One of the best and most efficient ways of exploring vast lands is by overland vehicle. Think adventure travel, often over vastly changing terrain, usually over an extended period of time. Being independent and self supported for an extended period of time (depending on where you are this can vary). Think along the lines of driving from Alaska to Ushuaia exploring along the Pan-American Highway for a couple of years, or a drive around the world over for 4, or 36 years. The ultimate road trip. YMMV
In 1989, at the age of 51, Gunther Holtorf quit his job as an airline executive, packed up his 1988 Mercedes Benz 300GD he lovingly named “Otto”, and took off to see the world. A year later he was joined by Christine, 34, who later became his wife. The original plan was explore Africa for 18 months. After 5 years and about 100,00 km – 62,000 miles – exploring Africa, they decided to keep on driving.
Otto completed the journey with few modifications, retaining it’s original 3-litre 88-horsepower diesel engine and gearbox. They completed the journey with little technology. They, for example, didn’t have a GPS and only near the end did Gunther acquire a basic mobile phone.
Christine’s journey came to an end in 2010 when she passed away from cancer. Gunther continued on with her son to honour Christine and to fulfill a promise he made to her.
In 2014, at the age of 77 Gunther returned home to Germany after being on the road for 26 years and having travelled 897,000 kilometres – approximately 560,000 miles – through 215 countries.
Gunther stated the best part of travelling independently overland is having the freedom to decide where and when to go.
Steph Jeavons is the first British woman to ride a motorcycle on all seven continents. And she did it solo, all on one trip, aboard a small Honda CRF250L. Her adventure took her to 54 countries over 4 years.
… Twenty years later, and armed only with a stern tone of voice she reserves for naughty dogs, drunk Turks, Iranian taxi drivers, semi-conscious British soldiers and Saudi truckers, she rides her trusty steed Rhonda the Honda solo around the world, to the highest, driest, wettest, hottest and coldest corners of the earth. She gets caught up in a Himalayan landslide on the highest road on the planet, sails her motorcycle across the Drake Passage to Antarctica, crashes it in Colombia, and claims an unwished-for title as the first person to fall off a motorcycle on all seven continents, as she heads for home up the length of Africa.
This is a powerful and honest memoir written from the perspective of a liberated single woman taking on the world with a dogged determination to complete her mission at all costs.
This is a journey of self-discovery born from a need to shed some light on the darkest crevices of the soul. An inner drive that propelled Steph forward into the unknown and forced her to find her strengths, while exposing her weaknesses.
In 1982, at the age of 23, halfway through her architecture studies, Elspeth Beard left her family and friends in London and set off on a 35,000-mile solo adventure around the world on her 1974 BMW R60/6. She returned 2 years later to become the first British woman to ride around the world.
‘I first rode a motorbike when I was sixteen; a friend was taking his Husqvarna down to Salisbury Plain and asked me along. I can’t say I was instantly hooked but in 1979 I bought a second hand 1974 BMW R60/6 with about 30,000 miles on the clock. It gave me an immense sense of freedom and over the next couple of years I gradually travelled further afield. My first trip was a tour of Scotland, then Ireland, finally progressing to a two-month trip around Europe in the summer of 1980.
‘The following summer I persuaded my brother, who had been picking apples in New Zealand, to meet me in Los Angeles where we bought an old BMW R75/5 and rode together across to Detroit. All these trips gradually built up my confidence, so when I got back, I bought a Haynes manual and set about stripping down parts of the engine to get my bike ready for a bigger trip across the globe. It was already eight years old and had done 45,000 miles so I replaced all the cables, bought a new battery, changed all the oils and put new tires on. I also took the cylinder heads off to fit an extra base gasket in order to lower the compression. I didn’t really know what I was doing but I had been told by a friendly mechanic at the BMW shop that this would be a good idea!
‘Travel helps us to understand other cultures and not just rely on what the media tells us. It’s easy to be afraid of things you don’t understand – that’s why it’s really important that people go and find out for themselves. Those two years on the road completely changed my life and made me the person I am today. They gave me the confidence to take on anything life throws at me without any fear. The truth is, you will always be able to come up with reasons why the time isn’t right. Put aside your fears and just go.’
The Trans America Trail is a roughly 8,000 km / 5,000 mile vechicular route that crosses the United States using a minimum of paved roads. It is meant to be for leisure, travelled by dual-sport motorcycles, off-road vehicle, or touring bicycle.
He has sold thousands of self-made paper maps and road charts containing his idiosyncratic directions. Some people travel Correro’s trail for a weekend; others traverse all sixty-two hundred miles of boonies, from Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, to Port Orford, Oregon, crossing fourteen states.
In the course of the summer—the best season for dirt roads—Correro estimates that there might be as many as six hundred riders on the TransAmerica Trail. There’s no way to know for sure. He does know that people ride it using motorcycles, bicycles, four-by-fours, Land Rovers, dirt buggies, pickup trucks, Pinzgauer military vehicles, and horses. One person did it in a Volkswagen Jetta for fun; another couple rode it coast to coast for their honeymoon, with the bride in a motorcycle sidecar. One cross-country rider was just eight years old. The oldest may be Correro, who is eighty. He likes to say that he has ridden every single inch of it, and that is true, but also an understatement, because he has ridden parts of it countless times. Though he has given up his motorcycle for a Chevy Tahoe, he still checks the trail to make sure that its roads are passable, that its bridges haven’t been condemned. He modifies his maps, charting new routes.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety. With that said, the vast majority of people are good. Recognize the fear mongers. Be properly informed. Be aware of your surroundings. Be respectful — you are a guest in their country. Don’t attract unnecessary attention — you probably already stand out enough.
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