Following the hippie trail to India

After 9/11, and the US invasion of Afghanistan, the Asia Overland ‘hippie’ trail — the greatest journey of the 1960s and 1970s — was reopened for the first time in a generation. I saw an opportunity not only to capture the spirit and stories of those heady years, and to compare youthful idealism then and now, but to understand why the Sixties cast such long shadows over our own fearful and protective era.

I followed the classic overland route from Istanbul to India, crossing Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, travelling by local buses and trains over five months. Along the way I met the original Flower Child, broke bread with a one-time dope-smoking Catholic who converted to Islam because of Bob Dylan and found the Beatles doctor (who treated Ringo for flatulence). I also crashed up against Taliban fighters, US commandoes and the paraphernalia of modernity which has turned the trail — which many once believed would lead to a better world — into a path of dust and danger.

You can follow parts of the original trail today. In much of Turkey and Iran travellers are still treated as honoured guests. But Afghanistan is dangerous once again, as are parts of Pakistan. Which is why I’ve created this site; to let you relive the journey, whether or not you did it in the Sixties or Seventies. Just click along the route to see original photos and video clips as well as extracts from Magic Bus, my book about the trail. If you are one of the original Intrepids who did do it, a special welcome to you; please click on to the flickr photostream link to meet old flames, post picture and share stories. These pages are here for you.

Now get back on the trail and relive the journey!