Both of us have always been interested in travelling, meeting people and experiencing other cultures. Additionally, what unites the two of us are the experiences we made sailing with young students on board traditional sailing ships. There we could witness, both with us and the students, how this challenging way of travelling being subject to wind, weather and nature, builds and enhances personality and character and also community sense. That is probably because life at sea or on the road simply is “real“ all the time.
The idea for a long overland-trip probably came up sometime between our honeymoon trip to Costa Rica in 2006 and two 4-wheel-trips to Australia in 2008 and 2009. As teachers at a private boarding school which is deeply connected with experience education, sailing and travelling, we have the great chance to go travelling not only during holidays, but also can take a gap year / sabbatical every five years. Travelling in a well-equipped 4wd was the way of travelling that suited us best, so, in 2011, after another two years of trying to find the right 4wd, we bought the (brand-new) Land Rover Defender Td4/Puma and started converting it to a proper overland vehicle.
Being young parents now, the basic idea and our experiences got an additional personal background: Why not travel as a family? For our children, we want to start early using a “nomadic lifestyle“ for education whenever that is possible and not only later during their teenage years. Cross cultural encounters on the “road less travelled by“ provide a great deal of “real“ education. Then, there is the slowly changing countryside. Also, any trip, but especially longer ones provide great chances to make the family grow into a “team“ and can be used to teach a lot of real “life skills“ to our children. Thus, this experience learning will go far beyond the learning and knowledge any classrom or teacher could provide. Certainly, it will open eyes for many different perspectives! Here is an article we wrote for Expedition Portal on that topic.
Parallel to all the planning and the conversion of the Land Rover, apart from shorter trips to Scandinavia, the Pyrenees and the Carpathian Mountains, we started to look for a proper “route“ to travel for our (first) big road trip. ... First, the plan was to start in Germany and go down south to Western Africa. Then, after the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa had to be considered, we decided to go to South America and discover that continent. Since our NGO-experience in Ethiopia and innumerate conversations with other travelers we definitely were infected by the "Africa-Virus". Taking this into account, the overall idea was to start in Europe, see where the roads would take us first and then try to find a way to visit all our friends in Ethiopia again and then go down further south. Here is an outline of the "planned" and "real" routes.