Travel: Hop On, Hop Off

BUS YOUR WAY AROUND THE WORLD

Hop on hop off Africa

What began as long overland journeys from London to Cape Town across the heart of Africa taking several months have shrunk into shorter journeys of five or six weeks through the cream of popular Africa, taking in the eastern reaches of great game-viewing, stunning African vistas and a rapidly changing African countryside. But a disadvantage of overland travel remains the combination of time and the huge distances travelled. Schedules have to be maintained whilst keeping up the interest, with majority rule prevailing among the paying customers. Desires change and nowadays many overlanders want more say in their own schedule.

I have often felt confined by conventional overland truck travel, when there is no chance for another day or two at a particular location. Returning to a place for a second visit, you often lose the impact of the first.

A solution could be "hop-on, hop-off" travel through southern and eastern Africa - combining the overland experiences at a pace suited to individual tastes. A company called Truck About (0171-536 9316) has just begun such a service, mimicking similar operations elsewhere. The company's Angela Mullen says, "People like independence, but also want the security of being in an established group."

The principle is the same as used when city sightseeing across the world, but transposed to Africa. Trucks operate to a fixed schedule. Passengers get on and off at will, with a fresh truck passing every couple of days. The two crew on board each vehicle take care of all the border formalities - a godsend for the inexperienced traveller - and will guide you through the processes should you wish to sample travelling beyond the reach of the passes on your own.

You buy a colour-coded pass: the cheapest option is the pounds 99 blue pass, starting in Nairobi, valid for four weeks and covering Kenya and Tanzania only. It would ideally suit those who have limited time and budget and want the most out of the wildlife reserves and still have time to climb Kilimanjaro and visit Zanzibar. At the other end of the price spectrum, a nine-week red version, also commencing in Nairobi and valid for Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana, costs pounds 485. Given the uncertainties of travel in East Africa, tragically illustrated by last week's crash on the Nairobi-Mombasa railway, there is a lot to be said for the security of this means of transport. But for Botswana and Zimbabwe (covered, along with Zambia, in a "green pass"), you would need to compare prices and flexibility with the generally reliable local transport system.

Hop on hop off worldwide

Britain and Ireland

The bus service formerly known as Slow Coach has become the Stray Travel Network. You can travel around Britain, Scotland, Wales and Ireland in any mixture of combinations, but in one direction only. Separate departures from London on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. A Scotland-only pass cost pounds 75 and takes a minimum of three days. The full monty costs pounds 320 and includes the ferry link to Ireland. Passes are valid for a year. Call 0171-373 7737 or visit www.straytravel.com

MacBackpackers in Edinburgh offers a hop-on, hop-off circuit of Scotland beginning in Edinburgh and going to Inverness, Kyle of Lochalsh (for Isle of Skye) and Fort William, and back to Edinburgh. There's no time limit. For your pounds 55, buses depart on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday all the year round. Accommodation is usually in hostels. Call 0131-558 9900 or visit www.macback packers.com

Europe

Busabout Europe offers unlimited hop-on, hop-off coach passes allowing travel throughout much of Europe. Passes last for from two weeks to six months with a variety of routes offering access to more than 60 cities and towns throughout Europe. There are connecting links to additional destinations including Ibiza, the Greek islands, Morocco, Turkey and Scandinavia. Departures are every two days on most circuits. A 15-day pass costs pounds 249, and an unlimited pass pounds 895. Call 0171-950 1661, or www.busabout.com

Turkey

Fez Travel offers hop on hop off in Turkey between 27 April and 26 October, with timed options of either 12 days, two months, or from your first journey until the end of the season on 26 October. Prices begin at pounds 89 for a 12- day pass, but an all-season pass costs only pounds 30 more. Call 01710-706 1539. e-mail feztravel@fez travel.com, or visit www. feztravel.com.

Australia and New Zealand

The people behind Oz and Kiwi Experience claim to have developed the idea first, when they began the hop-on hop-off experience in New Zealand back in 1989. The twin companies now offer a variety of passes and packages, ranging from travellers buying single sectors (from pounds 60 in Australia) to a year of unlimited stops (in one direction of travel only) for pounds 480.

Departures from major cities are almost daily. They follow set routes, making the best of the scenic, cultural and natural attractions these countries have to offer. In Australia, only the east coast and the centre are covered, but the North and South Islands of New Zealand have reasonably thorough networks.

A single sector in NZ is below pounds 30, while pounds 220 buys the whole country, starting anywhere and returning to the same place. Single sector "Onepasses" must be brought outside either country. Website: www.ozex. com.au.

Southern Africa

Baz Bus covers southern Africa, from Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwe-Zambia border to Cape Town in South Africa passing through Mozambique and Swaziland. Departures are almost daily. Costs range from pounds 130 one way from Victoria Falls to Cape Town, down to pounds 85 from Cape Town to Durban.

Website: www.bazbus.com

US

The Us Bus offers flexipasses with fixed departure and drop-off points. Accommodation is usually in hostels. Where these aren't available, they use a variety of inexpensive motels, private hostelries and cabins. The shorter East Coast Explorer route from Boston to New York via Cape Cod costs pounds 59. For pounds 259 you can go coast to coast. Us Bus can be reached on 01892 532060, or e-mailed at TheUsbus@att.net or amaduk@attmail.com

All these companies are also bookable through STA Travel (0171-361 6161), Adventure Travel Centre (0171-370 4555), Backpackers (0171-706 1539) and Global Connect (0171-371 6300)

Geoffrey Roy

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Prince and 3RDEYEGIRL are releasing Plectrum Electrum next month

music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Carell in the poster for new film 'Foxcatcher'
filmExclusive: First look at comic actor in first major serious role
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Kingston Road in Stockton is being filmed for the second series of Benefits Street
arts + entsFilming for Channel 4 has begun despite local complaints
Arts and Entertainment
Led Zeppelin

music
Arts and Entertainment
Radio presenter Scott Mills will be hitting the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce performs in front of a Feminist sign at the MTV VMAs 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has taken home the prize for Video of the Year at the MTV Video Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Paige and Scott Lowell in Queer as Folk (Season 5)
tvA batch of shows that 'wouldn't get past a US network' could give tofu sales an unexpected lift
Arts and Entertainment
books... but seller will be hoping for more
Arts and Entertainment
John Kearns winner of the Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award with last years winners: Bridget Christie and Frank Skinner
comedyJohn Kearns becomes the first Free Fringe act to win the top prize
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Sue Vice
booksAcademic says we should not disregard books because they unexpectedly change genre
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Muscato performs as Michael Crawford in Stars in Their Eyes

TV
Arts and Entertainment
‘Game of Thrones’

TV
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
    Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

    What is the appeal of Twitch?

    Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
    Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

    How bosses are making us work harder

    As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
    Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

    Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

    As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
    Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

    A tale of two writers

    Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
    Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

    Should pupils get a lie in?

    Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
    Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

    Prepare for Jewish jokes...

    ... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
    SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

    A dream come true for SJ Watson

    Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
    10 best cycling bags for commuters

    10 best cycling bags for commuters

    Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
    Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

    Paul Scholes column

    Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
    Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

    Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

    A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
    Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

    The science of herding is cracked

    Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
    Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

    This tyrant doesn’t rule

    It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?