The best travel adventures do not happen in a flash of instant gratification. Instead, they are the long, meandering journeys that give us more immersive, interactive experiences to savor. Sure, jumbo jets might get you to your destination faster; but once you arrive, I believe that overland adventures are the key to truly exploring the heart and soul of a place.
Slowing down allows us time to get a richer, more in-depth experience. We have an opportunity to interact with locals, visit attractions that are less beleaguered by overtourism, and still have time in-between activities to reflect. When we move too quickly in an attempt to check items off a list, we barely have time to absorb what we see out the window, let alone feel the breeze coming in!
If you’re looking for a quick, relaxing weekend getaway, jet-setting off to some exotic tropical locale might be just what the doctor ordered. But if you really want to explore a destination, overland adventures are where it’s at. Here are a few of our favorite overland expeditions that Zegrahm has to offer:
High Times in the Himalayas
The Himalayas heave up as the highest mountain range on the planet. This is not the sort of place for fleeting visits; it demands more attention, calling for boots in the soil and time to explore. We have to look out at the vistas stretching far, wide, and high into the sky. Zegrahm’s 16-day Spirit of the Himalayas expedition provides all of the above.
Not only does the region present some of nature’s most stunning attractions, it also has unique indigenous culture to soak up. Mountain monasteries color the frozen landscape with striking temples, statuaries, and shrines. Regional aromas and music from centuries of Buddhism linger like incense in the air.
An overland adventure is the perfect way to immerse yourself in everything the Himalayas have to offer. Activities include everything from camping next to Ladakh’s largest monastery to driving along the Indus River. You’ll wake at sunrise with monks, and stare at the moonscape from Lamayuru. You’ll learn about the Golden Temple, visit waterfalls and tea plantations, and even stop by the Dalai Lama’s home base.
Outback in Australia
Australia has the oddest array of endemic animals of any place on Earth. Here, kangaroo joeys ride in pouches, crocs snap, dingoes howl, and some bats are big enough to carry the dingoes away. Zegrahm’s Unexplored Australia expedition gives wildlife lovers a chance to get on the land, in the water, and up close to these astonishing animals.
If 4x4s zipping through scenic national parks and boats cruising down wildlife-rich waterways sounds like your kind of adventuring, this journey in Kununurra, Bungle Bungle, and Arnhem Land might suit you. The trip passes through Darwin, where the big reptiles are known to roam. It makes stops at towering sandstone cliffs that are over 300 million years old. Visitors coast along billabongs and through wetlands, spotting prehistoric-looking crocodiles all along the way.
But there is more to this region than the animals and landscapes. Rich Aboriginal cultures have survived here for centuries. In addition to learning a bit of Miriwoong (the Aboriginal language), there will also be plenty of indigenous art to help tell the stories of the locals’ ancient ancestors.
Adventures in Alaska’s Incredible Parks
Within Alaska’s vast borders lies some of the most remarkable natural beauty you’ll find anywhere in the world. Alaska is renowned for its national parks, which are packed with pristine glacial scenery and gigantic wildlife (see: grizzly bears, moose, wolves, and bald eagles). But in order to really explore these remarkable parks, you’ve got to take your time.
Zegrahm’s 15-day Alaska’s National Parks expedition gives travelers a chance to visit Denali National Park, Kenai Fjords National Park, Wrangell-St. Elias (America’s largest reserve), and Katmai. Overlanding around Alaska doesn’t get much more adventurous. Guests can also add on a cruise through the Prince William Sound to take in Alaska’s incredible coastline, which makes for an even more unforgettable experience.
When visiting Alaska, wildlife will provide a near-constant thrill: Bears are at home, mountain goats are on the roam, whales are breaching, and sea lions are barking away. The scenery is dramatic and dynamic, with massive glaciers, unspoiled expanses of forest, and plenty of picturesque mountain views.
Exploring East Africa
When looking to see Africa’s most popular wildlife species, safaris in Tanzania rank high on most travelers’ bucket lists. Here, you get to meet these amazing animals on their level, in the wild, rather than in zoo enclosures. But enjoying animals in this more natural way doesn’t come quickly, which is part of what makes Zegrahm’s Remote Tanzania journeys so memorable.
In Selous Game Reserve, you’ll find behemoths such as elephants, hippos, and Cape buffalo roving the land, not to mention crocodiles cruising the river and hundreds of types of birds. Ruaha National Park has some 10,000 elephants, 500 bird species, a diverse array of herd animals, and big cats on the prowl. Located in the western reaches of the country, Katavi National Park offers up more of this amazing wildlife in an area that’s rarely visited.
Finally, Mahale National Park has beautiful white sand beaches that border Lake Tanganyika and offer lots of mountain hiking. This park is home to Tanzania’s largest chimpanzee population, and is one of only two areas of the country where they are protected.
Brazil by Land
Brazil is known for its wildness. For some, that might mean Carnival, or parties in Rio de Janeiro; but for nature-loving adventurers, it would be difficult to imagine a trip to Brazil without disappearing into a jungle or two. Zegrahm’s 19-day Wild Brazil expedition exposes guests to the bevy of natural parks, ecological biomes, and botanical wonders the country has to offer.
Though the terrain may be wild and the primates free to swing, Brazil is replete with eco-lodges from which to base your explorations. Wildlife watchers (and photographers) will get a chance to observe titi and howler monkeys, search for giant anteaters, and spot vibrantly colored parrots. In the Pantanal, the world’s largest wetland, there are also caiman, giant river otters, tapirs, and jaguars to add to the list.
Traveling to Brazil without bearing witness to such diverse natural majesty just wouldn’t be the same. It’s an amazing place to see via an overland adventure, and perhaps even more extraordinary to see by river boat.
Jonathon Engels is a traveler, writer, and vegan gardener. Born and raised in Louisiana, he has lived as an expat for over a decade, worked in nearly a dozen countries, and visited dozens of others in between. His interests include permaculture, cooking, and music. More of his work can be found at Jonathon Engels: A Life About.