What did travel look like when you first headed off into the great unknown?
Did you pack your worldly possessions into a suitcase, board a plane (in a time when smoking was still permitted on flights), pool your funds to buy a cheap car – even better if it was a clapped-out Kombi – or stick your thumb out at the side of the road and chase the sun across Asia to Europe?
This year, we put together a very special itinerary, recreating part of the famous Hippie Trail from Bangkok to Istanbul, through India, Nepal, Iran, and finishing in Turkey. If you travelled in the ‘60s and ‘70s, it’s a chance to revisit your first grand adventure, fill in the blanks, and experience its wonders in a little more, well – comfort. If you weren’t able to see it back then, now’s your opportunity to enjoy it for the first time on a small group adventure.
What was the Hippie Trail?
The Hippie Trail was an overland journey, made famous in the ‘60s and ‘70s by wandering travellers, most notably, members of the hippie subculture. The route wound its way from South East Asia to India, through Nepal, Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey, and on to Europe. Hitch-hiking between towns was the most common way to get around, with backpackers meeting up in hostels, bars and gathering spots along the way to share stories, connections and ideas (it was the ‘60s, after all). It was a search for adventure, with everyone seeking the ultimate: enlightenment.
A journey of firsts
For many, travelling on the Hippie trail was a time of firsts: the first time away from the comfort and security of home, the first time trying eye-wateringly hot curries and sweet chai tea, the first time hearing the melodic and sombre call to prayer. It was the first time we struggled with language, the first time we were truly in the minority, the first time we embraced that spirit of adventure to just… go with it.
Famous people along the trail
Beat poet Allen Ginsberg moved from New Jersey to India in 1962, embracing it as his ‘promised land’ and embarking on a spiritual journey across the country. Cat Stevens visited the area and penned his famous ‘Katmandu’ song (spelt without the H) as he sought out the treasures of the ‘mystic East’. The Beatles travelled to Rishikesh, amid a cloud of publicity, to attend a workshop in transcendental meditation – along with psychedelic folk singer Donovan and Mike Love from the Beach Boys. During their time in India, the group penned multiple songs, many of which ended up on ‘The White Album’ and ‘Abbey Road’. Who knows? You might end up creating your own magnum opus after an adventure on the trail!
How adventure has changed
The rise of budget airlines and high-speed rail networks has made travel considerably cheaper, and – these days – there’s no need to line up to use the phone at the post office, send letters home via airmail, or stick your thumb out for a ride to the next town.
The Trail - then and now
Many destinations along the Hippie Trail are no longer recommended to travellers, due to war, political unrest and extremism. Afghanistan was – for a time – relatively peaceful, as the country began taking steps to a more westernised way of life; Pakistan had a burgeoning film industry and live music scene (nightclubs were banned in 1977); and Iraq’s capital Baghdad was an elegant, prosperous city. Similarly, countries that were difficult to travel in at the time – due to the Vietnam War, Cambodia’s horrific Pol Pot regime, and military rule in Myanmar – are significantly more accessible today, and are, in fact, welcoming travellers with open arms. Those places you may have missed the first time around are now ready to be explored; you can finish that unfinished journey.
Hippie Trail 2018
We’ve pulled together a few of our favourite tours along the overland route to create a newer (more comfortable) option for crossing the Hippie Trail. Visit your favourite spot along the trail, or throw yourself into a grand adventure and book all seven! Our friendly sales team are standing by to assist with bookings, additional accommodation requirements and flights.
|Trip Name||Departing Date||Departing City||Finishing Date||Finishing City||Days||View Trip|
|Total Thailand||08 January 2018||Bangkok||26 January 2018||Phuket||19||View Trip|
|Magical Myanmar||05 February 2018||Yangon||18 February 2018||Yangon||14||View Trip|
|Colours of India||20 February 2018||New Delhi||16 March 2018||Trivandrum||25||View Trip|
|Colours of Nepal||17 March 2018||Kathmandu||27 March 2018||Kathmandu||11||View Trip|
|Ancient Persia in Depth||05 April 2018||Tehran||18 April 2018||Tehran||14||View Trip|
|Glimpse of Turkey||21 April 2018||Antalya||29 April 2018||Istanbul||9||View Trip|
... Then continue your journey onwards to Europe View Trips