It’s a Wrap

Driving along Copacabana Beach; watching a jaguar swim, hunt and kill a crocodile just like on Planet Earth; crawling through ancient cave cities in Turkey; having a tiger mock charge us; joining the pilgrims circuiting Barkhor Temple in Lhasa; and eating Argentinian lomo fillet cooked over a fire washed down with a fantastic malbec.......this trip has been far beyond our wildest expectations. How can you sum up a round the world trip of nearly 180,000km that has taken over 4 years into one short blog? We've travelled to 58 countries in all 7 continents. It's almost an impossible task. So we've rounded them up into a few highlight lists: . Our top places visited:
  • Antarctica
  • Patagonia
  • Okavango Delta
  • Australian Outback
  • Tibetan Plateau
Of course, overlanding is a lot about amazing drives and camping out in the wild, enjoying amazing sunsets (sometimes even sunrises too) and watching the stars. The "best" roads we have driven:
  • Carretera Austral, Chile
  • Canon del Pato, Peru
  • Plenty Highway, Australia
  • Karakoram Highway, Pakistan
  • Pamir Highway, Tajikistan
Some of the most memorable places we have slept: 
  • On the ice with no tent in Antartica (sadly without the truck)
  • Outside the highest monastery in the world, Mount Everest Basecamp in Tibet
  • On our own beside a waterhole with 200 elephants and a pride of lions in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe
  • On an active volcano in Chile, we had to come down in the middle of the night due to high winds
  • Salar de Unyi salt pans, Bolivia
  • Fire station, Nicaragua
  • Drive-in cinema, outback Australia
  • Police station compound in Guatamala
  • On a yacht crossing the Panama Canal
  • Too many petrol stations during long drives in India and Brazil.
Escaping by the skin of our teeth from a flood in South Africa, only to fall in a hole metres from safety; shredding a tyre and breaking 3 disc break covers on the remote Gibb River Road, Australia; being hit hard by a truck from behind in Cambodia and the police deciding it must have been the foreigner's fault; and more. We've been incredibility lucky but on a trip like this there are always problems and difficulties. Here is a list of our top 5 frustrations:
  • Being a useless mechanic
  • Shipping
  • Bureaucracy and regulations for driving your own vehicle in countries like Thailand, China and Myanmar.
  • Dealing with the Chinese police and military, Xinjiang Province
  • Driving in India
Did we think we could drive the whole way around the world when we started? Probably not! But we thought we would give it a go. What was the harm in that? Trying would definitely be an adventure and that is what we were after. So here is what we have learnt:
  • 99.9% of people are nice, friendly and willing to help
  • The world is not as scary as it is sometimes made out
  • There are some amazing wild natural places but they are increasingly under threat
  • You can manage with less
  • It is possible. It might take a lot of hard work, perseverance and luck but it is possible.
All over the world we have met amazing people who have welcomed us to their country. Of course doing it with two young children, it felt like a huge responsibility to not only keep them safe but for them to learn, grown and most importantly to love the world they live in. It's been wonderful to see their response to the world around them. They usually have a different take on something than us and travelling with them has opened so many doors to us. At times, especially in Asia, it felt like we were travelling with minor celebrities as people were delighted to meet foreign children. Homeschooling or more accurately "world schooling" them has been such a privilege. As well as the usual subjects, we have always learnt about the culture, natural history, history, politics, religion or environment we have been travelling through. Aztecs in Mexico; the exploration and wildlife of Antarctica; apartheid in South Africa; the southern constellations in outback Australia; Islam in Malaysia; the Romans in Turkey the list goes on and on. How better to learn about the world than experiencing it. It's added so much to the journey. Talking, books and ideas have grasped the girl's imaginations and intrigued them before we get to a place, then it's hands on learning from there on in and we've been learning alongside them. They will often blow us away by pointing something out in a museum or an animal doing something and explain it to us. "How an earth do you know that?" I'll ask. . The girls are only just starting to become aware how unique their childhood has been, for them travelling is just normal life. Lucy has been on the road for half of her life. Their formative years have been spent exploring some of the planet's furthest corners and we hope that will develop them into truly global citizens. . Of course they have their own opinions, here are some of their most memorable moments:
  • Hoola-hooping to get warm before sleeping out on the ice, without a tent, in Antarctica
  • Seeing lots of leopards, cheetahs, lions and wild dog puppies in the Okavango Delta, Botswana
  • Lucy eating spicy fried grasshoppers in Mexico and fat-bottomed ants in Columbia
  • Catching Piranas for tea in the Amazon, Bolivia
  • Daddy following the Middlesbrough football game in the dark in outback Australia and screaming when a wallaby licked his elbow
  • Pay-by-weight exotic Amazon fruit flavour ice cream in Brazil
  • Making straws that can make the water clean to drink out of lotus stalks, in the Okavango Delta, Botswana
  • Crazy Indian driving
  • Going on game drives every morning in nighties and wrapped in duvets, Africa
  • Kayaking with playful sea lions on the Skeleton Coast Namibia, they kept on trying to chew the paddles.
Thank you to all the wonderful people we met along the way that made the journey so special. And thank you to all our readers for joining us on our journey Gilly, Steve, Alisha and Lucy

Reflections on Turkey

Lucy . We entered Turkey with high hopes of seeing ancient wonders and tasting mouth watering sweets - we did both and more! . The fairy chimneys looked more like sandstone mountains, to be honest. Some of them were tall and thin, others were fat and short. There were thousands of doors and rooms. The people were fleeing from their enemies, so they carved out houses from the rock. They were all very cool inside. . We had to get up far too early to go on the roof with hot chocolate and cold feet to watch the balloons rising with huge belches of fire to make them rise. It looked beautiful. . Me and Alisha went to a cave, took out the rubbish; tidied it up; decorated it with flowers; and pretended we lived there. I would love to live in a place like that. The underground city was huge: room after room; tunnel after tunnel winding ceaselessly through the mountain. Down, down into the earth. They even had circular stones to close up doors, so the enemy couldn't get in. . At Sagalassos I loved the amphitheater, we walked around the bottom imagining what it would have been like to be a gladiator. Then we climbed to the very top, where the women had to sit far away from the action, and I watched the gladiators fighting in my mind. We went to an island, where we met an old friend of Daddy's, we had breakfast there at his friends. There were olives, tomatoes, cheese, 5 types of jam, eggs, fruit, home made bread, and more - it was a glorious feast! They had an amazing garden with lots of lavender. . We saw Alper again in Istanbul, we stayed in his house. We did lots of dancing with Dina and cooking. . I was sad to leave Turkey but I have lovely memories and I always know there are more adventures ahead of us. . Alisha . Turkey is a diverse country, we only scratched the surface of the place. It has an incredibly diverse history and culture, in places though it is incredibly sad. Gallipoli was a place where tragic things happened and both sides lost thousands.(Though I think that war is pointless why can't they play a game of football even though if they played against Middlesborough they would win anyway) What is also interesting is the contrast between the two sides: on one side (Or hand whichever you prefer) there is this very Muslim, very holy and sacred community where every way you look there is a woman in a headscarf. On the other a widely western culture where you can really feel it's European ties (not so much of a great thing as far as miniskirts are concerned.) Many feel the pull towards Turkey and its split personality. Me included. But one thing for sure, too much sightseeing gives you sore feet. Gilly . As our last country in Asia and our first in Europe, Turkey has given us some wonderful experiences. . The memory of waking up to a hundred hot air balloons flying over the truck in Goreme still sends shivers down my spine, it was so beautiful. Hiking through the valleys amongst the stone pillars and exploring the abandoned cave houses felt like doing the sort of "adventuring" you imagine in your wildest dreams when you are a kid. Visiting the island of Bozcaada, was an unexpected delight. Usually small islands and trucks don't mix but thanks to our friend Alper, not only did we have a great place to park but also a fabulous time and met lots of fascinating people. We all quickly fell in love with the place. In fact on the ferry back to the mainland Lucy asked what the name of the island actually meant, I admitted I had no idea. "I think it must mean island of beauty," she replied. Steve . After four years of travelling I was thinking I might be becoming jaded and that it was hard for a country to impress, so I was surprised at how much I loved Turkey. It was helped by meeting Alper, a former colleague and friend, and him sharing his enthusiasm and wonderful hospitality. . Turkey was a dream to travel in. Great sights, history and culture but also some wonderful places to camp. We are really wanting to make the most of our last times wild camping away from it all and Turkey offered plenty of opportunities to do this. Either in amongst the fairy chimneys of Goreme or overlooking the sparkling Agean Sea in Gallipoli. Bozcaada was a completely unexpected gem and one we would never have known about if Alper had not invited us. It really was the idyllic isle with great food and friendly people to share it with. It was a very special few days. As we crossed back into Europe the pace of life seemed to increase a bit. Istanbul is a dynamic massive city and we really only scratched the surface. Still the sights were fantastic and it was lovely to finish our time there with a wonderful meal at a fantastic restaurant. A fitting end to a wonderful three weeks in Turkey.