Birgit and Klemens (4x4 Panda)

Today's Explorers

Charles Forman
February 16, 2021
7
min read

Where are you from?

Innsbruck, Austria

When did you start your interest in exploration?

Earlier than we can remember. We've been travelling with our parents since we were little. So maybe it's also a genetic problem :)

What is a brief understanding of your background story up until you started seeking adventure?

We both grew up in Tyrol, in the middle of the Austrian Alps. So exploring the mountains in our backyard was always part of our lives. Since we met in 2012 we are pursuing our dreams together.

What special skills do you have to help with your explorations?

Birgit is a doctor and Klemens is a mechanical engineer. That might help a bit in some situations, but most of the time you have to figure things out as you go along. In fact we are happy if we don't need our skills while we are on the road, because that would mean something already went wrong.

Where have you explored so far?

Our first big trip as a couple was our journey from Austria to Kyrgyzstan in a tiny Fiat Panda. Currently we are overlanding the panamerican highway.

What is a brief understanding of your adventures so far?

We both love the mountains and travelling, but the best is to combine these two things. In order to bring all the toys like skis and climbing gear, we are exploring the world in our selfbuilt camper.

What are the top three destinations you hope to explore next, and why?

As we got stuck while travelling the pan american highway we are really looking forward to seeing more of the Americas. After that Africa would be on the top of our list.

Where would you recommend others visit?

All the countries we have been to, are worth a visit. But if we have to pick one: definitely Turkey, as it is easy to travel, but still adventurous, the people are incredibly friendly, the food is great and there are a lot of beautiful wild places to explore.

How do you primarily travel on your adventures today?

We are now travelling with a Puch G 290 GD (similar to a Mercedes G Wagon) built in 1998. We restored it completely and converted it from an old military vehicle to a camper with a pop-up roof, a comfy interior and a diesel heater.

What are five pieces of equipment you always travel with?

A camera, climbing gear, a shovel, some tools and first aid equipment.

What inspires you to explore more?

The urge to see what's behind the horizon or the next corner.

How do you engage with others?

That's the wonderful thing about this kind of travelling, contacts happen all by itself when you drive a strange white truck through a foreign country.

Why is it important to embrace global cultures?

Travelling and exploring other cultures makes you a better person. It opens your mind, lets you grow as a person and is the best cure for prejudices and racism.

What are your goals when you explore?

To get to know the country, its people and culture. To see the great variety of landscapes our planet has to offer. And of course we love to try the local food.

What are some challenges you have experienced?

We hate bureaucracy, so every kind of paperwork is mentally a big challenge for us. Pretty much everything else can be sorted out with a smile.

What has been your most meaningful moment so far?

Experiencing the overwhelming hospitality of an Iranian family. They invited us to their home after meeting us in a traffic jam and we spent a unforgettable week together.

How has exploration changed you?

It changes your view on things and shows you how the world really is. It is not a mean, dangerous place at all, but a place full of friendly people.

What is the number one lesson that you have learnt through your exploration?

Keep calm and smile.

How do you explore locally?

Once we park our car we love to explore the area by hiking, climbing and skiing.

What does the explmore mantra mean to you?

Get out and experience the world first-hand - it is always worth leaving your comfort zone.

What advice would you give to others who are seeking life changing adventure?

Just do it and don't wait for the 'the right time'! You neither need a lot of money nor some special skills to have a great adventure.

What are some comparisons you can make between exploration today, compared to what you know of exploration in the past?

Today you have really easy access to information via the internet or apps like iOverlander and the community is much bigger than in the past. So it is also easier to connect. There are pros and cons to it, but there are still a lot of adventures out there.


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Adventure
Fiat
Inspiration
Mercedes
Overland
Today's Explorers
Travel
Pan American Highway