After teaching in Japan more than ten years ago I decided to travel across Asia, overland to the UK to visit the places that I had studied during my degree which focused on Russian history. My research led me to Sundowners Overland and I spent many hours planning my route back in detail. I had little idea then that my desire to explore regions I had long read and dreamt about would change the course of my life. After that trip my fascination for the region grew and, giving up the world of consultancy, I returned to Sundowners Overland to travel our routes extensively - accompanying our journeys as a Tour Leader, for hands on liaison with current partners and to research and source new routes and local partners. This remains key to my role today and I consider it essential in ensuring that we are delivering the best possible experiences to our clients.
Today I enjoy that our destinations are constantly evolving and changing; there is always another border to open or a region to explore and sharing those experiences with our team and clients remains an important part of what I do today. Listening to the stories that have inspired our clients to travel and, on their return, the anecdotes from the road are what make each and every one of group journeys and independent adventures special and unique. These stories also continue to convince me that through travel to our destinations, and by taking the time to interact and engage with both the people and the environment of our destinations presents an opportunity to experience something new and have a whole lot of fun on the way in some still relatively unknown and unexplored regions.
Sundowners Overland is also constantly evolving as we have created new products to meet the ever changing needs of our clients, be it through our Vodkatrain programme aimed at 18-35 year olds, breaking new ground in the creation of our Premium journeys or through our Experience Tours which provide just the right combination of alternative sightseeing and independent travel on the trains. I feel that we have an option that should cater for everyone be they young or old, with only a couple of weeks to spare or for those who are planning more protracted globetrotting. I am constantly amazed by what draws people to our regions, be it special interest groups, honeymooners or travel enthusiasts; being able to adapt our itineraries to meet all our clients’ needs is what I believe our team do best.more
Virginia joined the team at Sundowners Overland in 2000 when she returned home to Melbourne after 18 months of travelling and working through Europe and UK. She began working as a Travel Advisor and during this time had an opportunity to travel on a number of our journeys. She fell in love with Central Asia and Mongolia.
She particularly admired the scenery, architecture, markets and the people. Virginia believes that the planning of a trip is when the journey really begins and she enjoyed being able to experience the excitement of this with so many of our clients.
Virginia now has 2 beautiful children who keep her pretty busy at home but she still enjoys coming into the office part time to immerse herself in the world of overland travel. more
When I was around 6 my parents took me on a family holiday to Fiji and I was fascinated by the whole process of travelling and the idea of seeing different countries. As I grew up I always watched planes flying overhead and wished I was on them heading off to explore somewhere new so when it came to picking a university course, tourism was an easy choice. I followed that up by working in Europe as a trip leader for a youth tour company, combining work and travel.
Vodkatrain Brand Manager
Kat has travelled on many extraordinary adventures, with her trips ranging from teaching English in Tanzania, bartering in Egyptian markets, sailing down the Ganges in India and zip-lining the snow tipped treetops in British Columbia.With constant wanderlust and a thirst for culture when she is not talking about her love of travel or jetting off on the next big trip, Kat is armchair traveling planning where to next
Business Development Manager NZ
After 7 years, teaching became very "ground hog day" so I retrained as a commercial artist and ran away on a Sundowners Overland tour of Nepal, India and Pakistan to visit England and change my career.
Instead of becoming a willow worker and artist as intended, I found myself back in Australia working for a travel wholesaler promoting and selling dive trips to the Great Barrier Reef.
I changed companies a number of times but have remained in the travel industry in a variety of positions including sales and marketing for a 350 seat cabaret restaurant, retail travel agent, travel industry curriculum writer, regional information centre manager, promoting Fiji from 1996 to 2002, and wholesaling random Asia places and experiences.more
Agency Sales and Development Manager
After trying to balance a real life with a travel life for some time, Stuart eventually relented and set his sights on discovering how to travel full time. His quest saw him installed as a Sundowners Overland Tour Leader escorting groups of adventurous travellers across China, Mongolia and Russia. During his time on the road, Stuart was lucky enough to experience the wild cultural festivities of Mongolia’s ancient Nadaam, went close to expiration in a traditional Siberian Banya and ate his body weight in late-night dumplings in Beijing.
Prior to joining Sundowners Overland, Stuart spent time working in remote communities in Vanuatu and Central Australia, backpacked around South East Asia, played orchestral Trumpet in China, rode a push-bike across southern Australia and drove a beaten-up old Toyota through Eastern Africa.
Oddly enough, I was never interested in a career in travel, let alone interested in travelling, until two years ago.
I had spent 5 years at university completing a Zoology degree and I thought I knew exactly where my career was heading.
One day I packed a backpack and up and left on an adventure to South East Asia. My two week trip turned into three and half months. I only returned home because I had run out of money.
After saving up more money, I set off again. This time it was 4 months which included the Vodkatrain’s “Ruski Huski” from Beijing to Moscow.
I returned home with a crazy obsession for travel. I had spent every cent I had (and more) on exploring the world and I knew I would continue to seek out new cultural experiences, add more stamps to my passport, talk about travel to anyone who would listen and forever dream and plan future trips. So why not make it my career and help others find the same happiness!
Simon has always enjoyed travelling to remote and challenging destinations and the personal challenges that overland travel presents. He believes that Sundowners Overland is an ideal company to encounter these travel experiences with.
Simon joined Sundowners Overland following 10 years of leading a nomadic lifestyle that included hitch hiking across Africa, working in Nigeria, crewing on a boat in the Mediterranean, picking grapes, gathering walnuts and managing a campsite in France before joining Encounter Overland as an expedition Leader/Driver in Africa and Asia.
It suits Simon’s adventurous nature to be involved in creating and bringing to life unique and adventurous journeys that allow travellers to step beyond their travel ‘comfort zone’ to experience new and exciting destinations.
Ground Operations Manager
Grainge claims to have had ‘itchy’ feet since he was born and could not wait to get out and see the world! When school finished, he felt it was the perfect time to take off and work in North America, this was where he caught the travel bug and has been hooked on exploring the world ever since!
Grainge has travelled to many destinations, working on the ski fields of Canada, leading groups around Australia and Europe and backpacking through South East Asia all of which gave him truly memorable experiences. Grainge insists that having the desire to experience new things and a sporting a relaxed attitude towards travel is they key, “When I am travelling I make a conscious effort to embrace different cultures and get to know the locals in ways that I will always remember.”
As an experienced Tour Leader and Travel Advisor, Grainge believes that the Trans Mongolian and Trans Siberian Railway is the next frontier for people who have travelled before and are looking for a fantastic region full of positive challenge, adventure and fun.
Finance and Administration Support
Christine was graduated from her Commerce degree a few years ago and has been working in the accounting and finance filed since then before she joined Sundowners. Her passion for travelling is just as much as for “numbers” and “figures”.
Business Development Manager UK/Europe
Travel has been a huge part of Robin's life, especially in recent years since deciding to take her career into the industry. After spending some time as a Travel Agent, helping people plan their dream journeys, Robin has come on board the Sundowners Overland team come on board the Sundowners Overland team as a Business Development Manager. She is looking forward to sharing her knowledge with Travel Agents around Europe and the UK.
I was born in a small town called Khuder in the north east of Mongolia, close to Russia. My home was so close to the border that I vividly remember talking to Russian friends across the massive river, without ever being able to cross it to actually meet them.
My understanding of the outside world was developed by only two television channels, one of which was ORBIT 1, a Russian TV channel with English sitcoms and American Hollywood movies translated into Mongolian. Those two channels opened up my curiosity of other countries, peoples and cultures.
Wanting to improve my understanding of other cultures and practice my English, I moved to Australia in 2010. I now live and work in Melbourne. I really enjoy working in travel and tourism industry and I have been working in the field for over 8 years in Mongolia and Australia.more
Finance and Administration Support
Jenny had worked in a CPA accounting firm before joining Sundowners. Her travel bug started from her exchange experience to America in 2011. She travelled by herself extensively in New York and Boston before joining other members from the group. Since America she is fascinated with different cultures, landscapes, markets, customs, people, food and languages. She feels very grateful and lucky enough to work in this travel industry which combines her skills in finance and travel.