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This is a review of my trip with Madventure (UKtoOZ)

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This is a review of my trip with Madventure (UKtoOZ)

I could find anywhere to post this review, so I have had to post it here

(if TA could advise me where to post it, it would be appreciated)

This is a review of my 28 week trip to Australia with UktoOZ (Madventure)

It was a 28 week adventure going across Europe, Asia and ending up in Sydney, Australia

I will try and be as informative and as unbiased as possible

We were greeted by the owners, the driver and the expedition leader at Hammersmith

Our bags, tents were put on the bus/truck, last minute forms signed, payments made, travel insurance/passports checked

We left Hammersmith at 6am; we set off for Dover, where we took the ferry to Calais

On the way to Dover, our expedition leader informed us she was just a leader and not a guide, she had no idea or knowledge about the places we would be going to or visiting, all information regarding food, accommodation would be supplied to her via email from the UktoOZ office

We were told that it would be expected to assist the driver with map reading, truck break downs, as he was just a driver, these weren’t part of his job remit

We were told that if we were ever stopped in Europe by any authorities, we were to say we were just a group travelling together, the bus (more on the ‘bus/truck’ later) was unwritten, no information on who the company was, and travel through Europe was ‘free’

We were shown where the ‘safe’ was and 2 people assigned the keys for it

I don’t know if we were insured during our travel across Europe, but we all had travel insurance for the 28 weeks were would be travelling

We were told this was a ‘budget’ trip

We were organised into cook groups and fire making groups, bus/truck cleaning groups

We had gas on board, but most fires would be with wood (no wood was purchased on the trip)

We would be camping in Europe and in other countries, with hostels where camping was not possible

Most of the camp sites we used were on rubbish tips, very few camp grounds

We were fed on a $1 a day, (2 meals a day, we had to provide our own lunch) our leader did the shopping with the cook group, we always got the cheapest food available, usually from a market, but in Europe, and super stores were used (Tesco, Carrefour) there was dried food, condiments already on the bus/truck

Breakfast consisted of toast, muesli, maybe porridge, tea/coffee/water; our evening meal was generally pasta, rice, vegetables, potatoes, whatever was bought by the cook group, any fruit was bought by the individual for their own consumption

The bus/truck was on a extended cement mixer chassis with a box on the top to accommodate passengers, the bus/truck was capable of carrying 40 passengers, there were 20 on our trip of various ages, occupations, the seats all faced forward, like a bus, there were curtains on the front windows, there were charging stations for laptops, iPods, phones, cameras, kindles

There was no heating, AC in the bus/truck

There were various books, travel guides provided; some people ‘donated’ other books, guides

There was storage beneath the cab for ruck sacks, tents, sleeping bags, tents, cooking gear, dry food, there were eskies provided for fresh food bought along the way, there was no fridge, ice was bought along the way (not by the company though, passengers were expected to buy this)day bags were kept with the individual

There was a ‘local’ payment to be used for food, accommodation, public transport, extras, the accounts for expenditure was never seen or discussed

When we made a lunch stop, they always seemed to be in places that were either ‘fast food’ or next to an open sewer (mainly in India/Pakistan) the chances of getting good food was very minimal

If anyone left the trip no refunds would be given, any local payment wouldn’t be used to improve the remaining members of the group

We were responsible for getting our own visas, but our guide would provide any information required and get them if required, with our payment, passport and photos

If there was any disruption on the trip and we weren’t able to get into a country, we would be responsible for booking our own flights/accommodation (Iran, Pakistan, Tibet, China) we would be sent an email by the tour leader when to book flights

Any other trips (parks, volunteering, activities, paragliding, museums, sights) we did we would pay for them ourselves, if we left the trip to do anything or our application for a visa wasn’t granted we had to sign a waiver form absolving them of any responsibilities to us

The Chinese closed the border to Tibet, so we lost the bus/truck/driver in Kathmandu, all onward travel would be on public transport, paid for by the ‘local’ payment, we would be using buses, trains, sleeper buses, sleeper trains, taxis, tuk tuks, walking and aircraft (the flights weren’t paid for by the company though)

This seriously affected the group, they would only have what they could carry, and tents, sleeping bags, extra clothes, and gifts were sent home from Kathmandu there would be no more camping, all accommodation would be in hostels, and they would be the cheapest/most basic available (regardless of the condition, cleanliness,) no food was provided while in hostels

Some people sent their tents, sleeping bags, mattress home or onwards to Darwin, this was extra costs some couldn’t afford

There were several people that fell ill on the trip in India, Pakistan; they went down with dehydration, heat exhaustion, sickness and vomiting, diarrhoea, some had to visit hospital, a couple decided they couldn’t continue with the trip and went home, they got no help/advice/sympathy from the leader/driver/company (this would continue throughout the trip with anyone who left the trip or was ill,) we had to rely on the rest of the group for help, getting medicine’s, food, water, hydration packs, bag carrying, getting them to our transport, this wasn’t our leaders job (I did help quite a few people on our trip, I never suffered from any illness)

Some couldn’t get a Pakistan visa and had to get a flight to India, where we would meet up, (their flight and accommodation/food would be at their own cost) at a point designated by our leader

We were sent a ‘feedback’ form in Kathmandu; several people told them about the conduct of our driver, leader, (which wasn’t very professional,) the accommodations we used, the food (several people lost a lot of weight during this trip, in excess of 10kilos) which was quite appalling in the majority of cases, the diet was mainly rice, pasta dishes, the vegetarians got very little protein in their diet (ours wasn’t much better)

We had armed guards during our travel through Pakistan, the guards were changed every few days (they would have been no use what so ever, their weapons were filthy, the guards were old men)

We had a government guide in Iran; we had to check in at police stations along the way

The hostels we used along the way, some were very good, some were rat/bug infested hovels, most were dirty, some had showers, hot and cold water, a European WC, some a hole, some just had a cold water outlet for a shower, and some had A/C, some just a fan we could upgrade to a better room (a room with A/C, a shower with hot/cold water, beds with sheets, pillows), but that would be at our own cost

There were quite a few dormitories in the hostels we used, mixed dormitories were the cheapest and used quite often

There were rats, bed bugs, mosquitoes, various biting insects in most Indian, Pakistan, Asian hostels, mosquito nets were bought, or insect repellant, most were filthy, the beds were just mattresses on the floor in most cases, mixed dormitories were used a lot, regardless of age, sex, religion

The ferry we used from Singapore to Indonesia was ridden with cock roaches, rats and bed bugs, flies, mosquitoes, but there was an opportunity to ‘upgrade’ to a shared cabin, we were assigned to 3rd class beds

The sleeper trains/buses we used would be at night, there would be a saving on accommodation this way,

Our leader would assign rooms, give out keys, then leave us to pursue her own activities, she would leave a note at reception about our onward travel, time to meet, we would get an email about our next countries itinerary (this would come from the office in the UK)

We were told that we could book our flights to Darwin, but at the time we were told, the airfares had trebled, the information was available in China, but not sent to us, as she had not got word from the company

This caused quite a bit of hardship/disappointment among some on the trip, they couldn’t afford the onward travel to Australia so had to go home or other destinations, of the 24 that started the trip, 12 made it all the way to Sydney

We arrived in Darwin, Australia, by our driver (who had left us in Kathmandu) he would now be responsible for food shopping, arranging park tickets, but we never had our bus/truck, they had hired a 15 seater bus with a trailer which held all our bags, cooking equipment, food, eskies, again no ice was bought by the company, but the quality of the food improved, but still only 2 meals a day, we never spent long going across Australia

We did the journey in 12 days, with a lot of time spent looking out of the window, when we did stop anywhere it would be for a few hours only and usually was just food shopping, with very little time to look around, and other tour companies take 22 days

The bush camps was a lot better, they may not have been on camp sites, but were fine and not on rubbish tips, only drawback was there were no showers, washing facilities for the 12 days travel across Australia

We arrived in Sydney and unloaded the mini bus, trailer and everyone departed to their own destinations or continue travelling onward, there was no welcome email or well done from the company, in fact I haven’t heard from them since the feedback form was sent in Kathmandu


Now this is just on a personal note

I was told this was a budget trip, no frills, this I can accept,

I did expect to be fed good, healthy, nutritious, tasty food (as they stated on their website)

But the conduct of our leader, driver and the company wasn’t very professional, by their dress or attitude, the leader started an affair with a passenger in Istanbul, she lied about the ‘local payment’ expenditure, she told us she never discussed the itinerary with anyone, but was caught many times discussing it with her boyfriend/passenger, she was never interested in the welfare of the passengers, I don’t know if she was sacked or left the company in Bali, but when she started her affair, the trip went from bad to worse, but she left in Bali when we flew off to Darwin

Her daughter/ boyfriend joined us in Thailand, again no one knows if she paid for any of the services provided by the company or local payment, but she stayed at the same hostels, used the same method of transport

Her (our leader) attitude did change nearer to the end of the trip, she was expecting a tip from everyone on the trip (this was explained in the notes on the UktoOZ website, a $1 a day was expected, a tip is given when someone does a bit extra, goes the extra mile, or just shows an interest, she did none of them,) she never got a tip from anyone

The driver was just that, he had no idea about truck maintenance, he always needed help with changing punctures, blow outs, only ever bought second hand tyres, (without knowing the history of them,) he dressed in clothes that weren’t fit for a dustbin, he never joined in a cook group, truck clean, he bought his girl friend along on the trip, no one knows if she paid for the trip (the driver was expecting a tip at the end of the trip as well, but he told our guide and guards in Iran and Pakistan, he didn’t give tips to people doing their job, he never got a tip either at the end of the trip)

The attitude of the company and owners was quite appalling, both with their response to questions and replies to the feedback, their attitude was ‘we have your money, now get on with it’ all hostels were cheap (okay even that I can accept) but they should be clean and provide basic accommodation, not a mattress on the floor and a room for 2 being used by 4 to keep costs down

Mixed hostels should never be used

All the accommodation we stayed at was at the cheapest end of the market, any travel arrangements was the cheapest available

The owners of the company started another trip, so information coming from them was slow or late (our guide wouldn’t/couldn’t do anything without their say so)

The information from the company was minimal with regard to health, countries visited, security

They rewrote the terms and conditions halfway through our trip, (print them off BEFORE you go) to reflect some of the peoples taking them to court under EU law

The bus/truck was very uncomfortable to travel in the layout not very good for conversation, making friends or even just sleeping, there were hours spent just looking out of the window, the itinerary was cast in stone, it would never changed or altered, we arrived in Darwin on the specified date and time

We spent just a few hours in some really interesting places, but days in places that were either miles from anywhere or just had nothing there, we had a 2 week stopover in Kathmandu, but it increased everyone’s expenditure, we had to pay for our own food and accommodation for the whole time, I thought it was a waste of time

There was no welcome back email or feedback form from them, which I found very disappointing, as most companies get more travellers by improving their trips or complimentary reviews, I couldn’t give this company a good review, and I would never use their services again, even though they are the only company that goes all the way to Australia

Once you have handed over your money that is about it they have a complete disregard of duty of care, health, security

Before you book with them, be very, very sure you know what you are getting into, what the companies responsibilities are, what yours are, who pays for what, because after a payment is made;

There will be no refunds for any reason

The trip just gives a snap shot of places, countries you visit, you don’t see the best of each country, you see the worst, poorer parts, you have no choice in places you visit, stay in, trips they have,

I would say do the trip (at your own risk) and revisit the countries you like, enjoyed, but at your own speed, and leisure, and better accommodations, transport, cheap is good, but you don’t have to stay in a rat, bug, insect, mosquito infested rat hole that is called a hostel

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1. Re: This is a review of my trip with Madventure (UKtoOZ)

Wow, This is very informative and a very detailed article as you know this Trip Report will be taken as an Article, Thank you Trip Traveller for sharing such a great Trip report, i Think that your report covers many location thus there is no specific forum to be posted in.

By the way; Thank you so much for taking time to post such a detailed trip report.

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2. Re: This is a review of my trip with Madventure (UKtoOZ)

This is hopefully informative and usefull for anyone contemplating travelling with this company

I hope you found it of some help

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3. Re: This is a review of my trip with Madventure (UKtoOZ)

I came across this review accidentally today and I am happy that finally somebody wrote about this specific Company. I had been following this trip through the entries of my friend from the very first day till the end of the trip and I was indeed curious to read the review above. I have to admit that “trip-traveller99” describes well what it took place throughout the journey and I hope more people will comment on this post, write down perhaps their own review about this or another Company.

I am really curious how these Companies still exist and how they find people joining them! I expected that the group who hanged tough all these hardships would sue them upon arrival but I guess there are many who have to be urged to do so.

I urge people who have such experiences write them down because their feedback is precious and helps other people to avoid falling in similar traps. I don’t feel like adding anything else on this because the above person gave an analytic state of what the situation was like.

What I expect to see is more feedback coming in…..

Toronto, Canada
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4. Re: This is a review of my trip with Madventure (UKtoOZ)

trip-traveller...........................what an adventure!....thanks for the detailed report...........

Launceston, Tasmania
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5. Re: This is a review of my trip with Madventure (UKtoOZ)

Thank you for taking the time to explain the problems with your trip. I'm sure you'll help many people avoid this company.

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6. Re: This is a review of my trip with Madventure (UKtoOZ)

I wouldnt tell anyone to avoid them, its just my personal opinion

I would tell them to go prepared, have spare cash availible for the upsets, upgrades in hostels, flights, inteminable boredom and very long drives in the bus

They are the only company that does go all the way to Australia, so the choice is very limited

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7. Re: This is a review of my trip with Madventure (UKtoOZ)

Hi, Quite an amazing insight into this particular trip. I have been a tour operator for 43 years but closed down all my companies after my UK staff members committed an act of treachery, embezzled passengers monies and started a new company running long distance overland tours that today are no longer financially viable and will ultimateltly destroy innocent peoples plans for safe, reliable and value for money tours. The UK Authorities HAVE NOT AND WILL NOT prevent fraud and monitor poor operators, NONE OF THE REGULATIONS THAT ARE IN PLACE SUPPOSEDLY TO PROTECT PEOPLE ARE EVER ENFORCED presumably because of complacency, incompetance, contempt for the travelling public and complete disregard for doing their job and

enforcing the laws of the land. Close the loopholes that allow rogue traders to get away with breaking thev law or de-regulate laws that are never enforced.

The Directors of Uktooz/Madventure really need to look very closely at these postings because the negativity expressed can only destroy whatever goodwill

or trust that travellers have in their company. It is indeed a wake up call to LIFT YOUR GAME and SAVE your company because your business can only suffer if you choose to ignore this timely and sensible advice.

There were about 30 companies doing London to Kathmandu in 10 weeks which was the longest trip going way back in the 1970,s. They have all basically gone now because travel patterns have changed. The trouble with these epic overland types of trips from 80-180 days and more is that the lead time between booking and actually travelling is about 12 months and peoples circumstances definitely change over such a long time frame, You can get sick and be unable to travel, lose your job and need the money, have personal and family issues to deal with, Change your mind. Modt of these trips offer ONE DEPARTURE DATE so any change tto numbers at the last minute will change a profit into a loss with the operator forced to cancel .....twelve months marketing wasted. People are better off doing 3 or 4 shorter trips throughout the year for far less cost and you will see and enjoy more of each area rather than multiple one night stands. Finally,the longest tour we did in Australia was 37 days and they are no longer popular. Anything over 14 days people generally start to get on one anothers nerves and the "joy" of the holiday turns to ..I wish this would end I want to go back home.

I now operate NOT FOR PROFIT TRAVEL CLUBS running day tours,, weekenders and short extended tours.


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8. Re: This is a review of my trip with Madventure (UKtoOZ)

That is a quite interesting reply, I never knew that there were regulations covering these companies,

I dont think anyone knows about these regulations, the companies arent going to tell you about them

There just isnt anywhere you can read or write a review about them, not even get any information, they dont like people doing blogs about them, they prefer if blogs are written on their websites, they have full control about anything written then

I tried to get a website on the go just for these overland companies, not just here in the UK, but worldwide, but I dont have the skills to set up such a website, I think it would be a great help to anyone that considers or has done an overland trip with ANY company, it would also be good to let people know what their rights are (I wouldnt even know where to find them, even now)

Your reply was really welcome DarylJ

If you know any other websites I could [post this review, it would be appreciated

I am not telling anyone NOT to do this trip (or the trip through the 'Stans in a short while) but to do the trip, but be prepared for the unexpected or planned disappointments and extra expenditure

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9. Re: This is a review of my trip with Madventure (UKtoOZ)

Trip,Advisor is probably the best forum for unbiased comment and most of the others are tied in to advertising travel products and most dont want legal action so thats why ALL POSTS are moderated and removed even here if you tread on toes or upset the revenue stream.

Back to laws and regulations.....Nearly every business practice these days is regulated some might say over-regulated. You cannot just call yourself a doctor, lawyer, accountant, electrician, plumber and so on.

If you sell travel and travel products over a certain amount for profit you are by definition in most countries a TRAVEL AGENT and require a TRAVEL AGENTS LICENCE usually domestic or local travel and International. Most countries require a BOND that can be called upon if you go bust to help pay those who lost money. If you sell AIR TOURS the cheap Ibiza, Morocco, Costa del Sol Packages you need an AIR TOUR OPERATORS LICENCE( ATOL)

If you sell PACKAGE TOURS and a package tour is ANY combination of two or more elements in UK,EUROPE of transport, accommodation, meals, sightseeing with local operators, visits to attractions. You must comply with the Package Tour Operators regulations and be licenced accordingly.



The problem is that EVERY LAW can and regularly is BROKEN , TWISTED

or BENT to suit operators who choose to do so NOT AT THEIR PERIL because NONE ever get prosecuted because NOBODY IS INTERESTED IN

ENFORCING THESE LAWS AND RULES......If they did the people that operate outside the rules and laws WOULD BE STOPPED BEFORE ITS TOO LATE.

I could name dozens that the authorities supposed to be protecting the travelling public have been warned about and have DONE NOTHING because of incompetance, complacency or just complete indifference including the MET

onlly to see them fall over one by one leaving a trail of debris in their wake.

Until, the people who are paid to protect the travelling public start to do their job

and enforce their laws or abandon them then its CAVEAT EMPTOR....


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10. Re: This is a review of my trip with Madventure (UKtoOZ)

There we have it people, read my review, read Daryls comments, after that, its in your hands who and when you travel, be it airline, coach travl, overland truck

BUt the only thing I can add is ask questions before you part with any money

Get answers to your questions