EDIT March 2015: please refer to the latest blog post about agencies helping overlanders cross through China unguided, after reading this!
After our unforgettable and blissfully unguided self-drive traverse of China (and countless requests for more details from fellow travellers) it is now time to finally introduce you to the man who made it all possible. A man willing to go to much effort in order to help fellow adventurers. 😀
Meet Ricard Tomas Herrero. A Spanish businessman who has been living and working in and out of China for over 20 years.
China Tierra de Aventura is his baby, sort to speak, his pet project. It is not hugely known nor is it widely publicized, which is why it took me over a year to discover it even existed. It seemed that this tour company was very much an insider’s secret…one we were elated to uncover!
While Ricard has been running phenomenal motorbike trips from Madrid to Beijing every year for over a decade, this is the first time he has organised a fully independent crossing of China for overland bikers. And he’s willing to do more!
Ricard has a fantastic team of fixers spread out all over China, people ready to help and support you through the logistical issues you are bound to come across as you ride through the country. They are all just a phone call away but otherwise, you are free to ride as you wish, within certain boundaries of course. Tibet, for example, still requires a guide to be with you 24 hours a day.
Want to be among the first to ride through China on your own? Here’s your chance!
It’s important to note, however, that it still ain’t gonna be a walk in the park. It will take lots of preparation time, a substantial amount of money (still only a mere fraction of a guided tour) and much resourcefulness on the part of whoever tackles it. Support may be there, but never right next to you to translate, negotiate, argue and organize. You must still be able to tackle all that on your own. We were joined by Michael Stumman Nielsen (a motorbiking friend of ours from Denmark) and three proved to be an ideal number. As with all overlanding travel destinations, China can be quite intense, so it’s ideal to have two co-travellers to share the load and stress!
Not for the novice overlander I’d say, but if you have a few experiences up your sleeve, and don’t mind a wee challenge, then a fully independent China crossing promises to deliver a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Ricard will organize all the documentation you will need. This will take a minimum of 3 months to organize. Your entry must still be guided by a local agent, who will escort you up to the first major city, where you will get a Chinese driver’s licence and vehicle number plate. You will be sent on your merry lonesome way, soon thereafter. You can have your hand held, figuratively speaking, as much or as little as you wish, depending on how confident you feel. As an example: we had ‘fixers’ escort us through the first two major cities and after that, once we realized that with a GPS and some pre-planning we could go it alone, and requested no more escorts. It worked a treat.
We may have been the very first foreign overlanders to have crossed through China legally, and independently, with our own foreign-registered vehicle. We appreciate how special this experience is and how it has the potential of revolutionizing the well-trodden overlanding route from Europe to South East Asia. No more shipments from India or Russia and no more cargo flights from Kathmandu to Bangkok. Not only is this option now a reality, but it is within the reach or even the most budget-conscious traveller.
As a token of our appreciation towards Ricard and his team, all we want to do now, is to pay it forward to fellow travellers.
Should you have any questions, before contacting Ricard for a quote, do not hesitate to contact me either though this site’s contact page or my Globetrotter Guidebook’s FB page. If you prefer to write in German, please contact Chris on Hinter Dem Horizont Links.
We will be more than happy to guide you through the preparations, just as Ricard was happy to guide us through the entire process.
Happy travels through China!
Laura & Chris x
PS. Welcome newcomers! 😀 For all who are new to my site, here is a link to my first China-crossing blog, where I detail HOW we managed to convince Ricard that a self-drive, guide-less tour would be perfectly legal. Click here for more!
PSS. Edited 10th November 2014. Please do note that I share Ricard’s email address on the last China blog. PLEASE READ the next post and the one after so you are well aware of ALL that concerns crossing China without a guide. Cheers!