All aboard the Oz Bus

Anew­busser­vic­etakes pas­sen­ger­s­the­ex­tramile– lit­er­ally,writesJoTweedy

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - TRAVEL2009 -

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

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