Micha and Meiky (The Michaels)

Today's Explorers

Charles Forman
August 6, 2021
6
min read
All photos subject to copyright protection from their respect owners.

Where are you from?

Munich, Germany

When did you start your interest in exploration?

It began slowly in 2010 and the interest in longer overlanding trips started in 2012.

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

In 2010, I (Micha) was living and working in Norway. Meiky lived in Munich and visited me about two times a month during the holidays. Every free minute we've spent in Norway's beautiful nature and we did some trips around Norway with my car and a tent. Over the years and back in Germany our camping equipment has grown bigger and bigger! Finally we decided to buy a Land Rover Defender for a longer trip to Iceland, in 2012. A few months later followed our overlanding tour through South America for nine months.

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

Meiky’s original occupation is travel agent and event manager. Micha is a pharmacist and writer. That is the reason why Meiky is good at planning and organizing our tours, and why Micha is responsible for our health while traveling and for earning some money by writing texts.

While traveling through South America, we had a lot of work on the Land Rover. With a manual for mechanics (Micha was reading and Meiky was working on the car) we gained a lot of mechanical knowledge. Also a friend in Germany, who works as a mechanic, taught Meiky a lot about cars.

Where have you explored so far?

With our own Land Rover Defender: Europe (Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, France, Luxemburg, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Greece, Turkey, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Slowenia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Ukraine, Moldavia, Transnistria), South America (Argentina, Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brasil, Uruguay, Paraguay), Central Asia (Russia, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kasachstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran), Asia (UAE, Oman), actually in South Africa.

With rental cars, tents, B&Bs: Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau, Kuba, Spain, Portugal, Scotland, Ireland, Maldives, Morocco, Sri Lanka, Maurice, Israel, Palestine, Jordan.

Maybe we forgot some places ;-)

What is a brief understanding of your adventures so far?

Traveling with our Land Rover Defender through the world, every time it's possible.

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

Botswana, Namibia and Mozambique: because we actually are on our third long term overlanding trip through the southern part of Africa and they are on our list after South Africa.

Where would you recommend others visit?

Central Asia (Kasachstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Iran), because still there are only a few tourists (also before Corona), it's safe and there are beautiful landscapes, great architecture, friendly and hospitable people.

Beautiful landscapes: Chile, Iceland, Norway, Oman

Interesting culture: Israel, Palestine

Great food: Georgia, Sri Lanka

How do you primarily travel on your adventures today?

Land Rover Defender, 300 tdi, white, 25 years old,

We installed a 6 liter hot water boiler, comfortable sport seats from a 40 years old BMW e21 and made an engine tuning, for up to 15 HP more.

What are five pieces of equipment you always travel with?

Comfortable camping chairs and table, two spare tires, a foldable salad spinner (as we eat a lot of salad every day), warm down jackets and a Lay Bag.

What inspires you to explore more?

To learn about new cultures and people. See beautiful landscapes and amazing animals. The life in our Defender, with spending almost all day long outside and living better in our own biorhythm.

How do you engage with others?

In Iran and Kazakhstan e.g. people were very hospitable. They invited us for tea or visits in their houses. We appreciated that a lot. On the road, we like to meet other overlanders and make new friends. At the moment both are difficult. Because of the pandemic, nobody invites you to his house (but I also guess the South Africans are less inviting people than the Kasach or Iranian ;-) ) and until now, we only met one single overlander family from Switzerland on our way. Nearly nobody is on tour right now. That's very sad.

Why is it important to embrace global cultures?

We know a lot of people who never left the European culture circle. That's very sad, I think. If you don't learn about other cultures on your own, you miss a lot. Your life experience broadens and you will develop different sights of many things.

What are your goals when you explore?

I guess, the same things as written under “what inspires us to explore more“. And also to work while traveling, relax and step out of the comfort zone and the 9 to 5 thing..

What are some challenges you have experienced?

A broken and bent chassis in UAE; a roadblock in Peru; being arrested in Russia;

What has been your most meaningful moment so far?

Oh, there are a lot: many have to do with animals and nature, e.g. watching some whales directly in front of us, only a few metres from the bay, in Argentina; making some calf friends in Georgia; a volcanic eruption of Tungurahua mountain in Ecuador; visiting the Galapagos Islands: a lunch disturbed by camels…but also with people: some invitations from locals; to hear about sometimes very sad situations of people and how they made the best of it.

How has exploration changed you?

In some ways you are getting more patient, as things often don't work as they should.

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

Everything is possible, nothing is guaranteed.

How do you explore locally?

Also with our car if possible. Sometimes hiking.

What does the explmore mantra mean to you?

Travelling into the unknown and not knowing what the day will bring and at what place you are going to sleep at night. Every day is different. To be happy about the running engine in the morning, to start a new adventure.

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

Just do it: life can be short and unpredictable. If you have the possibility and saved a little bit of money to travel, go for it. If you are waiting until you are old, maybe you are not able anymore. Traveling and overlanding can be very exhausting, so it's better to do it when you are still young.

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

Overlanding became easier than in the past, because of Social Media and the networks. I guess, it was more adventurous in the past.

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Today's Explorers