By Nadeem Badshah
IT IS the world’s longest bus route, spanning 12,000 miles to link the UK with Delhi in India.
And the 70-day trip through 18 countries, set to be launched in May 2021, has been met with approval by leading Indians in Britain.
Passengers will be able to hop on in London or Delhi. Their journey will take them through multiple countries including Burma, Thailand, China, the ‘Silk Road’ through Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan along with Russia and Germany.
But there are some potential bumps in the road. The bus has no toilet, so there will be breaks every two hours, and a ticket will set them back £15,000 for the journey, and will include food, visa services and overnight stays.
Amish Tripathi, director of the Nehru Centre in London, said one of the pitfalls of air travel in comparison is missing the finer details of a journey.
He told Eastern Eye: “More time would be spent at airports, which frankly, across most of the developed world, are copies of each other. There’s nothing like a road trip to get a real feel of the land. This road trip sounds exciting for those tourists who like to actually experience the place, rather than just tick off a travel to-do list.
“Even more, a road trip helps the real economy as many small restaurants, services, who are normally ignored, get the benefits of the tourist dollar.
“I assume that proper safeguards are in place considering the Covid pandemic that the world is suffering from – without that, there would be very little custom for this bus route.”
The package is being offered by travel firm Adventures Overland, based in the north Indian state of Haryana. It said the “life-changing journey” will take place on a 20-seat luxury bus.
Lord Rami Ranger CBE, founder of the Sun Mark food brand, told Eastern Eye: “This travel bus service will offer a unique and exciting travelling experience of a lifetime as the journey will be overland, taking in the beauty and charm of the surrounding areas.
“I would say it will be like a cruise, providing a five-star luxury experience enroute. (It’s) the ideal opportunity to make new friends and associations.
“The guests will experience a variety of local cuisines, wines, fruits.”
Adventures Overland said among the sights on the route are meeting rare species of giant pandas, hiking the Great Wall of China and a cruise on the Caspian Sea in Kazakhstan.
Entrepreneur Professor Peter Virdee said he would love to take the journey.
He said: “I think it’s a very good initiative. It is taking us forward in travel as this is how people used to travel back in the day, when they wanted to come by road from India to the UK.
“I did a journey on Palace on Wheels [luxury train in north India] and that for me was an unforgettable experience, so I can only imagine how great these memories and this trip will be for others.
“My only concern is that with other companies currently having to shut down due to lack of sales, I hope this one can keep going, where people support it and they actually subscribe to it, by which I mean they buy the tickets for this journey.
“It’s ideal for parents who want to travel the world by road, even youngsters, a young married couple or someone who would like to take time out of the aggressive lives that we live.”
Jo Sidhu QC is vice-chair of the Criminal Bar Association.
He said: “I know several judges who drove to India and back in the late 1960s and early 1970s when they were young students. It must have been an extraordinary adventure and opened their eyes to different cultures along the way.
“Although the new bus trip is beyond the budget of most travellers, hats off to Adventures Overland for reviving this trail. It will certainly stimulate British interest in visiting India, and vice versa.”