All aboard the Oz Bus
Anewbusservicetakes passengerstheextramile– literally,writesJoTweedy
CAN’T bear the thought of 24 hours on a plane with horrendous jet lag awaiting you at the other end? Well, passengers desperate to see Australia, but wanting an altogether more leisurely way of getting there, can take the slow route down under – without compromising on comfort.
A recently revamped overland coach service, Oz-Bus, connects London to Sydney via an epic 92-day journey that travels through 17 countries. Tickets are on sale for £4 399 (R56 000) a person and stops en route include Turkey, Iran, India, Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Company owner Alastair Chrystal bought Oz-Bus recently and has been busy restructuring the product.
“We stopped offering camping stops in Europe – because tents were being fumigated when passengers got to Australia – and now we provide roofed accommodation all the way.”
Additional adventures, including f l i ghts a r ound E v e r e s t , e l e phant safaris and tiger spotting in Nepal, can be purchased as extras.
Local guides will hop onboard to dish out information as the bus makes its way around the globe and regular contact is made with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) throughout to ensure passenger safety.
A recent departure from London put a group in the thick of the political unrest in Tehran in June, although Oz-Bus claims travellers were in the safest of hands with local guides.
“We flew passengers from Tehran to Karachi to ensure their safety, but everyone on the bus said that being in Iran on the day the election results were announced was a fantastic experience.”
The oldest passenger Oz-Bus has had on board was a 77-year-old man and, although there are plenty of young travellers, the number of more mature travellers may surprise.
“On our next trip leaving in September, 50% of passengers are aged 45 or above,” says Chrystal. “As the trip goes on the younger travellers almost always end up looking up to the older passengers – there’s a real respect.”
The company uses several buses to bypass border restrictions and passengers travel between four and six hours a day, with plenty of extended stops at key destinations. And if you’re terrified you might end up stuck on a coach with passengers from hell, a hop-on, hop-off service launches in February next year where travellers can disembark and rejoin the next coach a month later.
Included in the ticket price is accommodation – mainly hostels – and breakfast. Travellers must be aged over 17.
F o r f u r t h e r i n f o r mati o n , v i s i t www.oz-bus.com