Amazing tours being conducted by old Sundowners crew
Hello everybody, I am sure there are people out there who would be interested to read that Greg Paul a mechanic and driver for Sundowners is and has been running amazing 4wd tours both tag along and seat in a cruiser style tours to amazing and remote locations in the world.
Greg’s business is Rally Tours NZ and his web site is rallytours.co.nz. The type of person Greg has attracted is retired and wanting to get away from the TV and experience a few more adventures before death. Amazing to me is the fact that so far my punters have mainly come from NZ where people have realised before everybody else that time is limited! Bloody Kiwis were always ahead of everybody else, must get up earlier or something.
So Greg and I worked together in the Sundowners workshop in London backing around 1979, he approached me at one of the reunions and asked if I would assist him running some tours. Grant rang me sometime later and asked me to drive him in the lead 4wd on a tour in July 2017 for two months from Bangkok, Myanmar, Thailand,Laos,China,Mongolia and into the Far East of Russia travelling along the “Road of Bones” to Magadan. As it turned out it required many of the skills gained on the overland to complete the tour, things like two of the Toyota Landcruisers arrived into Bangkok 10 days after the tour departed was over come with local hire, flying back from Myanmar and that most important of overland skills, forgery. Traffic control on top of a Chinese mountain was up there with previous experiences on the road between Jammu and Shrinagar. There were plenty of mechanical issues and navigation challenges but nothing Grant and I could not overcome. Greg did join us with four more Landruisers when we entered Russia then went ahead with the blonde Russian guide to survey the road ahead and we never saw him again. Grant and I kept going with nine cars and no Russian guide which made finding accommodation and food interesting, nearly all Russian buildings look the same and clearly advertising is not permitted so we became quite good at sherades and google translate got a work out. What a tour, the scenery is amazing, hardly any tourists, Greg is doing this tour again in 2020 look out for it, Bangkok (possiby Vietnam) to Magadan. If you have your own 4wd and would like to ship it over we do that or you could hire one of Greg’s 100 series Toyota Landcruisers or possibly buy a seat in a Landcruiser.
Another tour Greg has is the BAM in Siberia, this has the reputation of being the most difficult 4wd adventure on the planet! Go to YouTube and type in BAM Siberia, you will be stunned. BUT cleverly Greg conducts his tour in the winter and this makes everything much easier because nearly all the bridges have fallen over and this is a problem in the summer but we just drove over the frozen rivers and lakes, it sound easy but even after fifty odd crossings I still had my heart in my mouth on the last crossing. The scenery was something to behold, it was cold outside the car, we were supplied with fantastic Russian cold weather clothing and the hotels are overheated if anything. People fall about when we reveal the temperatures we operated in but if you want to see untouched wilderness you have to overcome your fears, commonsense tells you we are not going to let -35C reduce your enjoyment, it is just another overland challenge! When you drive over Lake Biakal some 46 kms wide and one km deep, go for a swim in a hot spring and drive back you will have had an experience VERY few people in the world have had, you do not get this watching TV! These tours are conducted in February/March each year and personally I thought this was one of the best I had been on and I have been to some incredible places.
I am currently with Greg in South America, we drove two Landcruisers from Santiago in Chile to Lima and have conducted a fantastic DAKAR tour, if you have any interest in this event you will be AMAZED at how close we get to the action, standing next to Toby Price and having competitors stop on the stage and talk to you is amazing! See my photo on the pictures site. We were supplying cold water, food, jump starts and general advice so we were part of the action. I will have to complete this later, off for a gondola ride over Salta Argentina, more time later in the day, cheers Simon