Andes & Amazon between Cartagena and Quito, (ZCQ)

Quito to Cartagena 19 days, departing 05 Jun 2013
The phenomenal Santuario de las Lajas near Ipiales, Colombia The Basilica del Voto Nacional in Quito after dark The Basilica del Voto Nacional in the Old Town of Quito The colourful historic centre of Cartagena, Colombia

Trip Overview

Trip Style: Overlanding
Route: Quito to Cartagena
Duration: 19 days
Transport: Overland expedition vehicle, 4x4, Ferry
Physical Rating:

EASY HARD


Suitable for most fitness levels.
Accommodation:

40%60%

Hotels, Hostels, Campsites

Route Map

Countries Visited

Colombia

For most people Colombia is a bit of an unknown, the forgotten part of South America. This makes it a fantastic place to explore. Colombia's geography is one of the most diverse in South America; it really is a kaleidoscope of colour, life and culture. It has an undeserved reputation due to some internal instability in parts, but the warmth of its people and sheer variety of landscapes, culture and activities means that it is worth looking past this to see such a fascinating country.

Colombia is on the beautiful Caribbean coast and the home to some of the best coffee in the world. The culture of fiesta is central to Colombia's national psyche, and it plays host to some of the most fabulous carnivals in the world. Colombia has a very lively nightlife and strong traditions of music and dancing wherever you go in the country.

Colombia is also full of history, with the colourful colonial coastal city of Cartagena and its ruined fort being a big highlight. The country's landscapes are incredible, from the beautiful rugged beaches of Tayrona National Park to the cool coffee plantations of Manizales, the jungles and waterfalls of San Gil, and the mountains of Villa de Leyva.

Colombia's glorious landscapes, fabulous history and upbeat lifestyle is there to be cherished, and there is no doubt it will leave a special mark on your travels.

Ecuador

The colossal Cotopaxi volcano looks over the suburbs of Quito, Ecuador's capital

Ecuador is a small country with a diverse landscape including highlands, volcanoes, numerous National Parks, stunning Pacific beaches, and of course the enthralling Galapagos Islands.

The Amazon rainforest has the greatest biodiversity on the planet. And it's possible to take trips into the rainforest to explore the trails and waterfalls, and try to spot some of the jungle's fantastic array of wildlife. Off the coast are the Galapagos Islands, arguably one of the world's most prestigious and unique wildlife destinations.

If heart-racing outdoor activities are more your thing, then Ecuador has plenty to offer! You can head out for a day of exhilarating white-water rafting on the swirling River Pastaza, trek through the stunning canyons and rolling hills of Chugchilan, or head out horse riding in the mountains surrounding the capital of Quito.

Aside from the outdoors and wildlife, there are several great colonial towns to explore, such as the market town of Otavalo and the atmospheric cobbled streets of Cuenca. Quito has a marvellous colonial old town to explore, as well as a lively modern centre full of bars and restaurants.

With so much to offer and explore, Ecuador is the place to head to if you want to try something new every day!

Back to top ^

Daily Itinerary

The phenomenal Santuario de las Lajas near Ipiales, Colombia
The colourful historic centre of Cartagena, Colombia
A view over the beautiful modern skyline of Cartagena
Boats parked at the Rosario Islands, on a day trip from Cartagena, Colombia
The Spanish coastal fort of San Felipe in Cartagena, Colombia
Colourful bougainvilleas on a row of houses in Cartagena
A family busking in the market town of Otavalo, Ecuador
Locals walking through the traditional markets in Otavalo
The Basilica del Voto Nacional in Quito after dark
The Basilica del Voto Nacional in the Old Town of Quito
A view over the sprawling Ecuadorian capital of Quito
The lush hills and grasslands surrounding Quito, Ecuador
The colossal Cotopaxi volcano looks over the suburbs of Quito, Ecuador's capital
Climbing the Teleferico to the summit of Cruz Loma, overlooking Quito
A row of beautiful colonial buildings in Quito's Old Town
The Equator monument at Mitad del Mundo, near Quito, Ecuador
The stunning beaches of Tayrona National Park, northern Colombia
Tayrona National Park, northern Colombia
Tayrona National Park, northern Colombia
A view of the colonial town of Villa de Leyva
A bizarre clay house in Villa de Leyva, Colombia
The lush countryside surrounding Villa de Leyva, Colombia
Stopping at the Caribbean coast at Tolu, Colombia
Taking a ride around the plantaions in a tractor, Manizales
At the Sagrada Familia Children's Project in Manizales, Colombia
Colombian coffee beans growing at our finca in Manizales
Coffee plantations at our finca in Manizales, Colombia
The whitewashed churches of the old colonial city of Popayán
The San Francisco church in Cali, Colombia
Beautiful old buildings in Cali's centre
The phenomenal Santuario de las Lajas near Ipiales, Colombia
Admiring the incredibe mountain landscape of Los Nevados, Colombia
Taking a dip in the refreshing waters of Parque Puracé, Colombia
The colourful streets of Guatape, Colombia
The landscape surrounding the colossal rock of El Peñon de Guatape
Meeting a toucan on the San Bernardo Islands, Colombia
Our truck on the road near Covenas, Colombia
The Santa Barbara church in colonial Mompós, Colombia
Enjoying an incredible sunset outside of Mompós, Colombia
Local women in Mompós, Colombia
Atmospheric old buildings in Mompós
On the road near Sincelejo, Colombia
An old colonial church in Aguachica, Colombia
A waterfall in the stunning landscape near San Gil, Colombia
The beautiful colonial town of Barichara, near San Gil
On the road near Honda, Colombia

Day 1: Quito

( Wed 05 Jun )

Border information: Welcome to Quito, the capital of Ecuador. If you are joining in Quito, enter Ecuador at Quito airport.

Free time to explore Quito with a group meeting day at 18:00hrs. We stay in local friendly hotel in Quito

Hotel for the night:
Activity Approximate Cost

Take a trip on Quito's Telerifico to the top of the Cruz Loma mountain, getting breathtaking views over the city from a height of 4,270m

USD 8.5

Visit the excellent Museo de la Ciudad, housed in Quito's oldest building, which explores the history of everyday life from pre-Colombian times all the way up until the present day

USD 3
About Quito:

Quito is the capital of Ecuador, nestled in a hollow in the mountains in between the volcanoes Cayambe, Pichincha and Cotopaxi - at 2,850m above sea level, it is the world's highest official capital city. Founded in 1534 by a group of settlers led by Sebastián de Benalcázar, the town slowly grew throughout the Spanish colonial era and after the region's independence from Spain in 1822.

The colonial old town is a maze of steep, cobbled streets with intricately carved, overhanging balconies, and some of the best examples of Spanish colonial art and churches anywhere in the Americas - along with Kraków, Quito was the first ever World Cultural Heritage Site declared by UNESCO in 1978. The modern area of the town is lively and has some fantastic restaurants and bars. Quito's mix of European and Indian cultures make this a really fascinating city, and you will come across stalls displaying Indian textiles, colourful wall hangings, jewellery, pottery and woodcarvings. Quito has some incredible museums, galleries and parks in the city, and some excellent adventure activities and mountain treks nearby for those with extra time in the area.

Day 2: Quito, Otavalo

( Thu 06 Jun )

In the morning we will drive 140kms to the Indian market town of Otavalo where we stay in a friendly hotel. En route we will stop at the Equator for the must have photos.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the monument to mark the Equator at Mitad del Mundo

Included in Kitty
About Otavalo:

Otavalo is a small town in northern Ecuador nestled in beautiful surroundings a short distance from Quito. Many of the local indigenous communities in this area still wear their traditional clothing made from intricately woven and decorated fabrics, and the men tend to wear their hair in long ponytails. The Otovalan weaving skills are quite renowned and they are rightly famous for their textiles - so rugs, wall hangings and knitwear are all well worth buying here!

Day 3: Ipiales

( Fri 07 Jun )

Border information: Exit Ecuador at Ipiales. Enter Colombia at Ipiales

Today we cross the border into Colombia to the town of Ipiales where we stay in a local hotel

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the jaw-dropping church of Santuario de las Lajas on the outskirts of Ipiales, built on a bridge spanning a 45m-deep river gorge

Included in Kitty
About Ipiales:

Ipiales is the border town on the Colombian side of the Colombia/Ecuador frontier. The town has some pleasant plazas and the sight of locals using a horse and cart gives it a quaint, countryside feel. The star attraction of Ipiales is the nearby Santuario de las Lajas, the site of many supposed miracles and apparitions over the years. Set amid breath-taking scenery, the Santuario is a spectacular gothic-style church straddling a dramatic gorge with rushing river below. It is one of the most impressive churches on the continent, and its fantastic setting and quirky museum make it a highlight of any visit to Colombia.

Day 4: Popayán

( Sat 08 Jun )

An early morning start leads for a 315km drive to the beautiful town of Popayan where we stay for the night in dorm accommodation in a hostel.

Activity Approximate Cost

Freely explore the serene old colonial capital of Popayán, and soak up the charming atmosphere amongst its white-washed houses and rolling green hills

Included in Kitty
About Popayán:

Nicknamed the White City, Popayán is a beautiful colonial town full of white-washed houses and grand churches encircled by rolling green hills. Although the capital of the Cauca region of southern Colombia, Popayán somehow retains its relaxed small-town feel. The cool and sunny climate of the lower Andes makes Popayán a very comfortable place to stay and as the main university town of the region, there's a young, sociable feel to the city. The leafy parks marked with elegant church towers provide a sociable and relaxed location where you could easily spend an afternoon, while an evenings entertainment could be chatting with the friendly locals in a classy cafe bar or salsa club.

Whilst staying in the town there are some lovely walks offering excellent views of the historic centre, several worthwhile museums and galleries and many good cafes, bars and restaurants to make the most of. There are some excellent treks in the surrounding mountains, including an option to trek to the summit of the nearby Puracé volcano.

Day 5 to 6: Cali

( Sun 09 Jun to Mon 10 Jun )

A short 140kms drive brings us to Cali, Colombia’s most lively city. In the evening you may have the chance to head out for a tour of the city in a traditional chiva bus and there is the chance for optional salsa classes and plenty to keep you entertained during the daytime too. We stay in Cali for 2 nights in a lovely hostel.

Activity Approximate Cost

Head out into the vibrant nightlife of Colombia's 'Capital of Salsa', and see some of the city's incredibly talented dancers in action

Free

Discover Cali's excellent contemporary art at the ADN Gallery

Free

Visit the spacious and open Cali Zoo, probably the best in South America and home to many wildlife conservation and education projects

COP 16000

Head out for a fun afternoon with the locals at Cali's Water Park!

COP 12500
Visit the Museo Arqueológico la Merced, the best museum in Cali displaying may indigenous artifacts COP 4000

Visit the Museo del Oro in Cali, with its wonderful gold collection and fine exhibition of ceramics

Free
About Cali:

Cali is a big and bustling city with a warm climate and pleasant atmosphere. Although there are comparatyvely few sights of special interest, just wandering through the mix-match architecture and relaxing in the sociable parks and plazas is a nice way to spend some time.

The city has made it's reputation in traveller circles thanks to it's nightlife and social scene and as such is increasingly popular. The Salsa capital of Colombia provides great opportunities to test out those dance moves and hit the fashionable bars and restaurants with the locals. For party seekers and those who enjoy the faster paced city life, Cali shouldn't disappoint. Avenida Sexta, is Cali's party street. With rows of bars, clubs, restaurants and cafes, this is where to head for a night on the town.

For others, the old neighbourhood of San Antonio is a lovely spot with arty, Bohemian cafes, shops and restaurants lining picturesque Colonial streets.

Alternatively why not head to Las Tres Cruces which is a great point from which to catch the best views over Cali. It’s quite a hike up there but it's a peaceful spot and a nice break from the rush of the city.

Day 7 to 9: Manizales

( Tue 11 Jun to Thu 13 Jun )

We head out early to overland 270kms to Manizales where we stay for 3 nights on a coffee plantation, camping in the grounds of a traditional finca. During the next few days we will enjoy a night of music and dancing, a city tour of Manizales and a coffee plantation tour. Will will also visit a local childrens's charity which we support.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the Dragoman-supported Sagrada Familia project in Manizales, who work to provide education, nutrition, and psychological support to young children from poor backgrounds in the area

Included in Kitty

Enjoy a night of traditional live Colombian music with a delicious BBQ dinner at our coffee finca nea Manizales

Included in Kitty

Stay for 2 nights on a coffee finca near Manizales, and learn all about coffee production on an informative tour of the plantations

Included in Kitty
About Manizales:

Manizales is a friendly city right in the heart of Colombia's coffee region with a comfortable climate and plenty to see and do. Although still opening up to international tourism, Manizales has a lot to offer the visitor in the way of outdoor activities and ecological attractions. The town itself is a relaxed and friendly place centred around the magnificent cathedral with attractions such as the botanical gardens, thermal springs and eco-parks all easily access able from the centre of town.

Venturing a little further, you will find coffee haciendas and plantations in the surrounding area as well as some beautiful country landscapes perfect for trekking or just taking a relaxing break in the great outdoors. In Manizales we stay on one of these working coffee plantations covering approximately 480 acres which provides people from around the world a taste of the finest Manizales fair trade coffee. The plantation employs around 100 people all throughout the year and about 400 people during the peak picking season.

Day 10 to 12: Guatapé

( Fri 14 Jun to Sun 16 Jun )

We head north some 200 kms to the small town of Guatapé which is beautifully located aside a lake in rolling countryside. The town is famous for the towering El Peñón de Guatapé which will will visit before enjoying 3 days of camping by the lake for various activities in the local area.

Activity Approximate Cost
Climb the 644 steps to the top of the massive rock monolith of El Peñón de Guatapé, and take in the spectacular views from the summit COP 10000

Trek to some of the stunning waterfalls around the area of Guatapé

COP 12000

Hire kayaks to explore the lakes around Guatapé

COP 12000

Hire mountain bikes to explore the incredible landscapes around Guatapé

COP 15000
About Guatapé:

Guatapé is a picturesque town surrounded by the Embalse del Penol, an artificial lake built in the early 1960s and wonderful countryside yet with a colourful and historic centre. On weekends, the waterfront malecón (boardwalk) fills up with local vendors selling beautiful Paisa art, food, and souvenirs. The area is great for activities but one of the main reasons to visit is to see El Peñón de Guatapé, a 650 foot tall granite monolith that divides the countryside and offers amazing views from the top. El Peñón is very similar to Pão de Açucar (Sugarloaf Mountain) in Rio de Janeiro and has 644 steps which you need to climb to get to the top, but it is well worth it.

Day 13 to 14: Medellín

( Mon 17 Jun to Tue 18 Jun )

A short drive of a couple of hours takes us to Colombia’s second city, Medellín where stay in dorm accommodation for 2 nights in a centrally located hostel within the Zona Rosa allowing you to enjoy the vibrant nightlife.

Activity Approximate Cost

Head out of Medellín to explore the nearby charming old town of Santa Fe de Antioquia, and visit its old churches and tamarind markets

COP 3000

Visit the colossal Catedral Metropolitana in the city centre, built using over a million bricks between 1875 and 1931

Free

See Medellín's perfect blend of art, culture, and history by visiting the Plaza Botero and the nearby Museo de Antioquia and the Rafael Uribe Palacio de la Cultura

COP 10000

Relax and unwind on a stroll though the Medellín's gorgeous Botanical Gardens, and discover some of its 1000 different floral species on display

COP 2500
About Medellín:

The rapid transformation that has taken place in Colombia's second largest city is one like no other. Having spent the 1980s and 90s with international reputation of one of the world's most dangerous cities, Medellín has certainly turned itself around. Once synonymous with the infamous Pablo Escobar and the Medellín Cartel, the city suffered a seriously damaged reputation amongst international travellers and has only recently become a popular destination amongst backpackers. The Paisas (as people from Medellín are known) have strived to change the city's reputation, and almost nothing of those former days can be seen in the character of the city today - visitors can comfortably enjoy the beautiful architecture, excellent facilities and all round well-developed city!

Set amid the rolling green hills of the Aburrá valley and with a warm climate and comfortable altitude of 1538 metres, Medellín has seen more and more travellers flocking to the city in the past few years. With some of the country's finest museums, parks and most impressive architecture as well as a much safer and comfortable atmosphere, it’s easy to see why. Medellín is also one of Colombia's easiest cities to get around with the immaculate and convenient metro system passing all the main points of interest. If you use the metro then make sure you head up on El Teléferico, the city’s cable car, as this is included on your metro ticket and gives you a great view of the city.

Day 15 to 16: Covenas, San Bernardo Islands

( Wed 19 Jun to Thu 20 Jun )

A 525kms drive takes us to Covenas on the Morrosquillo gulf where we camp in the grounds of a local hotel near the beach for 2 nights. On the second day we will take a boat over to the spectacular San Bernardo islands for a tour of this beautiful archipelago.

Activity Approximate Cost

Take a boat trip out to the spectacular San Bernardo Islands for the day

Included in Kitty
About San Bernardo Islands:

The islands of San Bernardo are made up of ten small islands with fine beaches and are the real travel highlight of this area. Sitting within the Golfo de Morrosquillo in the Caribbean sea the archipelago belongs to the National Natural Park Corales del Rosario and San Bernardo and consists of the islands of Boqueron, Cabruna, Ceycén, islote of Santa Cruz, Mangle, Maravillar, Múcura, Palma, Pandora and Tintipán.

The Islet of Santa Cruz which is an artificial island is supposedly the most densely populated piece of land in the world with just over a thousand people in less than a hectare of land!

Not all of the islands are accessible but contain stunning beaches, marshes, mangroves and diverse wildlife ranging from flamingos and monkeys to birds and crabs of all colours.

Day 17: Cartagena

( Fri 21 Jun )

We leave Covenas and head 240kms to Cartagena.  We stay in a comfortable hotel in central Cartagena.

Activity Approximate Cost

Freely explore the fascinating colonial city of Cartagena or learn all about its incredible history on a guided walking tour

Included in Kitty

Visit the mud volcano of Totumo, and take a rejuvenating mud bath in its crater

USD 25

Visit the historic coastal Spanish fortress of Castillo San Felipe

COP 17000
About Cartagena:

Cartagena is one of the most historic cities in South America - legendary for both for its history and beauty, Cartagena is often one of the favourite destinations of most travellers who visit it.

The area was inhabited by various native civilisations for thousands of years before the city was founded in 1533 CE by Spanish conquistador Pedro de Heredia - the settlement was named after the city of Cartagena in Spain, where most of Heredia's sailors were from. Having suffered a tumultuous past full of battles, raids, invasions, destructions and reconstructions, the city became heavily fortified and huge defensive walls surround its narrow cobbled streets and colonial buildings.

The city is made up of various districts - the new town with its high rise hotels, apartments and nightspots, and the older colonial parts of the city. The old city is the main attraction for visitors, particularly the inner walled town which is packed with churches, monasteries, plazas and mansions.

Day 18: Cartagena

( Sat 22 Jun )

Today we explore the city on a guided walking tour and you also have the chance to enjoy the many optional activities on offer.

Day 19: Cartagena

( Sun 23 Jun )

Border information: If you are finishing in Cartagena, exit Colombia at Cartagena airport.

The trip ends today after breakfast and no accommodation is provided.

However if you are continuing on to Panama then your leader will assist you with getting to the airport for your included flight. You will overnight tonight in a comfortable hotel in either Panama City or Cartagena (depending on the flight times and availability).

Back to top ^

Important Notes

The routes, activities and places visited described in these trip notes are intentions and are meant as a rough guide only.

These trip notes have been compiled to help you prepare for your journey once you have booked. They include the full itinerary and dates, and information about kit lists, meeting hotels, insurance, vaccinations, visas, and other information that will help you get ready for your trip.

We update these notes regularly, so please ensure you have an up-to-date version of these trip notes.

We intend to follow the planned route but exact night stops and inclusions cannot be guaranteed. It sometimes happens that we decide to make a change to our planned itinerary. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, road or bureaucratic conditions may demand it. By their very nature, overland itineraries need to be flexible and the regions that we are travelling through are often unpredictable. We run adventure journeys in off the beaten track areas, which often have poor infrastructure. You should expect that some of these areas do not adhere to 'Western' safety standards.

Altitude Warning

Warning - this trip goes above 2800m.

Please note that this trip spends time above 2800 metres/9200 feet where it is possible for travellers to experience some adverse effects on your health due to the altitude, potentially including Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) and High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE).

Because of this it is very important that you make yourself aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude and monitor your health during this trip. 

For further information please click here to download our AMS information sheet or refer to the following website: www.high-altitude-medicine.com

Your leader will also hand you a copy of the AMS information sheet during your trip as well as holding a short meeting prior to travelling to altitudes above 2800m/9200ft for the first time.

If you are starting your trip in a destination above 2800m/9200ft we strongly advise reading this information prior to arrival.

Multiple departures and amended itineraries

South America is very busy for travel at certain times of the year, particularly in connection with the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro but also at other times of the year. Please note that there may be more than just one truck on your specific departure date, and these trucks will travel in parallel with each other.

Trucks on multiple departures will operate on slightly different itineraries and your day to day itinerary may vary from your trip notes. You will of course still visit all the highlights listed, and the presence of other trucks can make for a great atmosphere. If you should have any concerns then please contact your sales agent.

Even on the majority of our trips where there is only the one truck, you may from time to time meet up with other groups at points on the road, and may partake in activities jointly with other groups on these occasions.

This may also occur occasionally in Africa, but is very unlikely in Asia or North and Central America.

Visa Information

Many countries that we visit on our travels will require visas to enter. Some are best obtained before you leave home, and others can be obtained en-route. Whilst the ultimate responsibility for obtaining visas is yours, we will endeavour to assist you wherever possible.

The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. The information provided is given in good faith and we do try to keep the visa information as up to date as possible. Please read the information very carefully to make sure everything is clear and you aware of what you need to do. Please also be aware that rules surrounding visas do change, often suddenly, and without prior warning. This is why it is important that you also double-check the information we provide for yourself.

For visas that are needed in advance, you may wish to submit the applications directly to the relevant embassy or consulate. If you require any supporting documentation for your visa applications, Dragoman will obtain this on your behalf as part of your trip price - we will contact you to request additional information in order to make this application for you.

However, for trips that involve multiple visas, you may find it beneficial to use a specialist visa agency to assist you with your applications. While this does sometimes increase the cost, it usually makes the process much easier for you. We have a long-running partnership with The Visa Machine, a specialist visa agent who we recommend to help you apply for your visas (especially if you are applying for several countries at the same time).

As you will often need to submit your passport together with your applications, we recommend that you avoid making any travel plans in the weeks leading up to your departure.

Most countries require that your passport is valid for at least 6 months after your entry into the country.

For trips that are not yet guaranteed, you may find yourself in the position whereby you will need to start the visa application process prior to your trip being guaranteed - in this situation we still advise you not to purchase flights until your trip is guaranteed. However, you can start your visa application process, ensuring that when applying for your visas or letters of invitation that you allow several days before and after your entry into the country to allow for delays, availability of flights, etc. 

Ecuador 

Citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and all EU countries will not need a visa to visit Ecuador as a tourist for up to 90 days.

Citizens of other countries should check with the relevant consulates as to whether a visa is required. If a visa is required, you will need to obtain it in advance. Only a very small number of nationalities will require a visa.

A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers coming from areas with risk of yellow fever transmission (including transiting through an airport in an area of risk).

Colombia 

Citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and all EU countries will not need a visa to visit Colombia as a tourist for up to 90 days.

Please note that citizens of Canada will need to pay a reciprocity fee of COP160,000 (approximately USD70 - 2015 price) upon entry to Colombia.

Citizens of other countries should check with the relevant consulates as to whether a visa is required. If a visa is required, you will need to obtain it in advance.

Flying to Central or South America via the USA or Canada

If your flight to Central or South America goes via the USA, then you must obtain an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) before travel (except for citizens of Canada, who will not require this). Citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and most EU countries are part of the USA’s Visa Waiver Scheme and are eligible to obtain an ESTA.

An ESTA must be obtained online and in advance via the following link and paying the appropriate fee - https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/ - please note that you will be denied boarding your flight if you do not have this arranged.

If you are not eligible for an ESTA, then you will have to obtain a B-1/B-2 visa for temporary visitors, and you will need to obtain it in advance. In this case it would be advisable to book flights that do not go via the USA.

Please note that if you have travelled to Iran, Sudan, Iraq or Syria since March 2011, or hold dual-nationality with one of these countries, then you will not be eligible for an ESTA and must instead apply for a visa. There are some exceptions to this, please see the following link for more details - http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2016/01/251577.htm.

Similarly, if your flight to Central or South America goes via Canada, then you must obtain a Canadian Electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA) before travel (except for citizens of the USA, who will not require this). Citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, most EU countries, South Korea and Japan are part of Canada's Visa Waiver Scheme and are eligible to obtain an eTA.

An eTA must be arranged online and in advance – please go to http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/ , apply and pay the appropriate fee.

If you are not eligible for an eTA, then you will have to obtain a Temporary Resident Visa, and you will need to obtain it in advance. In this case it would be advisable to book flights that do not go via Canada. Please note that several Eastern European nationalities will need a visa.

Personal Spending

South America Currencies and Cash

It is not really worth trying to buy local currencies before you travel. Bear in mind that many countries have strict regulations about the amount of their own local currency you are allowed to import - if you are found with amounts in excess of the allowed amounts, it may well be confiscated!

For obvious security reasons we hesitate to recommend you bring lots of cash with you, a sensible mix of cash and ATM cards is best. Most of our past passengers have said they wished they had been told to bring more cash. Apart from the convenience of being able to change money in many more places, you will sometimes get a much better exchange rate for cash.

More and more people are choosing to travel with cash passports such as TravelEx cards (you can visit www.cashpassport.com for further information on these). This is a very secure way of carrying your money whilst travelling. You treat them exactly like an ATM card and draw out local currency from an ATM within each country.

Travellers cheques have become increasingly difficult to change in South America with passengers and our leaders experiencing huge frustration and numerous hours spent trying to find a bank which will change travellers cheques. For this reason we no longer accept them on our trips and do not recommend that you bring them for your personal spending money.

You should take a mixture of denomination notes. Banks and moneychangers in most countries will now only accept bills with a metallic strip running top to bottom of the bill and which are no more than 8 years old. You should not take worn or damaged notes, or any that have been written on. Brazil can be difficult for changing money, so it’s handy to have a cash card as backup. Please bring a mixture of small and large denominations as in more remote areas it can be hard to change amounts over USD50.

Please note that due to a recent counterfeit scam central banks in several South American countries (Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Chile) have temporarily banned the circulation of USD100 notes bearing a series 2001 production date and a serial number starting with the letters CB or CF and ending in B2. The serial number is printed in green on the emblem.

Cash machines are readily available in most areas but are not always reliable therefore we recommend that you do not rely on them as your only source of cash. Credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express are the most commonly accepted, but be prepared for very high commission charges. Please do not rely on cards for daily use, as they are not always accepted outside of larger towns and cities.

What else you need to know

Overland Lifestyle and Trip Suitability

Dragoman was founded in 1981, and has had many years of experience of leading overland trips across 4 continents. Overlanding is all about sharing a great travelling experience with like-minded people. On your trip you’ll travel in one of Dragoman’s purpose-built iconic expedition vehicles on an off the beaten track adventure along rugged roads, experiencing the sights, sounds and smells of the world up-close. Your journey will be overland, sometimes across vast distances, so some long days spent driving are inevitable - but these will be interspersed with breaks of a day or two at a destination or activity. On an overland journey, you are more than just a passenger and everyone gets involved setting up camp - we supply the tent but it’s up to you to pitch it! As part of your trip, you will be assigned a truck job which could be collecting firewood or water, luggage loading, organising food, stores, etc.

Like all great adventures, the more you put in the more you'll get out!

We are looking forward to welcoming you on one of our overland journeys, but before we do there are a few things we would like to draw to your attention.

Back to top ^

Who Travels with Dragoman?

Our groups are made up of people from around the world, and are always an interesting mix of nationalities and ages. On average there is a pretty even split between males to females, and between solo travellers, couples and small groups of friends. We believe that overlanding should be open to as many people as possible, and so although we have a minimum age limit of 18 (or 7 on our Family Trips), as long as you are fit, healthy and passionate about travel, we are happy to take you, whatever your age is. One of the wonderful aspects of group travel is the camaraderie and friendships that are formed along the way, and the variety of people that you will meet.

Back to top ^

Group Size

The maximum group size we take on our overland journeys ranges from 19 to 22 depending on the geographical location; however the average number of passengers is more likely to be around 16.

Please note that there is an overlap of 2 trips in Cuzco and during the Inca Treks. This means a group starting a trip in Cuzco will embark on the Inca Trail at the same time as a group finishing in or travelling through Cuzco. In practical terms this means there could be more than 22 group members in Cuzco and on the Inca Trail at the same time.

Please note that there is also an overlap of 2 trips in Zanzibar. This means a group starting a trip in Nairobi, for example, will visit Zanzibar at the same time as a group starting their trip there. In practical terms this means there could be more than 22 group members in Zanzibar at the same time.

Please also note that on some departures there may be more than one truck doing the same route. This means that you will be in the same hotel or campsite as another Dragoman group on some days. To ensure that you are not always at the same place at the same time as another group, your itinerary will most likely be slightly altered from the itinerary advertised in these trip notes.

Our Crew and Guides

Our crew are passionate about travel and are always up for adventure. It takes someone special to become a Dragoman leader. Our crew undergo the most intensive training program of all the overland companies, spending 8 weeks learning the ropes at our base in Suffolk, UK, and then up to 6 months on the road as a trainee. Our crew are trained to manage and operate the trip safely and efficiently and their duties include: planning the trip according to the itinerary, driving and maintaining the truck, securing services of local guides, general logistics, health and safety, liaising with bureaucracy, dealing with issues where needed and offering advice and support to our customers. In addition they have a basic knowledge of the places visited and will be able to offer suggestions of things to do and see. Dragoman endeavours to provide the services of experienced crew, however, due to the seasonality of travel, situations may arise where your tour leader is new to a particular region or training other crew, new to the area.

On all Dragoman overlanding trips, we usually have 2 western crew. However on our trips in East and Southern Africa we either have 2 western crew or 1 western crew and 1 local driver. On trips south of Nairobi in East and Southern Africa we will also have an African camp master/cook who is in charge of running the camp and organising all of the meals. Their knowledge of the local produce makes shopping at the markets great fun and you will learn how to prepare and cook some unusual dishes.

In the rest of Africa, the Americas, India and Turkey, in addition to our crew we will employ local guides in specific locations of interest (for just a few hours up to a few days).

On the majority of our trips in Central Asia, China and South East Asia, in addition to our crew we will have a local guide on board who will travel with us for the entire duration of our time within one country. In these cases, the local guide becomes a third crew member and is able to offer their local knowledge as well as an insight into their country and the lives of the local people.

Your crew have a duty of care to all members of the group and therefore they have the authority to ask you to leave the trip if you require serious medical assistance, you are behaving in an anti-social manner or refuse to comply with local laws and customs. In all matters relating to the trip, the leader's decision will be final and we appreciate your respect of this.

Accommodation on Tour

Dragoman's overland trips are designed for shared accommodation, whether camping or staying in hotels or hostels, and therefore do not involve a single supplement. Single travellers will share with people of the same sex for the duration of the trip and whilst our crew will do their best to accommodate couples travelling together in twin rooms, all our travellers should expect to stay in multi-share accommodation from time to time.

The type, variety and standard of accommodation will vary greatly depending on what options are available at the time; hotels can vary from very basic rooms without electricity or running water to high standard hotels with good facilities! Generally in hotels most rooms will be twin-share, but in South America many rooms are triple-share. Hostels, gers and yurts are nearly always multi-share.

The campsites will range from rather basic to those with excellent facilities, including swimming pools, restaurants and bars. In some cases it may also be possible to upgrade locally to bungalows, lodges or even tree-houses. One of the highlights of overlanding is that in more remote areas we wild camp away from the tourist crowds. Occasionally on some of our trips we are able to stay in villages or local homestays allowing us to get close to the indigenous population and ensuring that our money stays within the local community.

Back to top ^

The Kitty

In addition to the trip price on our overlanding trips, you will also be required to pay a kitty specified for your trip (please note that there is no kitty on our Family Trips). The kitty is payable in installments at the start of each section of the trip for combination trips, and in full at the start of the trip for individual trips. Each customer joining a trip pays their kitty into a central fund. The fund is managed by the Dragoman crew and the kitty accounts can be viewed by all throughout the trip.

The kitty covers all things that the whole group does, such as:

• Hotel accommodation and campsite fees

• Meals whilst camping (not whilst staying in hotels)

• Activities listed as included (e.g. National Park or historical site entrances, excursions, etc.).

The kitty system is very unique to overlanding and we believe it allows us to have flexibility and transparency on our trips. You can see exactly how your money is being spent and ensure that you are getting the best value by buying locally. It also helps to keep the costs competitive and save on administration costs so that we can pass the saving on to you. Dragoman makes NO PROFIT on kitties, as they are the group's fund. We constantly update the kitty prices on our website and the kitty advertised in the brochure is an estimate at the time of printing. Prices can go up or down with no notice, and exchange rate fluctuations will affect costs. If there is money left in the kitty at the end of your trip, then this is divided between the group and you receive a refund.

Once you book your trip it is very important that you check our website on a regular basis and just before departure for any changes to the kitty amount.

The kitty is payable in full at the start of your trip (in installments at the start of each individual trip on combination trips). Alternatively you can pay in advance via a bank transfer 3-4 weeks before the start of your trip - please see http://www.dragoman.com/files/Kitty_doc_v6.pdf for more details - this letter will also be sent in your booking confirmation upon booking a trip. Please also note that this option is not available for our trips to West Africa or Iran.

If you are bringing the kitty out in cash, please try to pay in the specified currency on the website (usually in US Dollars). Your tour leader will be able to accept some of the kitty in local currency if needed, and they will let you know the exchange rate locally - in most destinations you can withdraw local currencies from ATM machines, using either a cash passport or a credit/debit card. Please bear in mind that most cards have a maximum withdrawal amount per day, local ATMs may run out of cash, and your bank could block the card despite you warning them of your travel plans, so it could be impractical to try to get the entire kitty out from an ATM.

Traveller's cheques are becoming increasingly impossible to change around the world, with passengers and our leaders having experienced frustration and numerous hours spent trying to find a bank which will change them. For this reason we cannot accept traveller's cheques on our trips.

Back to top ^

Meals and Group Participation

On an overland journey you are more than just an individual passenger - you're part of the team. You are expected to pitch in to set up camp, shop for food, cook and generally help out. As part of your trip you will be assigned a truck job which could be collecting water and firewood, sweeping out the truck, loading the back locker, etc. While camping on overland journeys, the meals are included in the kitty. This means that you will have to work together to cook for everyone in your group. You will be divided into smaller units of 3-4 people and take it in turns to cook for the whole group according to a rota system. When it is your group's turn to cook you will have to plan the meal, shop for the ingredients in local markets or supermarkets and then prepare the meal for the whole group. The secret to cooking for 20+ people using a basic camping kitchen is to keep it simple! (On trips south of Nairobi we have a cook on board the truck; however you will still be required to help them to prepare meals).

An example of a typical camp breakfast might be toast with spreads, fruit and cereal as well as tea and coffee. When time allows it will also be possible to serve something hot such as eggs or pancakes. Lunch is almost always a sandwich heaped high with healthy salad and assorted fillings, with fruit to follow. Dinner might be a BBQ, risotto or pasta dish and there is always the chance to try some local cooking. Generally our passengers find the more they put into a trip, the more they benefit from it.

Back to top ^

Dietary Requirements

If you have any dietary requirements please tell us at the time of booking and also remind your crew at your welcome meeting. Our crew will try to cater for any particular dietary requirement or food intolerance whenever possible. However, it must be remembered that it may not always be possible and the variety of dishes may be severely limited in comparison to those available to others. If there is anything in particular you require in your diet, that you would miss from home, or because of an allergy would miss out on, it would be best to bring this with you. Depending on your particular requirements, you may need to allow yourself some extra spending money to allow you to purchase extra food items.

Back to top ^

Itineraries

Our itineraries are developed and published with the best of intentions, however travel in more remote areas of the world is unpredictable – borders can close, there can be extreme adverse weather, strikes or maybe mechanical issues that affect the running of your trip, but equally due to the nature of our trips we can often spontaneously include a local festival or event into the itinerary. This being said, the safety of our passengers, leaders and operators is a priority for Dragoman. With this in mind we monitor world events very closely. By the very nature of the adventure travel that we take, there are risks and hazards that are inherent in our itineraries. Dragoman makes operational decisions based on informed advice from a number of sources:

• The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice

• Reports from other travel companies and local suppliers

• Leaders reports from off the road

• Local contacts we have built up over many years of experience.

Back to top ^

British Foreign Office Travel Advice and Warnings

Dragoman follows the British Foreign Office Travel advice when deciding where and where we are unable to travel. We will base our decisions on itineraries and alterations to published routes based on their advice rather than the advice of other governments.

However, we recommend you check the latest travel advisories from your own government for the country you are travelling to before you book and prior to departure. If there are any travel warnings present for the region you will travel to, as well as considering whether you are happy to travel despite the warning you must also check to ensure that it is not invalidating your travel insurance. Here are a few useful addresses:

UK -  www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

Australia - http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/

New Zealand - http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/

United States - http://travel.state.gov/travel/travel_1744.html

Canada - http://www.voyage.gc.ca/countries_pays/menu-eng.asp

Dragoman has also teamed up with the UK Foreign and commonwealth office (FCO) in their 'Know before you go campaign' www.gov.uk/knowbeforeyougo. This website offers straightforward travel advice, top tips, and up-to-date country information to help you plan a safe trip. We recommend you check this out before you travel. We will advise you of any significant changes in advice before travel or whilst you are overseas.

Back to top ^

Health

You need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully in our trips. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assessed your ability to cope with our style of travel. To help you assess if this trip is suitable, please refer to the physical rating. The ratings for each trip are a good indication of how challenging they are and in some cases you should be prepared for some long driving days and possibly limited facilities. We are always happy to give extra advice if you have additional concerns. Please note that if, in the opinion of our leader, you are unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to yourself and/or the rest of the group, Dragoman reserves the right to exclude you from all or part of the trip without a refund.

You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information prior to travel, particularly if you have a pre-existing medical condition. We also advise you to declare any pre-existing medical conditions to your travel insurers upon purchase.

Back to top ^

Altitude

Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor. We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatising to high altitude; please discuss these options with your doctor. For trips that travel to areas of high altitude, the tour leader will issue you with a self-assessment altitude questionnaire which allows you to monitor how you are coping with the altitude and informs you of danger signals so that you can reports these as soon as possible, either to the tour leader or a medical professional.

Back to top ^

Yellow Fever

A valid international certificate of vaccination against Yellow Fever is required in many countries. You may need to present this on arrival at the airport or border crossing. Some countries will refuse entry if you are unable to present your certificate. It's also quite common for your home country to request a Yellow Fever certificate on your arrival back home.

It is your responsibility to check with your doctor well in advance of leaving home about the Yellow Fever requirements for the countries you'll be visiting.

Malaria & other mosquito-borne diseases

Some areas that we travel to have a risk of contracting malaria. If you will travel through these areas, it's always best to get expert advice before travelling about the types of malaria pills available, whether they are recommended, and take any that are prescribed as instructed. Consult your GP or travel clinic for the most up-to-date requirements.

Other mosquito-borne diseases such as Dengue Fever, Chikungunya and Zika are continuing to spread and are becoming a bigger problem around the world. Mosquito bite prevention is vital to avoid contracting any of these diseases, as there are no vaccines or specific treatments available. Health professionals have issued warnings for pregnant women travelling to areas affected by the Zika virus - please see more information here.

The mosquito usually bites between the hours of dusk and dawn, so covering up by wearing long-legged and long-sleeved clothing, preferably light-coloured and buttoned at the wrists, can help. Do not sleep without closing your windows, tent door, etc. and use a mosquito net in hotels or if sleeping outside where there are mosquitos present. Use mosquito repellent applied directly to your skin or soaked into your clothing.

Treating clothes and mosquito nets with a Permetherin solution provides significant protection. It should be available at most travel stores. Mosquito coils are useful on still nights and in hotel rooms, but cannot be used inside the tents.

Back to top ^

Vaccinations

Recommended vaccinations and other health protections vary according to different regions and recent bulletins issued by health authorities. It is essential to get the latest specific health advice on the regions and countries you are planning to travel in, so please check with either your doctor or travel clinic in good time before you travel. The following websites are also a helpful resource: www.nathnac.org and www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk

In the UK, we have been working with Nomad Travel for many years and their website has comprehensive, up-to-date vaccination and health information. You will receive a 10% discount off all vaccinations given at Nomad Travel clinics.

Back to top ^

Safety & Security

At Dragoman your safety is of paramount importance and we will do our best to ensure that your travel with us is safe and trouble-free, but we do ask that you take that little bit of extra care whilst you are away and to understand about the nature of this style of travel.

Of course we want you to have an enjoyable time, but you must also remember that part of the enjoyment of travel is experiencing a different way of life and cultures. This may also mean experiencing different safety and hygiene standards than those you are normally used to.

Therefore, please take note of the following safety tips and follow any local safety advice or briefings delivered by our crew or any third-party suppliers we use during your trip.

Back to top ^

Transport Safety

• Our own vehicles have fully-fitted seat belts; make sure you always belt up.

• If you find a safety belt inoperable or missing on one of our vehicles, please inform the crew immediately.

• Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee that other vehicles we may use or recommend in some countries will be fitted with seat belts on every seat as it is not a legal requirement in much of the world.

• Please remain seated on board vehicles at all times when the vehicle is in motion.

• Never place luggage in the aisles or foot wells.

• Ensure you know where your nearest Emergency exit is; this may be a designated emergency exit, a window, a door, or a roof hatch.

• Check the location of the fire extinguisher and first aid kit.

• Follow any safety instructions provided by the crew/driver.

• Our vehicles are fitted with roof seats which can be used in certain conditions, such as when driving at low speeds, off main tarmac roads, etc. They can only be used with the express permission of the crew and you must never sit in them without seat belts.

Road Safety

• Traffic in some countries travels on the opposite side of the road to what you may be used to, so ensure you look both ways before crossing the road.

• In many countries vehicles do not automatically stop at crossings and driving styles may be very unpredictable, so please remain very vigilant when near roads and vehicles.

• Crash helmets are often not provided with mopeds and motorbikes overseas – we do not recommend you hire these vehicles.

Back to top ^

Fire & Other Safety – Hostels/Hotels/Homestays

• Ensure you know where your nearest fire exit is and check to ensure that it is operative.

• Check the location of the nearest fire extinguisher.

• Study the fire instructions in your room if available.

• Identify how to raise the alarm if a fire occurs.

• If a fire occurs, leave immediately; do not stop to collect your effects.

• Proceed to an assembly point well away from the building.

• Electrics in hotels in many of the places that we visit will not be up to the same standards as at home. Please ensure that you check rooms, especially bathrooms and are aware of any issues that look unsafe. If in doubt inform the crew who will endeavour to sort the situation out if possible.

• Staircases and stairwells are often built to a very different design than under western building standards. There may be no guard rails, be excessively steep, have dangerous gaps between the stairs and the wall, etc. At all times be aware and take appropriate and prudent care.

• We often stay in homestays and farmstays. These may range from a traditional yurt through to a tree house or a town house. As these are traditional homes, they may well not adhere to our western standards of safety and so it is important that you make yourself aware of potential risks.

• If in doubt please inform the crew of any safety issues with the hotels/hostels or homestays.

Fire Safety – Campsites

• Ensure you know where the nearest source of water or fire extinguisher is.

• Know how to raise the alarm.

• Extinguish all camping fires fully before retiring to bed.

• Observe any regulations regarding fires and bushfires in dry conditions.

• Identify how to raise the alarm if a fire occurs.

• If a fire occurs, leave immediately; do not stop to collect your effects.

• Proceed to an assembly point away from the tented accommodation/affected campsite.

Other Campsite Safety & Security

• Familiarise yourself with the campsite and any known hazards.

• Group the tents around our vehicle wherever possible.

• No open flames, smoking or flammable liquids in or near the tents.

• Ensure the cooking area is well away from the tents.

• Ensure all water for cooking and drinking is purified first.

• Ensure any soil toilets are a minimum of 50m away from the tents and the cooking area.

• All food waste should be burned or buried a minimum of 100m away from the site.

• Ensure local advice is followed concerning any wildlife in the area.

• Keep valuables locked in the vehicle.

• Be aware of any local security issues that might be important.

• Do not set out tents close to perimeter fences which may be a security risk.

• Be aware of the security arrangements and local guards for campsite and if in doubt ask them where and where not to pitch tents.

• If in doubt please inform the crew of any safety issues with campsite.

• When wild camping, ensure that you do not wander away from the camp alone. If you do leave camp, ensure that you have notified the leader or other members of the group.

Food Safety

• Make sure your food has been thoroughly cooked.

• Hot food should be hot, cold food should be cold.

• Avoid any uncooked food, except fruit and vegetables (notably those you can peel or shell yourself).

• In many countries you should only drink bottled water or purified water and ensure any seal is intact when purchasing bottles.

• On the Dragoman vehicles we have a tank of drinking water that is kept purified by the crew.

• Avoid ice in drinks as this can cause upset stomachs in hot climates.

• Make sure you wash your hands in antibacterial product when preparing and/or eating food.

• Many of the restaurants that you will eat in, either as a group or as individuals, will NOT have the same standards of food hygiene as we have in the western world. Unfortunately this is a reality of life in these regions. Therefore please think carefully about where you eat, what food you order and be aware of the risks.

Back to top ^

Personal Safety
 

One of the real advantages of overland travel is that the vehicle provides a very real level of security when travelling. There is no doubt that a properly-equipped overland vehicle, with safes, fully lockable doors and windows is an obvious advantage when travelling in much of the world. Generally speaking, you will not be travelling on local public transport and will have the added security of travelling in a group with experienced crew on-hand to offer advice. We have come up with a few pointers that we recommend you follow:

• Follow the crew’s specific safety advice in each destination.

• Always remain aware and vigilant, and stay away from situations where you do not feel comfortable.

• Avoid carrying too much money.

• Always avoid carrying your passport, driving licence, air tickets, and other valuable items around with you unless this is essential. Instead, keep valuables such as this locked away in the truck's safe, or the safety deposit box in the room or reception of the hotel/hostel.

• If you are carrying cash, cards or valuables, use a money belt or neck wallet which are more easily concealed and more difficult to pickpocket.

• Do not take any valuable jewellery, watches, etc. away with you in the first place.

• Avoid walking in poorly lit areas.

• If possible avoid walking around on your own; it is always safer to explore with others.

• Always try to walk with confidence and purpose, which will help you avoid looking like a lost tourist!

• Take special care when walking to avoid spraining or twisting your ankle on potholes, cobbles and uneven ground. 

Back to top ^

 

Activity Safety & Optional Activities

You will have the opportunity to take part in many exciting activities and excursions, some of which are included (e.g. hiking the Inca Trail, trekking to see Mountain Gorillas, visiting the Taj Mahal, etc.), whilst others are optional (e.g. white water rafting in Uganda, zip-lining in Costa Rica, etc.). Some of these activities require a certain level of fitness, so it’s important that you read through the trip notes thoroughly and make your own conclusions as to whether you feel that you are fit and healthy enough to enjoy this trip and its activities to their fullest.

Some activities may have higher risks than you are used to and you must judge whether or not you wish, or have the physical ability, to take part.

Optional activities mentioned by Dragoman are not included in the trip price or kitty, and do not form part of your contract with Dragoman. As such you accept that any assistance given by Dragoman crew members or local representatives in arranging optional activities does not render us liable for them in any way. The Dragoman crew are assisting you in arranging these activities for your added enjoyment whilst on your trip. The operators of these services and optional extras are local suppliers who contract directly with the client ‘on the road’, subject to and in accordance with their own terms and conditions. Dragoman accepts no liability for any action or activity undertaken by the client which is arranged independently of Dragoman while on tour. Crew may take part in an optional activity but do so as private individuals and not as company representatives.

Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time.

Ensure that you use the appropriate equipment on optional activities, including life jackets, helmets, etc. This is especially important on activities such as horse riding, white-water rafting, etc.

Always ensure that your travel medical insurance covers you for all included and optional activities that you wish to participate in.

Back to top ^

Included Activities

Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not necessarily be refunded; this is something you will need to check with your leader.

Back to top ^

Optional Activities

A selection of optional activities is listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This list is designed to be a helpful guide as to what is commonly available in each location, and is neither an exhaustive list, a guarantee that the activity is available, or an endorsement or recommendation. Please note that certain activities may not be available on your particular visit if they are overbooked, underbooked, out of season, or for any other reason - the list of activities is made according to our latest information and in the best faith, but please be aware that things may change between our last visit and your arrival. Please also note that it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, and it is recommended to give yourself extra time in your joining or ending city if you would like to participate in some optional activities there. 

Prices listed are for entrance only and do not include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated - again, these prices are displayed according to our latest information and in the best faith, but prices do fluctuate due to exchange rates, season, numbers of participants, and simple increases from the operator - any prices listed are a guide only and certainly cannot be guaranteed. 

Optional activities are not necessarily endorsed or recommended by Dragoman nor included in the price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and does not form part of your contract with Dragoman. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or optional activity form for some optional activities.

Back to top ^

Insurance

It is a condition of booking that you have comprehensive travel insurance. Without evidence of valid travel insurance you will not be allowed to start the trip.

We recommend that any policy has a minimum medical (including repatriation) cover of £5,000,000. We recommend that any policy also has a minimum level of cover for Personal Liability of £2,000,000 and for Cancellation and Curtailment of £5,000 (or the full cost of your trip). Cover for loss of baggage, personal effects, money and other inclusions are down to personal choice although please bear in mind that personal effects are more likely to go missing whilst travelling and you should ensure that your policy is adequate to cover the value of your personal effects e.g. cameras, tablets, phones, ipods, etc. Please note that Dragoman is not responsible for your personal effects and is not insured for their loss. Please note that you should be insured for trip postponment or cancellation purposes immediately upon paying a deposit.

Whatever policy you choose, you must ensure that it is designed for adventure/overland travel and make sure it covers any activity that you intend to undertake (whether included or optional). As such it must cover you for adventure activities such as white water rafting, trekking, horse-riding, etc., and that the 24-hour Emergency Assistance Company must be experienced in handling situations in developing countries - for example, that they have the ability to arrange repatriation from remote areas such as the Sahara or if you were trekking in the Andes. On activities or side trips that are not recommended by us, please ensure you are happy with the safety of the activity before participating.

Please double check if you have annual travel and/or credit card policies to ensure they have the cover you require, as many of these policies are not able to cope with adventure travel to remote areas. Many credit card medical insurance policies are not valid for travelling outside your country of residence or outside the EU.

Back to top ^

Our Liability Insurance

Dragoman has comprehensive passenger vehicle liability protection and tour operator insurance. These policies have total indemnities of £5,000,000 and £10,000,000 per incident respectively. This is in addition to local vehicle insurance and your personal travel insurance.

Back to top ^

Emergency Contact

We have a dedicated 24-hour telephone number which should only be used once you have left your home country to start the trip and in the event of a real emergency. Should you need to call the number, we will do what we can to help but please bear in mind that real progress or action may not be possible until normal office hours.

If your flight is delayed or cancelled, please let us know and then make your way to the joining hotel as instructed in these trip notes. If you cannot get through leave a message and a contact number as these will be regularly checked and the crew informed if necessary.

Emergency Number: +44 (0) 7985 106564

Back to top ^

Luggage & Kit List

Although you will not have to carry your main bag for long distances, you will need to help load and unload them onto the truck. For this reason we recommend that you use a backpack or soft bag rather than a heavy suitcase. During your trip your main luggage will be kept in the truck's back locker which will be inaccessible during a drive day, so you will also need a small daypack. This can be used to carry your camera, water bottle and other personal effects for daily use. Please be aware that due to the constant dust and vibrations your luggage bag will be subject to extreme wear and tear.

The size of baggage that can be brought on this tour is limited by the locker space on the truck. Different trucks have different-sized lockers, however to be safe we recommend that your bag be no larger than a large rucksack with a capacity of about 80 litres (approximately 70cm high, 40cm wide, and 40cm deep). The weight limit for luggage on all trucks is a maximum of 20kg. Backpacks should not have an external frame unless it can be easily removed and stored separately to avoid damaging other people's luggage.

Your clothes and equipment should be appropriate for the conditions you are travelling in, which will vary depending on which part of the world you're heading to. On overland trips, Dragoman will provide all camping equipment apart from sleeping bags and ground mats, so you'll need to bring those with you*.

Think about the climate and altitude of the areas you'll be travelling to - there's nothing worse than being cold at night so it's worth investing in a decent sleeping bag if it's likely to get cold. And remember that even when it's warm during the day, it can often get cold at night, particularly in desert regions.

For a general idea of what you need, this list provides a guide:

• Sleeping bag* - check the expected climate en route. Nights in desert, mountain and high-altitude regions and Patagonia can be very cold, especially in winter months.

• Sleeping bag liner* (or sheet folded and sewn up on 2 sides) - this will help keep your sleeping bag clean, provide extra insulation on cold nights, and can be used on its own on warm nights.

• Ground mat or compressed foam*.

• A day pack is useful for short hikes in the countryside, wandering around cities, etc., and also for keeping inside the vehicle for items used during the day.

• 2 sets of comfortable travelling clothes (light, easily washable cotton clothes are best).

• 1 set of casual but smart clothes for evenings out. Men should bring a pair of trousers that covers al their legs and women should bring a skirt that covers their knees and a scarf for visiting places of worship.

• 2 pairs of shorts.

• Sun hat or warm hat if trekking.

• 1 pair of sunglasses.

• Warm sweater/fleeces.

• 1 waterproof jacket with hood.

• 1 pair of comfortable walking shoes/boots (or ankle height canvas jungle boots).

• 1 pair of sandals or flip-flops.

• Underwear and socks  - thermals are also a good idea if you are travelling to altitude, Patagonia or to the desert, as it can get very cold at night.

• Swimwear.

• 2 small towels.

• Washing kit, including a small mirror.

• Clothes washing detergent, small scrubbing brush and washing line (just a length of cord).

• Head torch/flashlight with spare batteries and bulbs - only the 3 standard sizes of round 1.5V batteries are widely available en route.

• Passport photos - at least 4, and more if you are applying for visas en route.

• Good water bottle - at least 1 litre capacity.

• A pouch or money belt to be worn inside your clothing, or an unobtrusive pocket sewn into the inside of a pair of loose fitting trousers.

• Alarm clock.

• Pocket calculator - useful when exchanging money.

• Writing materials and notebook/diary.

• Multi purpose knife.

• Mosquito net - the tents supplied by us have mosquito netting and you will only need a net if you think you will sleep out under the stars a lot of the time.

• "Wet Wipes" (moistened tissues) and hand gel.

• Toilet paper - this can be purchased almost everywhere en-route, but one roll may be worth packing.

• Assorted sized plastic bags - protects clothing and equipment from dust and damp.

• Extra batteries for your camera, etc., as there may are only limited opportunities to recharge them en route.

For a comprehensive kit list, take a look at the Dragoman kit list that Nomad Travel has created. Dragoman customers can receive a 10% discount on all equipment purchased either online or in store. Click here to see the kit list - http://www.nomadtravel.co.uk/c/381/Overland

*For trips with camping nights.

Back to top ^

Personal Medical Kit

All of our trucks have a standard motorist's first aid kit on board for use in emergency situations only. The first aid kit is in compliance with UK standards for first aid provision within motor vehicles, and contain supplies to treat road side injuries. We do not carry prescription medications, therefore in addition to this we recommend that you purchase your own personal medical kit.

In the UK we have teamed up with Nomad Travel Stores and Clinics to produce travel medical kits. They have been designed in conjunction with the truck kits and contain everything you would need for any minor incidents and health issues. For more details please visit their website:

Overlander kit (including painkillers) - www.nomadtravel.co.uk/p/2910/Overlander-Medical-Kit-(P)

Independent kit (including painkillers and antibiotics) - www.nomadtravel.co.uk/p/2909/Independent-Medical-Kit-(POM)

Back to top ^

Passports

Check that your passport will still be valid for 6 months after the end of your trip - this is important as some countries WILL refuse entry to anyone whose passport is due to expire. A temporary or 'visitor's' passport is not valid on our trips. You will need to provide us with your passport details prior to departing for your trip. If you change your passport, please remember to inform us as soon as possible - however, please be aware that changing your passport can cause big problems if you need to apply for visas or permits (such as the Inca Trail or Gorilla Trekking) in advance.

Back to top ^

Pre and Post Trip Accommodation and Connecting Flights

At Dragoman we believe you should make the most of the places you visit, so if you would like to see more of the joining or finishing point cities, why not book additional accommodation to extend your stay? Dragoman can take away the hassle of time zones and language barriers by making the booking for you. This accommodation is only available at the joining or finishing city of your trip, immediately before or after the trip you are travelling on.

While Dragoman is happy to assist with booking your pre and post trip accommodation, it is important that you understand that you may be able to book your own room at a cheaper rate directly through the hotel or on the internet. Our additional accommodation prices are based on the hotel’s rate plus an administration fee. Please note our rates do not reflect last minute walk-in rates or internet specials.

We can also book arrival airport transfers for you as long as we have your flight arrival details. These are normally payable in cash upon arrival; however we do have pre-paid transfers in a few destinations.

Please contact our reservations team for details of the accommodation and transfers that we can offer, as not all hotels offer this service.

Back to top ^

Continuing Your Trip

Having an amazing trip and met a great group of people? Having too much fun to go home yet? If you're on one of our trips and decide that you would like to continue with us, then why not speak to your trip leader who can advise you of the cost and availability of continuing your journey.

Back to top ^

Contingency Emergency Fund

Sometimes, civil or political unrest, or reasons beyond Dragoman's control (e.g. a natural disaster), can mean that an itinerary is disrupted and we have to make a contingency plan. This may involve hiring alternate transport or even the whole group flying over an area. Although Dragoman will help organise travel arrangements, in circumstances outside Dragoman's control you will be required to contribute the additional costs involved and therefore we ask you to bring along a 'Contingency Fund' of USD400. In almost all cases trips run smoothly and this fund is therefore never used. We also recommend that you take along an internationally recognised credit or charge card with a decent limit in case of emergencies, such as medical treatment en route, or even the need to be repatriated; though these occurrences are rare. Remember that travel insurance policies usually only refund you for expenses after you have already paid out.

Back to top ^

Responsible Tourism

Dragoman is committed to ensuring that we have a positive impact on local communities and that we implement policies to minimise any negative impact on the local environment. We are dedicated to making sure that we adopt a responsible attitude to the areas through which we travel and believe that our trips should benefit the local people and their environment. Dragoman recognises that we are guests of local communities and strive to make these communities our partners, so that they benefit directly from our visit. You can find full details of Dragoman’s Responsible Tourism policy from the link below:

www.dragoman.co.uk/about-us/responsible-travel/our-commitment

Back to top ^

Water

The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in the bottle, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments.

Please avoid the purchase of bottled water by using the chemically sterilised water stored in the purpose-built storage tank on your overland vehicle. You are free to refill your bottle as many times a day as you like. You are helping the environment and your pocket!

Back to top ^

Electrical Equipment

Your vehicle will be usually equipped with a 12-Volt socket, so to charge your iPod, MP3 player, camera, laptop and mobile phone you will need a DC 12V adapter - the type that can be used from a cigarette lighter in your car. Please be aware that only one piece of equipment can be charged at a time and it will not be allowed if there is a risk of running the vehicle’s batteries low. Batteries may also be recharged from hotel room wall sockets and the majority of the campsites we stay at have electricity points, so please bring along your normal charging adapters as well. You will need to ensure that you have the correct country adapter for your specific charger.

For mobile phones, please note that most countries in the Americas operate at 850 MHz and 1900 MHz which is not the same frequencies used in Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. Most modern tri-band and quad-band mobile phones will be able to operate on these frequencies but please check your mobile phone specifications before travelling to ensure that you'll be able to use your phone in the Americas.

Back to top ^

A Few Rules

Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs is not only against the law, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Dragoman groups.

It is one of our core values to treat all people we encounter with respect which of course includes all the local people who make our destinations so special. The exploitation of prostitutes or children is completely contrary to this philosophy.

Equally Dragoman will not tolerate any violence or threat of violence towards local people, other group members or any member of our staff. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession, if they use prostitutes, abuse children, use violence or threaten violence, without a refund of the trip price.

We expect you to obey all the laws of the countries through which we pass. This particularly applies to the smuggling of contraband and possession of narcotic drugs (as above), firearms, antiquities and ivory. Any customer found contravening such laws or customs will be required to leave the trip immediately with no refund of the trip price.

Back to top ^

Issues on the Trip

While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local partner straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

We recognise that there may be times when your group leader may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction. If this is the case please contact our customer relations department on

customer-relations@dragoman.co.uk.

You may also choose to provide details in your feedback questionnaire which we ask you to complete at the end of your trip, but we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.

Back to top ^

Tipping

Tipping is entirely voluntary. The Dragoman crew may be travelling with you for many weeks and usually they become good friends with most members of the group. It is sometimes easy to forget that they do work hard to ensure that you do have a great trip. If you feel you would like to tip them, they certainly would appreciate it.

On a number of our trips, we also use a local guide as well as our own Dragoman crew. These guides live and travel with you through their home country and it is usual to tip them when they leave. We recommend USD 1 to USD 4 per person per day, but check with your crew for an appropriate amount.

Back to top ^

Our Community

At any time before or after you book, you can join our community - Dragoland. This is a great place to ask questions before you travel and to catch up with your fellow travellers once your trip has finished. You can share photos, videos and stories and you can also download a selection of free travel apps. See the home page to sign in - it's free and easy. We also have a Facebook page where travellers regularly swap info with each other, as well as other presence on other social media platforms.

Back to top ^

Feedback

After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us to understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better, and it allows us to make improvements for future travellers.

Back to top ^