.
Our final night is spent back in Pyongyang where you are free to sample a few beers from the hotel’s microbrewery, share a farewell dinner with our Korean guides and peruse the hotel’s gift shop which sells classic propaganda posters and an array of very unusual souvenirs.
From Pyongyang we now catch a train back to Dandong in China where we have time to visit the most easterly part of the Great Wall before catching an overnight ferry to South Korea.
We arrive into South Korea by ferry and head straight to the capital Seoul where we will have 3 days to explore this vibrant city’s highlights. By day you can visit the city’s 5 Palaces and witness the Royal Guard Changing Ceremony, wander the alleys of the 600 year old Bukchon Hanok Village and explore the trails of Bukhansan National Park. By night you can feast on a traditional Korean BBQ, indulge in a few cocktails unique to Korea and then head to the bright lights of Gangnam where you will find the country’s best nightclubs!
A few hours away on the east coast we reach the waterfront city of Sokcho which is well-known for its fresh seafood restaurants. From here you also have a full day to explore the iconic Seoraksan National Park, probably the most beautiful park on the Korean peninsula, not only famous for its awesome peaks but also for its 2 stately Buddhist temples.
Travelling south we reach the historic town of Gyeongju known locally as ‘the museum without walls’. Here we have 2 full days to explore a Korean gem packed with traditional architecture, tombs, temples, rock carvings and crumbling palaces.
Our final destination is Busan, a bustling port city home to the country’s largest seafood market, scenic coastal walkways, magnificent inner-city temples and the colourful Gamcheon Cultural Village.
From Busan we now take a ferry to Japan.
We arrive in Japan by ferry from South Korea and our first couple of nights are spent in Fukuoka, a welcoming city boasting the 234m tall Fukuoka Tower, Buddhist temples, castle ruins and art galleries, but the absolute must-do here is to enjoy a meal at one of the city’s ramen (noodle) restaurants for a taste sensation like no other!
We continue to Hiroshima, the target of the world’s first atomic bomb. Far from being a depressing place, present-day Hiroshima is a vibrant city and the Peace Memorial Park & Museum will definitely move you with its powerful message of peace.
Osaka is a modern city of dazzling neon billboards, craft beer pubs, sushi restaurants and izakayas (informal pub eateries) but should you wish to take a step back in time you can visit the nearby ancient town of Nara, Japan’s first capital crammed full of Buddhist temples, shrines and museums with the highlight being the awe-inspiring Daibutsu, an 8th century statue of the Great Buddha made from 437 tonnes of bronze and 130kg of gold!
Kyoto is the spiritual heart of Japan, home to great masterpieces of religious architecture where robed monks still wander through Zen gardens and prayer chants float through air heavy with incense. Take the time to visit a traditional teahouse, wander the historic streets filled with artisans stores and be sure to try the delicate tempura as this is a town of culture and cuisine.
Takayama is a delightful 17th century town perched high in the Japanese Alps best explored on foot to appreciate the fine wooden architecture and friendly feel of the centre. The nearby Hida Folk Village is worth a few hours to see what rural Japanese life was like centuries ago and a drink at the atmospheric Desolation Row rock bar is a good way to end the day.
Matsumoto is a cosmopolitan town with great views of the Alps and pretty streets filled with cafes and galleries but the highlight here is Matsumoto-jo, Japan’s oldest wooden castle dating back to 1595. The castle is a designated National Treasure so be sure to visit and climb the steep stairs all the way up to the top floor for great views of the surrounding area.
Yudanaka Onsen is a hot spring resort which we visit not only to soak ourselves in these natural pools but also to visit the nearby Jigokudani Monkey Park where you have the chance to see the wild Japanese Snow Monkeys bathing in the hot springs.
Our final destination on this tour is Tokyo where we base ourselves in the dazzling Shinjuku district, the nightlife hub of the city famous for bizarre robot restaurants, giant Godzilla statues, fantastic cosplay parks and all-night karaoke parlors. This is also a good place to book an optional day trip to Mt Fuji. The Golden Gai labyrinth of rickety wooden bars is a perfect place for us to have our farewell night and say goodbye to our fellow adventurers who have travelled with us from London to Tokyo Overland!
This tour ends in Tokyo after breakfast on the final morning of the trip.
How to Book
To make a booking please fill in our online booking form and then pay a £300 deposit by direct transfer or Paypal, or call us to pay using your credit or debit card over the phone. Once we receive your online booking form and deposit we will confirm your booking by email and send you all relevant information necessary for your expedition preparations.
The Expedition Payment of £6995 is the main bulk payment for your expedition and is payable in the U.K. in GBP (£ Sterling). In order to reserve a place on this expedition you must pay £300 as a deposit. Eight months prior to departure a further payment of £3000 must be paid to secure your booking. The final balance of your Expedition Payment £3695 must then be paid in full at least four months prior to the expedition start date. If you book between 4 to 8 months prior to the departure date a deposit of £3300 should be paid upon booking. If you book within 4 months of the departure date the full Expedition Payment of £6995 should be paid upon booking.
The Expedition Payment can be paid by direct bank transfer, Paypal or credit/debit card.
Bank Details for Direct Transfers
NOTE: Please use your full name as a reference when paying by direct transfer.
Account name: Madventure Ltd.
Sort code: 400810
Account number: 91618415
IBAN : GB14HBUK40081091618415
Swift/Bank BIC: HBUKGB4B
Branch BIC: HBUKGB4116A
Bank address: HSBC Bank, 6 High Street, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, OX14 5AZ, United Kingdom
Paypal account name: email@example.com
This is a cash payment of USD $4000 that must be paid to your expedition leader at the beginning of your trip and will be used to pay for all expenses while you are on the road.
Please bear in mind that this is not a kitty and is not refundable. The local payment is simply a way for us to get cash to the expedition leaders so they can run the trip.
Please bring your local payment in new unmarked $100 bills if possible.
Although all local payment amounts are advertised in USD you may be asked to bring the equivalent amount in either Euros or GBP.
We realise that not everyone is going to visit every site or take part in every activity along the way so we have left most of these activities as optional and therefore kept the expedition payment to a minimum.
Below is a list of the most popular optional excursions along with the most recent prices. Prices can of course change and are not controlled in any way by Madventure so please use the list below as an approximate guide only.
Dachau concentration camp, Germany Free
Hangar 7 (Red Bull Museum), Salzburg Free
Mozart’s House, Salzburg £8
Hop-on-hop-off bus tour & Danube River cruise, Budapest £20
Dracula’s Castle, Transylvania £6
Bucharest walking tour Free
Tsarevets Fortress, Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria £2
Blue Mosque, Istanbul Free
3 day Istanbul Museums pass £20
Underground Cistern, Istanbul £5
Bosphorus boat cruise, Istanbul £12
Gallipoli museum £4
Gallipoli sites tour Free
Troy Ruins £5
Ephesus Ruins, Selcuk £8
Pamukkale calcium pools £6
Ilhara Valley Walk, Cappadocia £5
Ballooning, Cappadocia £100
Zelve open air museum, Goreme £5
Underground city, Cappadocia £5
Belly-dancing evening, Cappadocia £20
Sumela monastery, Black Sea Coast £5
Gonio Fortress, Batumi £1
Sataplia National park £2
Bagrati Cathedral, Kutaisi Free
Vardzia cave Monastery complex £1
Narikala Fortress, Tbilisi Free
Ananuri Fortress Free
Kazbegi day hike Free
Genocide Museum, Yerevan Free
Erebuni Fortress & Museum, Yerevan £2
Cascade Museum, Yerevan Free
Khor Virap Monastery, Mt. Ararat Free
Haghpat Monastery, Debed Canyon £2
Sheki Caravanserai Free
Khan’s Palace, Sheki £2
Palace of the Shiranshas, Baku £2
Carpet museum, Baku £3
Gobustan petroglyphs, Caspian Sea £3
Mud volcanoes, Caspian Sea Free
Saparmurat Hajji Mosque, Ashgabat Free
Hike to Darvaza Gas Crater Free
Jeep to Darvaza Gas Crater £10
Konye Urgench ruins £5
Khiva highlights pass £12
Bukhara walking tour Free
Registan, Samarkand £7
Hike round lake Iskander Kul Free
Pamir Highway Free
Yurt stay, Lake Song Kol Free
Horse riding (per hour), Lake Song Kol £3
Jeti Oghuz hike Free
Tamgaly petroglyphs £10
Cable Car, Almaty £3
Uighur Old Village, Turpan £4
Jiaohe ruins, Turpan £4
Mogao caves, Dunhuang £25
Rainbow mountain day trip £20
West end of Great Wall, Jiayuguan £6
Bingling Si caves £5
Terracotta Warriors, Xian £15
Pingyao city pass £15
Forbidden City, Beijing £6
Great Wall, Beijing £5
Great Wall, Dandong £7
Mt. Myohang Free
DMZ border tour Free
Pyongyang day tour Free
Kumsunsan Memorial Palace Free
Kumgang National Park Free
Seoul half day tour £30
Bukhansan NP Free
Seoraksan NP £3
Gyeongju full day tour by hop on hop off bus £15
Busan full day tour £30
Fukuoka Tower £6
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park Museum £2
Nara ancient town Free
Hida Folk Village £6
Matsumoto-jo Castle £5
Jigokudani Monkey Park £6
Mt. Fuji day tour £50
Shinjuku robot restaurant £60
We will be travelling in a purpose-built Madventure overland vehicle approximately 75% of the time on this expedition. A standard bus simply wouldn’t be able to tackle many of the roads we travel on. For the other 25% of the time (from Beijing to Tokyo) we will be travelling on local trains, buses and ferries.
The overland vehicle we use is a custom-built expedition truck which can accommodate up to 36 people although most of our expeditions travel with approximately 25 people.
Comfort and safety is of course a big factor during expeditions of this length and nature so all our vehicles have high-backed coach seats with safety belts. The seating is on the upper level of the vehicle giving you an almost 360° view of the surrounding scenery.
Our vehicles are designed to allow sufficient luggage storage and are also equipped with lockers to keep all your gear safe.
Our long range diesel and water tanks ensure our self sufficiency in remote areas and the equipment we take with us is also of vital importance. In case of a breakdown we are equipped with a good selection of spare parts as well as a comprehensive tool kit to undertake any necessary repairs on our own as and when we need to.
There may also be times when we get stuck in the sand or mud when travelling off road so all necessary recovery equipment such as sand mats, cables, ropes, shovels and pickaxes are also on board.
We spend a lot of nights around the campfire so we take along good axes and saws for the times when we have to replenish our wood supply.
We usually carry 500 litres of treated drinking water and we are equipped with a good kitchen which includes all cutlery, plates, cups, pots and pans, utensils, gas cooker, BBQ grate, etc.
All our vehicles are equipped with a small fridge which is used for the cook groups food only. For personal food & drinks we have cooler boxes for everyone to use.
Fold up chairs are provided for outdoor seating and we also have a large tarpaulin to keep us dry on those rainy days.
Our vehicles are equipped with USB charging points only so try and bring all of your important electronic devices such as telephone, tablet and head-torch to charge from a USB socket. We do not have a 120V or 240V power supply on the vehicle but you will have the opportunity to charge your 120/240V electronic equipment when we stay at campsites and hotels.
We carry solar showers and a toilet tent with us for those times when we are bush camping without amenities.
We carry a comprehensive first aid kit for emergencies but we do recommend you bring your own for general use.
Eating well is a very important factor on our expeditions and good food is vital for everyone’s health and well-being so we always strive to provide healthy, wholesome and plentiful meals.
We will be cooking a lot of meals ourselves using our kitchen on the truck. When we are camping we usually eat breakfast and the evening meal from the truck. For lunch we usually stop at a cheap local restaurant giving you a chance to taste the local fare too. Lunches are at your own expense. Occasionally we may prepare lunch on the truck when we are in remote areas.
When we are staying in hotels, guest houses & hostels (usually in cities) it is often impractical to cook on the truck so during these times we will provide you with an average of one meal per day, usually breakfast at the hotel. Lunches & evening meals are usually not provided while staying in hotels so they are at your own expense. Local food is generally very cheap so if you are on a budget then eat what the locals eat. Western restaurants tend to be more expensive.
North Korea is an exception and all meals will be provided during our week there.
When it comes to shopping and cooking for the times when we are camping we will divide ourselves up into groups of 3 or 4 people (depending on group size) who will shop for and prepare the day’s meals and clean up at the end. This will work out that you roughly get to cook once a week (depending on numbers).
Fresh food is generally available daily so we try and eat meat and vegetables for every main evening meal. We do also cater for vegetarians but we cannot cater for fussiness. In these group situations everybody must appreciate we cannot cater for individual likes and dislikes.
Don’t worry if you are not a gourmet cook as your crew are also always there to give advice.
All our vehicles are equipped with a small fridge which is used for the cook groups food only. For personal food & drinks we have cooler boxes for everyone to use.
Cleanliness plays an important role throughout this expedition and your crew will make sure an acceptable level of general hygiene is maintained throughout your journey to ensure the wellbeing of the group.
You will spend 40% of your time on this expedition in your tent camping and 60% of your time staying in local hotels, guest houses and hostels.
Quite often we will camp by ourselves out in the bush or in the desert and other times we will use designated campsites with amenities. The majority of our bush camp locations are usually very scenic and we always strive to find the perfect spot on the banks of a river, overlooking a canyon, behind a dune in the desert, etc. but sometimes we just have to camp wherever we can find a spot.
From past experience on expeditions of this length and nature we have found that people prefer to supply their own tents as they are then not forced to share and they can pick a tent that suits their needs. As a general rule, try and choose a good quality lightweight and waterproof free-standing tent that is easy to erect, take down and carry.
When we are not camping (usually in cities) we always try to use decent, clean budget hotels, guest houses and hostels, however, taking into consideration the sometimes unpredictable nature of this expedition and the remoteness of some of the areas we visit, please be aware that in some circumstances we just have to take what we can get – good or bad. When staying in hotels, guest houses and hostels you can expect to share your room with other expedition members of both sexes.
There is no camping on the Beijing to Tokyo section of this tour so you can send your tents home from Beijing if you like.
1. A deposit of £300 is payable at the time of booking. The deposit is non-refundable unless Madventure is unable to offer you a place or you cancel within 14 days of the initial booking date. Madventure guarantees not to increase the trip price once the deposit has been received.
2. A booking is made in the name of the client and is not transferable to another person. You are only permitted to transfer your deposit once to a future expedition, after that a further £300 non-refundable deposit will be required. Please note that you will be affected if you have transferred and there is a price increase as you will have to pay the current expedition price at the time that the expedition balance payment is due.
3. Eight months prior to departure a further payment of £3000 must be paid to secure your booking. This payment is non-refundable unless we can not provide the tour. The final balance of your Expedition Payment £3695 must then be paid in full at least four months prior to the expedition start date at which time the tour will be confirmed to run. Once the tour is confirmed to run you will not receive any refunds of any monies paid. If the full payment is not received 4 months prior to departure Madventure may deem the booking cancelled and all monies paid will be forfeited. If you book within the 4 to 8 month period prior to departure a non-refundable deposit of £3300 should be paid upon booking. If you book within the 4 month period prior to departure the full non-refundable Expedition Payment of £6995 must be paid upon booking.
4. Cancellation of a booking must be notified in writing and when received by Madventure any monies paid will be forfeited. You acknowledge that payment for the trip is an intrinsic part of the trip’s income and contributes towards the overall costs of equipment, vehicle running costs, staff administration, travel permits, etc. and Madventure will have incurred a large part of its costs before the actual departure date. You will not receive a refund of any amount after the tour has been confirmed to run (which will usually happen no later than 4 months prior to the expedition departing), nor are you able to transfer to another expedition therefore we recommend you take out your travel insurance from the date you make your final expedition balance payment, 4 months prior to departure, so you are insured if you have to withdraw off the trip. If the reason for your cancellation is covered under the terms of your insurance policy you may be able to reclaim these charges but it is your sole responsibility to do so and we accept no liability for any acts or omissions of your insurance company.
5. It is unlikely that we will have to make any changes to your trip, but we do plan all trips many months in advance. Occasionally, we may have to make changes and we reserve the right to do so at any time. Most of these changes will be minor and we will advise you of them at the earliest possible date. We also reserve the right in any circumstances to cancel your trip. For example, if the minimum number of clients required for a particular trip is not reached, we may have to cancel it. However, we will not cancel your trip less than 4 months before your departure date (except for reasons of Force Majeure). If we are unable to provide the trip for any reason (aside from Force Majeure) you can either have a refund of all monies paid or accept an offer of an alternative trip of comparable standard from us, if available (we will refund any price difference if the alternative is of a lower value). It is understood that a minimum of 15 expedition members are required to run this Madventure expedition and less than that may result in the cancellation of the expedition. In the event of this happening, all monies paid by you towards the expedition cost only will be refunded. In the event of a cancellation Madventure is not responsible for reimbursing equipment, flights, visa costs, vaccinations, medication, etc. purchased by yourself. In the event of a trip being cancelled due to Force Majeure no refunds or compensation will be given by Madventure. We therefore recommend you have suitable travel insurance as if the reason for cancellation is covered under the terms of your insurance policy you may be able to reclaim these charges but it is your sole responsibility to do so and we accept no liability for any acts or omissions of your insurance company.
6. In the unlikely event of Force Majeure we will not refund you or pay you compensation if we have to cancel or change your trip in any way because of unusual or unforeseeable circumstances beyond our control. These can include, for example, war, riot, industrial dispute, terrorist activity and its consequences, natural or nuclear disaster, fire, epidemics, pandemics, health risks, closed or congested airports, ports or stations, poor local infrastructure, changes imposed by rescheduling or cancellation of transport by the transport supplier such as flights by airlines or main charterer, the alteration of transport or transport types, adverse weather conditions (actual or threatened), avalanche and technical failure with transport, Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice changing and advising against travel to the trip destination. We therefore recommend you have suitable travel insurance as if the reason for cancellation is covered under the terms of your insurance policy you may be able to reclaim these charges but it is your sole responsibility to do so and we accept no liability for any acts or omissions of your insurance company.
7. If you choose to leave a trip for any reason on your own accord once the trip is underway you will not receive any compensation from Madventure including any refunds of the Expedition Payment or Local Payment. We therefore recommend you have suitable travel insurance as if the reason for your departure is covered under the terms of your insurance policy you may be able to reclaim these charges but it is your sole responsibility to do so and we accept no liability for any acts or omissions of your insurance company.
8. We reserve the right at any time prior to the departure date, without prior consultation with yourself, to merge your trip with one or more other trips travelling at the same time. This will not constitute a major change and would usually just mean swapping vehicles.
9. The expedition payment and local payment cover transport, accommodation, some relating ferry and train tickets, meals and national park entry fees as specified on the website, repair of our expedition vehicle as well as repair and replacement of camping equipment including stools, cooking equipment & utensils.
10. The expedition leader has sole responsibility for the local payment. Any local payment monies or stock remaining at the trip end are non-refundable.
11. You undertake to comply with the laws and regulations, whether in respect of health, immigration, currency exchange control, dress or any other matter of all the countries visited during the expedition.
12. You undertake to obtain a valid passport and have enough blank pages in the passport for the trip and your specific passport and visa requirements. Immigration requirements are your responsibility and you should confirm these with the relevant embassies and/or consulates. We do not accept any responsibility and shall not be liable if you cannot travel or cannot participate in any part of the trip because you have not complied with any passport, visa or immigration requirements. You are responsible for obtaining and having available the necessary documents (including but not limited to full, current passport with enough blank pages to complete the trip and valid for at least 9 months from the last day of the trip and visas for all periods, countries and territories within the trip) enabling you to participate in the trip and shall comply with all local legislation and regulations of the countries in which the trip takes place (including immigration requirements, customs regulations and currency exchange). You shall indemnify us against any loss or expense that we may incur or suffer as a result of breach of this condition by you. We cannot guarantee visa prices and availability of visas. Ultimately visas are your own responsibility to obtain.
13. Madventure reserves the right to deviate from the advertised expedition route if in their reasonable opinion such deviation is necessary for the safety or well-being of any or any one of the members of the expedition or for the satisfactory progress of the expedition. In the event of it becoming necessary to fly over a country or countries in order to satisfactorily and safely continue the expedition, all costs of your flights will be borne by yourself.
14. Madventure accepts no responsibility for matters arising out of political disputes, border closures, epidemics, pandemics, natural disasters, climate, armed robbery, terrorism, etc. Should it become necessary to abandon an expedition because of such an event Madventure will be entitled to retain all monies paid. We therefore recommend you have suitable travel insurance as if the reason for cancellation is covered under the terms of your insurance policy you may be able to reclaim these charges but it is your sole responsibility to do so and we accept no liability for any acts or omissions of your insurance company.
15. You accept that owing to the nature of countries visited, all expeditions involve an element of personal risk and are of a potentially hazardous and unpredictable nature. In many countries we visit the basic infrastructure, such as roads, is very poor and therefore less safe than that familiar to people from many western countries. In particular, lack of road markings or warning signs, unmarked speed bumps, seasonal flooding of roads and bridges, local vehicles which are poorly maintained and driven and which are hazardous to other road users etc. are factors beyond the control of Madventure. You accept that in some areas we drive off-road and that this involves personal risk when the expedition vehicle can be negotiating rough terrain. Madventure owns and operates many of its own expedition vehicles and employs its own crew. Where stated, locally arranged transport and crew, including trains, ferries, buses or coaches are used. Where Madventure’s own vehicles and/or crew are not used for the above services, you agree that the obligation of Madventure to yourself is to select normally competent, independent subcontractors to provide the necessary services related to the trip and to exercise reasonable care in selecting such suppliers to provide these. You also accept that you undertake this expedition at your own risk and your participation is your own decision and does not form any part of your contract with Madventure. Madventure does not take responsibility for cancellations, unreliability of services or safety of operators, agents or contractors.
16. You accept that local emergency facilities are usually of a very limited nature. Hospitals outside of large cities often have no accident and emergency facilities and emergency transport facilities can be non-existent.
17. If you have a problem during your trip please inform the expedition leader immediately who will endeavor to put things right. If your complaint is not resolved locally please follow this up by emailing or writing to our office giving all other relevant information and, where possible, evidence. We must receive any such complaint not later than 28 days from the date of completion of your trip. Please keep your letter concise and to the point. This will assist us to quickly identify your concerns and speed up our response to you.
18. We do not accept any liability or responsibility for any personal possessions (including but not limited to cameras, jewelry, valuables and money) which is carried on or in our vehicles, carried on public transport or transport supplied by independent subcontractors, left in accommodation provided by us or our suppliers during a trip or left in our care during a trip. Such items are carried and/or left at your own risk.
19. Excursions or other tours that you may choose to book or pay for whilst you are on a trip are not part of your trip arrangements provided by us. For any excursion or other tour that you book your contract will be with the operator of the excursion or tour and not with us. We are not responsible for the provision of the excursion or tour or for anything that happens during the course of its provision by the operator. You accept that the prices quoted for optional activities are approximate as local prices can and do change. Any of the optional activities listed are not necessarily endorsed or recommended by Madventure. You also accept that you undertake any activity at your own risk and your participation is your own decision and does not form any part of your contract with Madventure. Madventure does not take responsibility for cancellations, unreliability of services or safety of operators, agents or contractors.
20. Whilst a trip is in progress you will at all times be expected to act in accordance with all reasonable instructions from us and/or the expedition leader. We may exclude you from the trip or any part thereof at any time (including during the trip itself) if we are of the opinion that you are likely to prejudice the good order, discipline or safety of the trip, including as a result of failing to comply with the expedition leader’s instructions, breaking any law or regulation of any country where the trip takes place or failing to adhere to the trip code of conduct, provided that we exercise our discretion reasonably in this regard. In such an event you shall reimburse to us any reasonable costs, losses or expenses which we incur or suffer as a result of our decision to exclude you from the trip, and Madventure shall cease to have any responsibility to/for you. No refund will be given for any unused services.
21. By completing the booking form you confirm that you appreciate the risks involved in the trip and that you do not suffer (or have ever suffered) from any pre-existing medical condition that may prevent you from actively participating in the trip other than those that have been declared to us. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are medically fit enough to undertake the trip and to ensure that you have received the necessary vaccinations and medications (and taken them as prescribed by your doctor) relevant to the destination country. Unless informed otherwise in writing we will assume that you are in good health and are not aware of any reason why you may be unsuitable to take part in the trip. We recommend that you consult your doctor before making a booking to ensure that you are medically fit and are fully aware regarding the immunizations and medical issues related to your destination countries. If you have any pre-existing medical condition, illness or disability, are undergoing medical treatment or, since entering into the contract, develop any medical condition, illness or disability or undergo any medical treatment; you will give us full particulars at the earliest opportunity and at the latest sixty (60) days before the departure date. If it is later discovered that a pre-existing condition was not declared within the specified time, and such condition would, if we had knowledge of it, have led to our refusal to accept or to cancel your booking, we reserve the right to withdraw you from the trip without any refund or recompense. In such an event, you shall reimburse to us any reasonable costs, losses or expenses which we incur or suffer as a result. In the event of you being withdrawn from a trip, no refunds will be given and we will not be responsible for (and you agree to indemnify us against) any costs, claims, losses and expenses arising including costs of repatriation, eg. flights and legal expenses. By agreeing to these conditions, you provide your consent to us and our insurers obtaining your medical records should we consider it necessary. You will be responsible for any charges for the provision of the information. We reserve the right to inspect your vaccination book at any time and to withdraw you from the trip in the event that you have not received and/or taken all the requisite inoculations and/or medication. If the information provided by you is incorrect and we discover that the correct information affects your suitability to take part in the trip, we may terminate the contract and withdraw you from the trip without refund or recompense, including during the trip. You agree and acknowledge that certain activities undertaken whilst you are on the trip may be inherently hazardous and have risks associated with them. You agree to abide by all instructions given to you whilst you are on the trip and you acknowledge that we cannot be held responsible for any injuries that may arise as a result of you failing to comply with such instructions.
22. You must be covered by personal travel insurance to undertake any Madventure tour. We recommend you take out a travel insurance policy that covers you fully against the cost of tour cancellation by you or by Force Majeure, medical care and repatriation should you become too ill to continue and above all covers you against the cost of air evacuation should sickness or injury necessitate such a course of action. You should also note that passenger liability insurance covering vehicles, particularly in third world countries, may be inadequate. It is therefore important that your travel insurance cover makes sufficient provision for your dependents in the event of an accident. Please note however that we have no control over the availability or standard of medical and repatriation services and facilities in the areas we visit and these do not form any part of our contract with you. Please remember that many of the areas we visit are not as developed as the UK and the availability and standard of such services may well be lower. Please read your travel insurance policy details carefully and take them with you when you travel. It is your responsibility to ensure that the insurance cover you purchase is suitable and adequate for your particular needs. We do not check individual insurance policies for suitability.
23. In many countries we visit, the local vehicle accident insurance includes either very limited passenger liability or none at all. Madventure has passenger liability insurance for some countries through which we travel but the client acknowledges that in many countries the expedition vehicle does not have the benefit of passenger liability insurance. The client agrees to indemnify Madventure against any claim or demand made in respect of any accident, personal injury or loss of life caused to, contracted or suffered by the client during the course of the expedition.
24. It is understood that on the Madventure London to Tokyo Overland expedition the section of the expedition that travels through EU countries is provided to you free of charge. You will not have to pay any additional fee to travel through EU countries with us but it is understood that we do not operate for hire and reward in these areas. We do this purely as a legality in order to operate our specialised overland vehicle in these areas legally.
25. Privacy & Data Protection – we shall ensure that appropriate security measures are in place to protect your personal data (as defined in the European GDPR act 2018 and the UK Data Protection Act 2018) and we do not store our customers financial details. When you make a booking, you do however consent to all the information you provide being passed on to our suppliers, agents, subcontractors, employees or volunteers whether based inside or outside of Europe for the purposes of us providing you with the trip.
26. By agreeing to these terms and conditions you consent (unless otherwise stated on your application form) to our staff taking photographs and or video footage of you during the trip and that these images may be used by us for publicity and training purposes including, but not limited to, brochures, websites, marketing material and in the media.
27. We shall be entitled to novate or assign the contract or any part of it to any third party. You shall not be entitled to assign the contract or any part of it. This contract is made on the terms of these conditions, which are governed by English law, and subject to the provisions of condition you agree to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts. If any of these conditions is found by any court or other competent authority to be wholly or partly unfair or unenforceable the validity of the rest of the booking conditions and the rest of the condition in question shall not be affected and shall remain valid and enforceable to the extent permitted by law. A reference in these conditions to a statute, convention or regulation shall be as a reference to that statute convention or regulation as amended, re-enacted or extended at the relevant time. The headings in these conditions are for convenience only and shall not affect their interpretation. Where the context otherwise requires, words importing the singular meaning shall include the plural meaning and vice versa and words denoting the masculine gender shall include the feminine and neuter genders. Where the context so admits, words denoting persons shall include natural persons, companies, corporations, firms, partnerships, limited liability partnerships, joint trips, trusts, voluntary associations and other incorporated and/or unincorporated bodies or other entities (in each case, whether or not having separate legal personality) and all such words shall be construed interchangeably in that manner.
28. The information given on the website, in the brochure and other literature supplied is given in good faith but no warranty is given that it is correct.
29. No servant, agent or authorized representative of Madventure has authority to commit Madventure to any liability whatsoever and Madventure will not be bound by any statement or representation unless it is in writing and signed by one of the directors.
30. Your contract is with Madventure Limited, a company registered in England and Wales (Company No. 6809461) whose registered office is at 93 Lashford Lane, Dry Sandford, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, OX13 6EB.
We recommend a budget of £110 – £130 per person per week to live comfortably during this expedition. This budget should cover day to day things like lunches, snacks, soft drinks, meals when not camping, the odd few beers, etc.
Budget approximately £600 for your visas, security clearances and letters of invitation.
Souvenirs are something that can be very cheap or very expensive so if you are going to be buying things like silk carpets you should budget for it.
Please also have a look at our Optional Excursions list as you may want to budget for a few of those activities too.
We recommend you bring 1/3 of your money in cash US Dollars and the rest of your money on your Visa or Mastercard credit/debit card.
They generally accept all major currencies for exchange but US Dollars are accepted everywhere.
ATM’s are widely available for you to draw local currency using your Visa or Mastercard credit/debit card except in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan where it is recommended you have US Dollars available for exchange.
To keep your money/credit cards/ipod/camera/laptop safe we recommend you purchase a ‘Pacsafe Travelsafe’ product. They offer various size portable anti-theft bags that can be attached to the vehicle when travelling and also attached to the toilet/bed/closet in your hotel room when off the vehicle.
Below is general information and recommendations regarding visas and passports. Visas are ultimately your own responsibility to obtain and visa requirements may vary according to your nationality and place of application, so use the information below as a guide only. Madventure is in no way responsible for obtaining your visas or passports.
We recommend you obtain the following visas in your passport before departure – China.
We recommend you obtain the following visas online – Turkey, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan (make sure you include the GBAO permit when applying for your Tajikistan visa).
All other visas can be obtained en-route.
You can either obtain visas yourself or use the services of a visa agency such as www.thevisamachine.com
Those who are travelling on non-European passports may require additional visas to travel through Europe and Central Asia so please check your requirements with the relevant embassies.
Most nationalities also require Letters of Invitation in order to apply for certain visas such as Turkmenistan and China. We can provide these for you for a fee.
Approximately 3 months prior to departure you will be sent the information required in order to complete your applications and apply for your visas (there are often time restrictions on visas so you can not apply earlier). We recommend that you make your passport available 2 months before departure in order to obtain your visas comfortably.
Budget approximately £600 for all your visas and letters of invitation.
Please ensure you have 12 free pages in your passport in order to accommodate all the visas and ensure your passport is valid for at least 12 months after your departure date.
You will need approximately 4 passport photos for the duration of the expedition.
Vaccination requirements are constantly changing so we recommend you seek the latest professional medical advice at least 8 weeks before departure to ensure you allow yourself enough time to obtain all necessary vaccinations. Nomad Travel’s website has up-to-date information on vaccinations, malaria and other general medical advice for all the countries we will be visiting and they also administer vaccinations at their Travel Clinics in various locations within the UK.
Alternatively speak with your local Health Professionals for current accurate information. You will need to make an appointment with your GP or Travel Clinic and take a list of the countries you are visiting and the approximate dates when you will be there.
An up to date Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate should be brought with you as it is sometimes required to enter certain countries on this tour.
Medically Fit & Able
You need to be in good general health for this expedition and be reasonably fit and able. The main concern is that everyone is able to pitch in equally and do their fair share when it comes to group activities like the communal cooking and cleaning up, packing gear in and out of the truck, erecting your own tent, etc. You do not need to be super-fit by any means and all ages are welcome. We always attract a very broad age range on these expeditions, from people in their 20’s through to people in their 70’s.
Please inform us of any medical conditions that you have before departure so that your crew knows how to deal with a medical situation if it should arise. All information will be kept confidential unless you request us to inform your fellow travelers. For example, it may be wise to inform fellow travelers if you are allergic to something like bee-stings so they know what to do if you get stung.
First Aid Kit
We carry a comprehensive first aid kit aboard the vehicle but it is recommended that you bring your own basic first aid kit for general use.
It is compulsory that every person who travels with Madventure obtain travel insurance for the complete duration of the expedition. Proof of travel insurance must be shown before joining an expedition.
There are various travel insurance companies to choose from and a Google search will bring up a vast selection but for people who are resident in the UK we recommend a London based company named Campbell Irvine, www.campbellirvine.com, tel. 020 7938 1734. They are familiar with what we do, so mention our name and the expedition you are travelling on and they will provide excellent cover for you.
For people based in North America a company called Allianz offers good cover – Tel: +1 866 884 3556, www.allianztravelinsurance.com
If you choose to obtain your travel insurance through another company please ensure you read the small-print and make sure you are covered for Medical Repatriation.
Tent: A good quality lightweight and compact waterproof free standing tent is recommended for this expedition. A removable fly-sheet will help you stay cool on hot dry nights. If you are travelling on your own you are restricted to a 1-2 man sized tent. If you are sharing a tent, you are restricted to a 2-3 man sized tent.
Sleeping bag: Any good quality 3/4 season sleeping bag will be fine but one with a ‘Mummy Hood’ is a good idea for the times that it will be cold. Please make sure that your sleeping bag has a ‘crush bag’ so it can be compacted down.
Sleeping bag liner: A Thermal Fleece or Silk Liner will bring your sleeping bag up a season when it’s cold and they are good to use on their own when it’s too hot for your sleeping bag.
Roll Mat: A compact inflatable Thermarest roll mat is recommended. A non-compact mat will not be permitted as they take up too much room.
Pillow: If you do wish to take a pillow (although most just bring a pillow case and stuff their fleece in it at night) then Thermarest do a good stuff pillow that compacts down small.
Backpack/sports bag/suitcase: We recommend you carry your luggage in a backpack but irrespective if you prefer a sports bag or a suitcase you are restricted to a maximum 100 liter volume.
Day bag: You are also permitted to bring a day bag with a maximum 40 liter volume that you can carry in the overhead luggage rack on the back of the truck with you.
Pacsafe: in order to keep your valuables safe we recommend a Pacsafe product. They make a range of anti-theft bags which vary in sizes and can accommodate your money, credit cards, passport, camera, laptop, etc. They can be attached to the overhead luggage rack on the back of the vehicle when travelling and/or to a fixed item in your hotel.
Headtorch: an invaluable investment! Check out the Petzl range of USB rechargeable headlamps.
Water purifier – quite a handy thing to have to purify contaminated water and avoid ‘Delhi Belly’. Check out the range of Lifestraw products.
Kindle: optional but great to keep all your travel guides and books in 1 place.
Ipad/Tablet: not a necessity but many places have WiFi available these days so having your own Ipad or Tablet will save you hanging around internet cafes.
Smartphone – not a necessity but very convenient for emailing, taking photos, mapping, and calling home using local sim cards.
Camera: completely up to you but most people bring one.
Toiletries: available everywhere but start with some toilet paper, toothpaste, toothbrush, dental floss, deodorant, soap and shampoo.
Towel: a microfiber travel towel is a good option as it dries quickly and packs down small.
First aid kit: only a basic one is recommended but should include plasters, antiseptic cream, bandage, pain relief tablets, scissors and safety pins.
Passport photos: You will need approximately 4 passport photos for the duration of the expedition.
Passport: please ensure you have 12 blank pages in your passport to accommodate all the visas required on this tour.
Yellow Fever vaccination certificate: an up to date certificate is sometimes required to enter certain countries.
Clothes & shoes:
1 pair of flip flops
1 pair of walking shoes, trainers or boots
4 pairs of socks
4 pairs of undies
4 t-shirts and/or vest tops
2 pairs of zip-off trousers which can be worn long or short
1 swimming trunks/bikini
1 lightweight long sleeve top
1 decent fleece top or fleece jacket
1 beanie/woolly hat for the cold days
1 wet weather jacket
1 light-weight dress/skirt for the ladies
1 collared shirt for the blokes A pair of thermal gloves
As our expeditions are not your average run of the mill overland tours we would like to go through every aspect of the trip with you to ensure that you are as informed and prepared as possible. At Madventure we believe in giving you the nitty-gritty details as well as the obvious highlights, as in our opinion these are just as important and we want to explain the expedition in as much detail as possible so you can be sure you are suited and prepared for one of our overland adventures. If after reading this, you decide that this expedition is not for you then, as long as it is within 14 days of your initial booking, you can cancel off the expedition and receive a full refund of your deposit.
The following may sound a little negative at times, but it’s just so we are secure in the knowledge that we have provided you with as much information as possible, the good and the bad, to ensure everybody is completely aware exactly what type of trips we run for the benefit of you, us and your fellow expedition members as there is nothing worse than getting someone booking on the trip when it is not what they actually wanted or expected as our expeditions are too long and too full on. You need to know what you are in for and be able to handle it!
At times you may be exposed to all the elements including searing heat at low altitudes and freezing cold at high altitudes. The odd humid drive day can sometimes seem endless. Our perfect wild camp can sometimes be turned into a quagmire after a rainstorm. And, for example, as wonderful as some of the remote places like Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan are, they may not have a western infrastructure and their acceptable level of hygiene standards are often very different to ours. Be prepared for all this and you will be fine.
Mucking In: This is a full participation expedition so you need to be able to participate fully in all aspects of the trip including cooking, cleaning, carrying water, collecting firewood, digging your vehicle out of sand & bogs, pitching your own tent, etc.
We get everyone to agree that you are medically fit and able and can physically participate fully in all aspects required. Don’t worry, you don’t need any prior experience or knowledge or to be a fitness freak, just to be happy to do your share and have a willingness to get stuck in when necessary.
When things go wrong: The only thing we can guarantee is that at some point things will not go according to plan! We have to follow the legislation of each individual country and they may all have different regulations and attitudes towards us. Generally everyone is always friendly and it’s usually obstacles such as breakdowns, bad roads and natural disasters that have a bearing on the expedition. Everything changes from trip to trip depending on what the current situation or problem is, so it’s not ‘if’ something goes wrong, it’s ‘when’.
Please be prepared to expect the unexpected and accept that things will go wrong from time to time. These instances are usually the stories that remain with everyone so enjoy the experience. An easy-going approach will help the situation immensely. Moaning about every little thing that doesn’t go our way will not!
Attitude & Group Living: A good, easy-going attitude will help you get through this trip and ensure you are liked by your fellow travelers as well as the locals. The one thing that is extremely detrimental to an expedition such as this is your common ‘moaner’. It has nothing to do with age, sex or nationality, it just matters that although they signed up for this ‘in theory’ they can’t cope ‘in practice’ and it’s always got to be someone’s fault. It sounds a bit harsh but by weeding out any moaners early on we can have a chat with them and ensure your expedition is as good as it can be. It’s hard enough at the best of times without in-house problems so by ensuring everyone is on the same page from the get go will start us off in good stead.
We have no age restrictions and if there is one thing we have come to realize, through experience, is that it’s the mental attitude that counts the most and a broader age range is better on a long trip as it stops the stereotyping – the more in the mix the better.
There will be parties and there will be quiet nights. There are no set rules and it always sorts itself out depending on the individual personalities of who’s on board.
Laziness and selfishness will also be spotted early on so we advise everyone to pull their weight. We can guarantee that at some stage during the expedition you will have to just fit in and go with the flow when it’s not what you personally wanted to do. When situations arise where we can’t please everybody we always aim to please the ‘majority of the group’ not the individual.
Please be aware that if any particular person is constantly causing the rest of the group (or the crew) grief due to their behavior they will be warned and then asked to leave the expedition if nothing improves and no refund will be given. This is obviously the most extreme situation but we will not let one or two lazy or selfish individuals spoil it for everybody else. Everybody knows the score from the start and this is for everyone’s benefit. Usually everybody who does our trips has a relaxed approach and everybody gets on very well and any unsuitable people do not last long and leave on their own accord.
This is a once in a lifetime experience so let’s all enjoy it!
Drive times, routes and proposed itineraries: We are driving a long way across Asia in a restricted time frame, so yes, there are going to be a lot of drive days and some of them will be long. This is where you have to be able to take pleasure in the scenery or a good book from time to time.
As a general rule on a drive day we leave in the morning around 7-8am (after breakfast) and pull up just before dusk in order to set up camp in the daylight, but this really depends on the distance between destinations and the road conditions.
Sometimes it will be a full day’s drive between destinations and you’ll have the following day free. On rare occasions it will be a 2 – 3 day long drive where you’ll leave early, stop late and wild camp in-between, then have a few free days at your destination. Sometimes it’s only a few hours between locations. Driving is a huge part of the trip so be prepared for a lot of it and expect the odd long drive into the night.
Please note: in exceptional circumstances we may be placed under military or police escort when travelling through troubled areas. This has never actually happened on this route but be aware that if this does occur then we are at their mercy and they make the decisions with regard to driving hours and routes. We do not argue with those who are trusted to ensure our safety so please be aware that if this ever happens the pace may be much faster than we would personally choose and the route they pick will be the one we follow, regardless of our proposed itinerary.
Delays: We always strive to arrive at our destinations on time but if we experience any delays we will adjust our itinerary accordingly. If we experience any major delays our end date may be extended to suit our needs.
The proposed itinerary is just that, ‘proposed’, and can and will change at the crew’s discretion if need be.
Drugs: In a lot of the countries we travel through drugs such as marijuana and hashish are in abundance and readily available. Please be aware that they are still illegal and some countries enforce severe punishment for being caught in possession. Obviously you are free to do whatever you want to do in your own free time but there is NEVER to be any illegal drugs aboard the expedition vehicle at any time.
If you are caught with any kind of illegal drugs on the expedition vehicle, regardless of the amount, you will be asked to leave the expedition immediately and no refund will be given.
This is a very serious rule as any inconsideration can lead to the vehicle being impounded, the expedition cancelled and other innocent party’s arrested. We will not hesitate to remove someone if we have to so please respect your other expedition members.
Your Crew: You will normally have a crew of 1 experienced person who fills the role of being the driver/expedition leader. Sometimes our crew prefer to work with a partner so there may occasionally be 2 crew who share the roles of driver and expedition leader. On some expeditions we may also have a cameraman who is there to help market our tours and update our social media accounts.
Your crew member will drive and maintain the vehicle as well as sort out all the accommodation, permits, border crossings and generally ensure the smooth running of the expedition. Your crew member is not a tour guide and will not be giving you the history and facts of every country you travel through. Apart from the odd optional extra that needs to be organized in advance, we leave most of that stuff to you guys, this way ensuring you get to do what you want, at the price you are happy to pay.
You do the reading up on the places we are going to in advance and decide how you want to spend your time and what activities you want to do. Apart from some basic truck rules this is not a trip where we hold your hand, it’s an expedition and we expect that you will want to be as independent as possible when it comes to your free time.
Your crew will be hand-picked and trained by Madventure and will have experience of overland travel but they may or may not have done this expedition before. They will however have detailed notes from previous expeditions and backup from the office in the UK.
Tipping: Tipping the crew at the end of your expedition is always appreciated. As this is a long expedition, but also a budget one, we recommend you tip your driver/expedition leader a minimum of £1 per day if you are happy with their service. Thank you.
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