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Gathering at the edges of vast deserts or at the feet of great mountain passes, 
travellers down the centuries would often band together into caravans 
for companionship, security or sometimes just adventure

The Oriental Caravan continues this tradition into the 21st century, as a means  
by which travellers of today can come together in small groups to discover for themselves
 the mysteries of the East on journeys that take them to the heart of the Orient, and reveal its soul...



The Oriental Caravan  

is a truly independent travel organisation, founded in 2000 by tour leader, linguist and lifelong Orientalist
Phil Colley, on the basis of his twenty years experience of North, East and Central Asia. The Oriental Caravan’s passionate approach to small group exploration ensures that ‘caravaneers’ don’t just visit a country but really experience it – in style and a fair amount of comfort.


The Oriental Caravan's founder
 Phil Colley

To do this The Oriental Caravan utilises an extensive network of local contacts ‘on the ground’ – the descendents of the pilgrims, poets, merchants and explorers in whose footsteps and wheel ruts we follow!  This working partnership underpins our ‘being in the right place at the right time’ approach to travel – it is the experience of our crew, guides and drivers that defines The Oriental Caravan experience.

To see an article in Responsible Travel's r:travel magazine about The Oriental Caravan's story
please click here...

For details on Phil's appearance in 'Hitler, Stalin and Mr Jones'... click here!

For more information about our trips to Japan… click here!


LIFE ABOARD The Caravan...

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Since the wheels first started turning in Summer 2000,  The Oriental Caravan has become its own unique kind  of ‘travel club for the culturally inquisitive’, bringing together old friends and independently minded singles, honeymooners and retired couples. 

Today, on many of our departures, 60-70% of the group have travelled on The Oriental Caravan before and/or have been recommended by veteran Caravaneers, who typically are continuing ‘journeys’ with Phil that go back many years. 

There’s no big advertising campaigns or ambitious marketing strategy. We just let people tell other people what they have been up to, and so, in terms of much of our programme, quite literally let the Caravaneers decide the direction The Oriental Caravan goes in.


Unlike many of the trips found in the brochures of mainstream tour companies our journeys are never bought ’off the shelf’. All our itineraries continue to be researched and developed right up until we release dossiers and prices just 6-12 months before departure, ensuring that we stay in touch with developments  in-country, and are able to include what is new and/or recently discovered. 

The fact that we are fine-tuning our journeys at the same time as you are planning yours also means that we are able to ‘tailor-make’ the day-to-day detail of each Caravan according to ongoing feedback from those who already travel with us, as well as in response to special requests from would-be Caravaneers. Many of these little extras never make it into print but make it into our itineraries (as revealed by a telling image and quick caption in the post-journey postcards that we post on this web-site!).

Client Comments





The Journeys…


The Oriental Caravan’s journeys of a lifetime are ‘land only’, and as such exclude international flights to/from the start and end point of the published itinerary. This allows Caravaneers – who originate from many different parts of the UK and Europe, as well as various other cities worldwide – to book the type of plane ticket that suits them best (including their own particular choice of stopovers), using and/or earning frequent flyer points with their preferred airline. 

For some departures there is the possibility – for those departing from London – of joining the ‘group flight’. This is where Caravaneers are able to take advantage of a seat allocation with a particular airline, by booking through TOC’s recommended flight agent in the UK. 

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‘Group flyers’ have the added bonus of their group leader ‘door-to-door’, in that they are met 
at a London airport the day before the official ‘group rendezvous’ and accompanied back to 
the UK (London) after their TOC journey has officially ended – all at no extra cost.


‘The Caravan’ may in fact be a bullet train or a tram, a jeep or even a camel... sometimes 4-wheel drive, sometimes four hooves! In order to gain a more in-depth and personal experience of life in our host country we also use – as and when appropriate – public buses, private mini-buses, taxis, landcruisers, cable-cars, horses, ferries, boats, and even a submarine, and when there is something to see ‘off-road’ we explore by foot.

Destinations and Departures

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Whether it be the centrally-located (3-4 star equivalent) tourist hotels in major urban centres, or the more characterful, traditional guesthouses and temple lodgings in rural towns and outlying villages, Caravaneers invariably start and end each day somewhere that is clean and comfortable, where basic needs are well taken care of – even when camping. Single supplements are not compulsory on any of our trips but are available for those who wish to be guaranteed a single room. Otherwise we will arrange for anyone travelling solo to share with another member of the group (of the same sex) at no extra cost. In the event of there being no suitable ‘second person’, The Oriental Caravan will cover the additional costs of a single room.


For many aboard The Oriental Caravan getting  a real ‘taste’ of the country means sampling the local cuisine – in many places this includes gastronomic delights for both vegetarians and piscivores. While we are  on the road meals are often not included,  allowing Caravaneers the choice of eating  at a variety of restaurants according to their particular tastes and budgets, knowing that the group leader and/or local guides will generally be on hand to offer their suggestions and translate the menu.












All client payments are deposited in an independently monitored trust fund, namely The Oriental Caravan Trust Account. A firm of UK solicitors, acting as independent trustees and sole signatory, will only sign over money to The Oriental Caravan once the tour has taken place, thereby guaranteeing that, in the unlikely event of The Oriental Caravan’s insolvency, your money remains fully protected 
in compliance with EC consumer legislation, The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992.  




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To receive details of slide shows, e-Postcards and The Oriental Caravan's newsletter click here.

To make a booking or for further information please call

The Oriental Caravan
+44 (020) 7582 0716

or email



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Life's caravan is hastening on its way;
Brood not on troubles of the coming day,
But fill the wine-cup ere sweet night be gone,
And snatch a pleasant moment, while you may.

                                                                                                      verse from the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam


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          Copyright © 2013. The Oriental Caravan. All rights reserved.                              
             Revised and last updated: November 20th 2013. Links