A Round-the-World Trip on a Geländewagen Lasting 26 Years
More than 200 countries, 890,000 kilometers (as far as the moon and back and three times around the Earth) for 26 years — that's the result of this amazing journey in which the restless German travel enthusiast Gunther Holtorf and his heavy-duty Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen 300 GD took part.
Vacations can be a bit of a stretch, as the restless German globetrotting enthusiast Gunther Holtorf and his ultra-reliable Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen 300 GD nicknamed "Otto" proved quite vividly. More than 200 countries, 890,000 kilometers (as far as the moon and back and three times around the Earth) for 26 years — that's the result of this amazing journey! I don't even know who to admire more — Guenther himself, or his G-class, which has overcome all the way without overhauling the engine and gearbox.
In all this story it is striking not only the undying spirit of adventure travelers themselves but also the endurance of the 1988 Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen 300 GD. The most serious problem was the replacement of several body parts, which were damaged during the capsizing of the car on the way to Madagascar. The car is awesome, and the "unbreakable" Otto was driving not along the mirror-like European roads, but along the toughest of places! Today everyone can try out a modern Geländewagen, and rent g wagon in Dubai.
By the time the trip began (back in 1989), Gunter had already had a brilliant career at Lufthansa, and at the age of 54, he was still a strong, fit, and, most importantly, content for the rest of his life. It is not known what prompted him to leave his well-paid position as a top manager in the airline and hit the road, but the fact remains that together with his wife they loaded into Otto's brand-new Mercedes and left Germany.
Initially, it was only planned to "hang out" in the exotic African wilderness for a year and a half, but the life of wandering turned out to be so exciting that they decided to continue it. Today the results are registered in the Guinness Book of Records. Holtorf began his voyage with his third wife, but a year later, his wife was fed up with the wild landscapes and life in a converted car, and she returned to her native Germany. With a sigh of relief, Gunter ordered a copy of Die Zeit from his homeland, armed himself with a pencil, and began to study the dating column. Soon his new companion, Christina, was happily seated in the navigator's chair.
Unfortunately, Christina was not destined to complete the voyage to the end - in 2010, she died of illness, taking the word from Gunther to continue the journey along the route they had previously planned. The couple had married just a few months earlier. Holtorf went on to travel with his son. After driving around Africa for about 5 years or so, the restless couple realized that they could no longer see their lives without traveling - Otto was transferred to South America and in Argentina, the number on his odometer was 200,000 kilometers.
Then came Mexico, Canada, Cuba, the USA (including Alaska), Australia, a lot of Asian countries (Syria, China, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Turkey, and even Iraq and North Korea and others), and of course Russia.
In the course of his travels, Günter Holtorf often engaged in the creation of geographical maps. For example, he created the first detailed (about 400! pages) map of Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia. This grand journey ended in 2014 in Berlin near the Brandenburg Gate. The heroic Otto was ceremoniously handed over to the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, where it has been resting on its "eternal resting place" ever since.
Everyday Life and Other Issues of the Journey
Although Günter Holtorf was quite a wealthy man, he took an extremely measured approach to travel expenses with true German thrift. The travelers slept either inside the cabin (the back row of seats had been removed at the beginning of the trip), in hammocks or in a tent. Otto was also equipped with a kitchenette, a shower, and other modest amenities that allowed unpretentious pilgrims in most cases to do without paying hotels.
Gunther had every chance of becoming a popular blogger and earning a lot of money from his travel notes, but this powerful old man did not recognize the Internet or anything associated with it. He didn't even have a laptop, and it was the meticulous Christina who kept his paper diary. The travelers didn't resort to sponsors either - their car remained unspoiled from advertising until the final end!
Returning home, Günter Holtorf eventually wrote a book called "Otto," in which he described his 26-year adventure in detail. Happy retirement to you, old chap!