You might be a fresh off Instagram traveller and blogger, or a grizzled old hand (as I claim to be!), but there are some people in the travel business to whom we all owe some recognition for the style and range of travel opportunities they were instrumental in changing for us.
In the 1960’s, there was an explosion of younger adventurers heading to different parts of the world, often throwing up steady jobs or college courses to seek the heady thrills and experiences of the East, the Andes, and overland travel through the newly emerging independent countries of Africa. To be honest, such whimsical travellers were often under-resourced and may not have had a clear destination or intent, but they went for it in a big way !
A few more enterprising travellers saw that if they could procure a bus or ex-army truck with a couple of competent drivers, they could easily fill it with passengers hoping to get as far as they could – some choosing to go for the whole hog, such as London to Kathmandu, Cairo to Cape Town, trans-Sahara, or even London to Sydney, needing only the nominal transport costs, a sleeping bag, and a few dollars a day to have out of this world experiences.
Dozens of small companies sprang up at this time, some with a degree of experience, some completely winging it and a few with the skills and tenacity to make these long journeys work. Most of the well known names of travel originated in this era, Contiki, Penn Overland, Exodus, Dragoman, Top Deck, Hann Overland, PennWorld, and my future boss at Explore Worldwide came from that stable. It is reckoned that during the heyday of the London to Kathmandu overland, in the 60s and 70s there were some 100 ‘companies’ offering trips to Nepal. But these companies ranged from one man and a beaten-up old Land Rover or truck and no back-up up to Penn Overland, usually reckoned to be the largest and most professionally run set-up using modern coaches. At the height of the overland era Penn was running about one coach per week at some periods of the year, with great back-up – if a coach broke down a team of drivers would bring out a replacement coach in just a few days of breakneck driving. A Land Rover or Penn – you paid your money and took your choice.
With a few colleagues who survived some of the financial and physical crashes that were bound to occur in such a precarious environment, Derek Moore and friends set up Explore as a response to the demand for adventurous travel from the boomer generation, but recognised that not everyone could, or would commit themselves to 3 or 6 months on the road. What was needed were episodes of the long-haul adventure that could be done in two or three weeks holiday time, and very quickly, Explore became by far the leading adventure travel company, expanding from a modest base in the UK to sell to clients in America, Australia and further afield.
One huge difference from the conventional resort plus excursions holiday was that Explore always pointed out that travel in places off the beaten track could be risky; breakdowns, broken bridges, tetchy border officials, basic food, limited water supplies and unpredictable weather were among the common hazards, (see this Amateuremigrant post for more). Explore fixed on their market by saying that if you weren’t prepared to take such things on board, then DON’T book with us. They produced detailed trip dossiers which attracted praise for the honesty and accuracy of itineraries and the limitations that might be encountered.
After tour leading between 1968-1981, Derek took up the reins of working in operations and took the company to new levels. During all that time, and subsequently he became more aware of the possibility of giving back something to the communities which informed and enlivened the travel experiences of others. Having been retired for a while now, he has set up a remarkable UK charity focussing on small-scale practical and sustainable work with people in remote areas. To boost the charity coffers, he has written a book “Rogue on the Road” about his life and times which will surely interest many people – he has also generously given the proceeds to the charity and you can receive this book absolutely free (plus postage as relevant) in return for a minimum donation via Virgin giving, (dedicated links on the DMF site)
Here’s a link to a short video Derek made to explain the project in his own words
Please visit the website and I hope you can find the spare cash for a remarkable and welcome endeavour, at www.thederekmoorefoundation.org