Couple Goes On A 550,000-Mile Road Trip Across 177 Countries Over 26 Years

When you've had a tough day at work and everything seems to be going wrong, you've probably thought about packing it all in and going off travelling. 

Many are lucky do it for a few months, or even a couple of years, but perhaps no modern travelers have been more ambitious than Gunther and Christine Holtorf, who set out in 1990 on a tour of Africa in a Mercedes Benz G Wagon named ‘Otto,’ and never looked back. Over the next 20 years the trio would rack up almost 550,000 miles (885,139km) across some 177 countries. They never once slept in a hotel, preferring to string up hammocks or sleep inside Otto, a car that required a stockpile of 400 spare parts tied to the roof for emergency repairs.

Their adventures lead them to encounters with numerous vanishing cultures, extraordinary wildlife, and special permission to drive through both Cuba and even North Korea. There were also tricky political situations, a few minor car wrecks, and no less than five cases of malaria. Christine passed away in 2010, but Gunther, now 76, continued traveling for several more years before recently returning to Berlin.

The video from 2012 below includes some great highlights from the Hortorf’s trek. To see photos and learn more about the Holtorfs’ amazing odyssey, check out BBC’s interactive travelogue, Outside‘s in-depth interview, and the impeccable documentation on Ottos Reise.



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