Sometimes I come across photos on Flickr that I just can't help but write about. These photographs, posted by Flickr user rorymac, were taken by traveler/photographer Daniel Smaller whilst traversing the Asia Overland Hippie Trail in 1977. The Hippie Trail, popular in the late Sixties and Seventies, was an overland route from Europe to Kathmandu which passed through Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nepal. The goal was to travel as cheaply as possible, often taking anywhere from a few months to a half a year to do so. Some even chose to settle in India and Nepal, living on a low budget for a matter of years. Travel was often by private (albeit run-down) private buses, hitchhiking, and trains.
Erik Pontoppidan has a great article about this overland route posted here. The sights and sounds encountered along this trail seem virtually unmatchable. Travelers, who at that time faced very little need for security, were presented with cultures that were still fairly unknown to the outside world. They found themselves traversing large expanses of desert, steep mountain passes, and snow covered hills. It was the golden age of backpack traveling, and helped to launch the movement so beloved by young folk today. This joy would be short lived, however, as American and Soviet fueled political tension in the Middle East quickly made the trail dangerous to navigate. Once peaceful and geographically gorgeous countries were turned into war zones overnight, and travel in the region all but disappeared. Though some pioneered routes that avoided areas of conflict, the trail would never quite be the same.
Though it was a hub for the adventuresome and new-age crowd, some operators did try to commercialize the trail in the mid-1970s. The most recent company to revitalize the trail is Ozbus, which navigates the route across 20 countries from London to Sydney in 13 weeks for a mere £3850. Though the service looks incredible, part of me would still rather do it the traditional way. Granted, I highly doubt I'll one day even get the opportunity to navigate this historic route. Regardless, I can still add it to my list.