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:
- 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:
Some of the most memorable places we have slept:
- Carretera Austral, Chile
- Canon del Pato, Peru
- Plenty Highway, Australia
- Karakoram Highway, Pakistan
- Pamir Highway, Tajikistan
- 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
- 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:
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
- 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.