‘Magic Bus: On the Hippie Trail from Istanbul to India’

In the Sixties and Seventies hundreds of thousands of young Westerners took off for India, blazing the ‘hippie trail’ from Istanbul to Kathmandu. These intrepid pioneers left behind their parents’ world of postponed pleasure, the guilt of Empire and the spectre of war. Aboard the weirdest procession of unroadworthy vehicles ever to rattle across the face of the earth, they reached for a new kind of life, and became the first movement of people who travelled to be colonised rather than to colonise.

In Magic Bus I retrace on foot and by bus their wide-eyed adventures along the route reopened for the first time in a generation. I cross a region swept through extraordinary and turbulent changes since the Summer of Love. In Istanbul I meet the original Flower Child. In Tehran, capital of revolution, I encounter two Iranian boys whose dream of wealth in the West ends in tragedy. At Bagram airbase I sing Aquarius with US Special Forces commandos in paisley shirts and granny glasses. In Kabul I pick through the smashed statues which are now Afghanistan’s history. Along the way I try to reveal how profoundly the trail transformed travellers’ lives and the countries they traversed, unleashing forces which changed forever the way we travel the world.

‘Magic Bus’ was chosen as a World Hum travel book of the year.

Now click the hippie trail link to get a taste of the trail, my trail photo gallery, route map and blog.

‘Utterly absorbing; if you read only one travel book this year, this should be it.’ – Alexander Frater

‘A magic journey — lyrical, sympathetic but gently sceptical — perfectly suits Maclean’s many gifts. He resurrects the hippie trail in all its zany idealism.’ – Colin Thubron

‘The magical beauty of of MacLean’s prose and the vividness of his descriptions are … mind-blowing’ – James Delingpole, Spectator

‘a disturbing, gripping and intensely passionate story’ – Esther Freud

‘Magic Bus could have ended up on a mere nostalgia-trip. Instead, Rory Maclean takes us through the shattered remains of Shangri La and leaves us sombre, but enlightened.’ – Tim Macintosh-Smith

‘Rory Maclean is one of the most strikingly original and talented travel writers of his generation’ – Katie Hickman

‘Magic Bus’ is published by Penguin Viking in the UK, by IG Publishing in the US and by Editions Hoebeke in France.