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Our history…

Our history…

Making adventurers for 50 years. 1974 to 2024 and counting… 

2024 marks the 50 year anniversary for Exodus, which makes us the UK’s longest running adventure travel company – and globally, only a handful of others pre-date us! We’re very proud of our enduring success – and to have been instrumental in the founding and development of the global Adventure Travel industry. 

Founders Story 

John Gillies a Philosophy graduate and David Burlinson an Engineer found themselves part of the nascent overland travel community. When the companies they were working for were threatened with closure in 1973 they agreed to start their own overland travel business. Exodus Expeditions was founded on 4 Feb 1974, based out of an office on Earls Court Road, and their first commercial trip took place that summer. John and David planned and operated an expedition through the rugged hinterland of central Afghanistan, travelling to the remote and fabled Minaret of Jam. 

1975 saw their first trans-continental departure, a London to Kathmandu 10 week journey, using the now iconic Bedford truck. Thanks to contacts with travel agents in Australia and New Zealand they were able to sell the return west-bound leg of the Trans-Asia journeys, and they started to turn a profit. Expansion of overland into Africa and South America followed, plus a series of short-duration air-based trekking and safari trips in the Himalayas and Africa. 

The World Over Overland travel. The 1970s, 80s and 90s.

Overland travel was based around multi-week camping journeys, using converted army personnel trucks, with only rough schedules and limited budgets. They benefited from the open-borders of the 70s and 80s, now unfortunately, most of the trans-continental routes are no longer possible – but what a journey it was!

  • Asia and the India Hippie trail: London to Kathmandu formed the backbone of overland travel, but we went further. Exodus were the first overland company to get a truck into China – over the 4,700 meter Khunjerab pass! The team carried on through Tibet to see Lhasa and Everest from the north side. Exodus also offered the longest commercial overland journey – London to Bali – a 39 week epic through India, China, Thailand and Singapore.

  •  South America Circuits: Offered a stunning range landscapes – and temperatures. The tropical Amazon, the Caribbean beaches of Colombia, the heights of the Altiplano, the cold depths of Patagonia, usually ending in Rio for a February Carnival.

  •   Trans-Africa to Nairobi or Cape Town: A true travel challenge. Crossing the trackless Sahara through Algeria (Tamanrasset and the Hogar Mountains anyone?) to distant Timbuktu and beyond. Then the deep mud and jungle of the Congo before reaching the grasslands of east and southern Africa.

Pioneering, Diverse and Active!

Our quest for new destinations and new styles of trip took us through some of the remotest corners of the world as well as to the adventure travel classics, and the programmes we developed still thrive to this day.  

  • The great walks and treks of the world. We have pioneered and followed – from the Himalayas to Patagonia, and the Atlas Mountains to the former Soviet Republics of Central Asia.

  • Cycling adventures pioneers. In 1994 we introduced travel on 2 wheels, and are now leaders in cycling holidays with over 50 different trips around the world.

  • Discovery & Wildlife. Travelling in small groups helped us explore the world’s cultures and nature sensitively and carefully – from the mountains of Yemen to Mongolia and Madagascar.

  •  Winter and Family Adventures. The introduction of new specialist programmes in the 2000’s kept us creative and opened up new options to our travellers.

Exodus Today

  • Delighting our customers. We are lucky to host over 30,000 travellers per year – predominantly from the UK, US and Canada. Their feedback gives a recommendation rate of over 90%, and a TrustPilot rating of 4.7 stars.

  • What about the trips? Exodus offers 350 small group trips, across almost 100 countries, with our top destinations being Italy, Costa Rica, Vietnam and Jordan.

  • Always giving back. The Exodus Foundation support People, Places and Planet projects globally, with a heavy focus on re-wilding and nature conversation. And all our trips now feature a carbon footprint calculation based on externally verified data.