Encounter Overland truck in the Sahara with the EMs preparing for lunch
Encounter Overland truck in the Sahara with the EMs preparing for lunch

Encounter Overland Ltd


Encounter Overland’s workshop was located in rural Bedfordshire. The address was Wren Park Hitchin Road Shefford Bedfordshire SG17 5JD. Between trips this is where the trucks were stored, repaired and prepared for the next trip. There was a small permanent staff, headed up by Bill Wallace, managing the workshop and the rest of the workforce was made up of drivers between trips. Whilst looking for Encounter Overland’s Shefford address I found info on Working for an Adventure Travel Company. It states;-

  • What Will the Work Entail?
    • Long hours.
    • Mechanical knowledge required.
    • Low pay but travel formalities are taken care of.
    • Essential to get on with people in claustrophobic conditions.
    • Stamina and endurance a must.

Not a lot has changed since ‘79 then.


The drivers based at the workshop used to stay in a communal house, about a 20 minute drive away in the small town of Hitchin. The house was near the town centre, in Walsworth Road, if I remember correctly. I do remember however, the cold winter nights. My bedroom was at the top of the house with a sloping skylight in the ceiling which would frequently have ice on the inside when I woke in the morning. Heating for the house consisted of a few electric storage heaters. That aside, it was a good to live there with the other drivers. We did a little decoration and maintenance in the short time we stayed between trips. Then other drivers returned and took our places.

This photo is of the Encounter Overland workshop in Hitchin circa 1980, according to the caption of the photo uploaded by David Hunter, one of the other drivers. I found this photo along with a number of others at the Spirit of Encounter web site, now renamed to 

Encounter Overland Archives (1968 to 2001)


Each weekday we would scramble into the company van and drive to the workshop. There we would clean the trucks from the previous trip and repair all manner of things as required. This could include a full engine rebuild with new big ends and piston rings if necessary. On one occasion I was asked to repair part of the exhaust of the KM. This involved welding of thin metal, a particularly difficult task. I heard months later that the repair failed in Turkey. The driver, a capable young lady sorted out the problem and continued on their way to India. She told me off appropriately when we met later. Once repaired of all reported faults the trucks were fully serviced. Servicing was always carried out thoroughly, as it is more difficult to repair a truck in deepest Asia, Africa, or South America than in the UK. Once mechanically sound we re-sprayed the trucks. All of this was done by the drivers in the workshop, based on the farm. Then the preparation began. All the spares for servicing the trucks on the next trip were securely wrapped and waterproofed. The same happened for the more probable spares to repair breakdowns. The mechanics tools and equipment loaded, followed by the spare springs and sand mats.

More photos of the workshop.

EO Wren park start stock 1Two photos of the shopping and stock laid out beside the truck prior to squeezing into all the storage places on the truck. Photos courtesy of Jamie Noble


My truck was nearly ready by now. The tents, camp beds and the rest of the camping equipment was loaded aboard. Then it was time to do some shopping. We drove to Bedford, the county town, to shop in the cash and carry / supermarket. All the provisions necessary for the trip which could not be provided for locally on the trip. It is an interesting experience to buy quite so much in one go. It dwarfs the weekly shop in the local supermarket this week. Fuel and oils, and now all is ready for the trip ahead.

EO Wren park start stock 2









The next morning I jumped into the truck at the workshop with all my kit for the next year away from home. I drove to London, parked up and stayed in the company’s London flat. The next morning it was a short drive to the company’s office at 267 Old Brompton Road, Kensington, London SW5 9JA. I also seem to recall something about 281 but have yet to track down what.

Miscellaneous little finds over time. 

An example of a pre departure booklet, Kathmandu to London, April 1979

I have found a very interesting site called India Overland'Travelling Overland ... the Adventure of a Lifetime.'

Overland to India, Africa, South America what better way to experience the World. The journey was long and not with out its risks, but the adventurous wanted to go, all they needed was an inexpensive option.

'The Overland was born. Using old buses, converted fire trucks and double deckers, companies were springing up everywhere. The options ranged from the deluxe trips run by Rotel Tours (Des Rolling Hotel) based in German and Penn Overland from London, down to Magic Bus from Amsterdam which offered a 4 day 24 hours a day trip to Delhi for as little as $45.'

'The purpose of this site is to reconnect those who undertook this adventure to India, Africa & South America & to make an historical record of expeditions that are hardly possible today.'

'The number of operators that made these journeys is endless, this is just a short list...'

 'Aardvark Expeditions, Anglo Australian Company, Asian Greyhound, Atrek, Capricorn Overland Tours, Budget Bus, CCT, Contiki, Encounter Overland, Exodus Expeditions, Hann Overland, Hughes Overland, Indigo, Inter Trek, Magic Bus, Penn World Overland, Rotel Tours, Safaris Overland, Sherpa Expeditions, Sundowners, Tentrek Expeditions, The Overlanders, Top Deck Travel, Trans African Expeditions, King Kong, Himalayan Tiger, Tangerine Tours, The Silver Express, P.B.K., Crazy Bus, No Sweat Overland Tours & Playmates Camping'

I have written to the site owner to seek permission to display some of his items on Encounter Overland. In the meantime please follow the links. The above extracts from his very interesting site are acknowledged with thanks.

Ad from "Trail Finder" newspaper March 1976 This resolves the address issue, 280 Old Brompton Road, as does the photo below.

EO Scrapbook Office 280

Encounter Overland Brochure


where theres a wheel theres a way 40pc

The brochure page below was extracted from India Overland website with the kind permission of the site owner, Derek Amey. Then I found it again on facebook posted by the original source Peggy Gregory Jenkins. It is fascinating, for me at least, to read the comments which sometimes accompany the photos. Apparently the brochure is from 1971, so the £188 is about one third of the cost of a new Mini and by using Measuring Worth website calculations is equivalent in 2015 to between £2,396.00 and  £5,760.00 dependent upon the metrics used. Still great value.



Encounter 1969 & 1970 TO THE ROOF OF THE WORLD 'The overland journey to Kathmandu and High Himalaya has been described as one of the richest and most rewarding experiences within the reach of the adventurous traveller.'
EO flyer

'I'm Peggy Gregory Jenkins and was a passenger on Encounter Overland trips in 1969 & 1970. Encounter Overland used converted army trucks to travel from London to Kathmandu and was led and owned by Tony Lindsay Jones and Stuart Jenkins. Attached are 3 photos of our trip and an original flyer from Encounter Overland. Hope you can use them on your wonderful web site. Thanks for sending your newsletter. I love it.'
'We (Peggy & Stuart) met in Istanbul in 1967 and married in 1969.---still married.'

Second Photo;- 'Group ready for dinner inside the truck: Andrew, Cathy, Tim, Louise Westwater, David Israel, Ros, Maire Ramsay, Christine and Celia'
Third Photo;- 'Peggy Gregory Jenkins and Stuart Jenkins in Nepal. Everest in background.'
Fourth Photo;- 'Our truck at Wren Park'

Follow the link above to see the photos mentioned.



And now for something completely different. A new project of mine using ESRI ArcGIS Story Maps.

Encounter Overland




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