Zebras at Sunset

Why Overland Adventures Rock

Guest Contributor|November 13, 2017|Blog Post

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.



Related Blog Posts

  • Raja Ampat, Indonesia
    Blog Post

    25 Fascinating Facts About Coral Reefs Around the World

    September 15, 2018 | Blog Post

    If you’ve spent any time snorkeling or scuba diving in places like Australia, the Galápagos Islands, or 

    Read More

    Blog Post

    Polar Bears in Svalbard: Where to See Them & What's Being Done to Save Them

    February 20, 2018 | Blog Post

    Halfway between Norway and the North Pole, you’ll find a place where polar bears outnumber people. The area is known as the Svalbard Archipelago, of which Spitsbergen is both the largest island and the only one permanently populated by humans.

    Read More

    Polar Bear
    Blog Post

    Top 6 Places to Spot Polar Bears

    February 20, 2018 | Blog Post

    The highlight for any Arctic explorer is the privilege of witnessing polar bears in their natural habitat. There are an estimated 20,000 of these amazing creatures left on the planet; here, the best places to spot them.


    Read More

  • Reindeer, Lapland
    Blog Post

    Arctic Wildlife Vs Antarctic Wildlife

    February 1, 2018 | Blog Post

    The planet’s polar regions, the Arctic and Antarctic, are both remarkably cold, which may explain why people often get them confused. Both are technically cold deserts, with very little precipitation.

    Read More

    Sunrise in Botswana
    Blog Post

    The Camps of Signature Botswana

    January 30, 2018 | Blog Post

    Botswana is one of our favorite safari destinations; in fact, we’ve been offering expeditions in this premier safari destination since 1992!

    Read More

    Maasai Warrior
    Blog Post

    Maasai Culture & History: Understanding the Soul of East Africa

    January 29, 2018 | Blog Post

    Standing proud in the savannah with their red blankets and painted shields, the Maasai people have become one of the more widely known symbols of East Africa; the Maasai shield is even featured on Kenya’s national flag.

    Read More

  • Japanese Tea Ceremony

    Basic Japanese Etiquette [Infographic]

    January 23, 2018 | Infographics

    Japan is a warm and welcoming country, but its unique culture can be as daunting as it is captivating for the first-time visitor. To help create a blooper-free journey, ready yourself with a few of these basic etiquette tips before your trip.  

    Read More

    Ultimate Galapagos
    Blog Post

    Top 10 Off-the-Beaten-Path Travel Destinations for 2018

    January 22, 2018 | Blog Post

    Last year the big news in travel was the negative impacts mass tourism had on beloved destinations such as Barcelona, Venice, and Scotland’s Isle of Skye.

    Read More

    Hokkaido: Japan's Wild Island

    Hokkaido Scouting Report

    January 18, 2018 | Video

    This May, we'll be embarking on our brand-new expedition to Hokkaido: Japan's Wild Island - and we can't wait! Program Manager Sean Koenig recently returned from a scouting trip to the region with Expedit

    Read More

  • Gorillas of the Congo
    Blog Post

    Gorillas in the Congo: Discovering One of the World's Most Threatened Species

    January 16, 2018 | Blog Post

    For any wildlife fanatic, witnessing gorillas in their natural habitat is usually high up on the list of once-in-a-lifetime experiences. The Republic of the Congo has long been known as one of the best places in the world for spotting these beautiful creatures, despite the fact that they can be elusive without an expert guide by your side.

    Read More

    Vinales Valley, Cuba
    Blog Post

    Q&A with Cuba Expert Nadia Eckhardt

    January 15, 2018 | Blog Post

    Born in Cape Town, South Africa, Nadia Eckhardt has been one of Zegrahm’s most popular expedition leaders since she started working for the company in 1992.

    Read More

    Apataki, Tuamotu Islands
    Field Report

    2017 Tahiti to Easter Island Field Report

    January 10, 2018 | Field Report

    Monday, November 6, 2017 - Papeete, Tahiti / Embark Caledonian Sky

    Read More