Tobias and Sven (Rafiki on Tour)

Today's Explorers

Tobias and Sven (Rafiki on Tour)

November 23, 2021
min read
Charles Forman

Where are you from?

We are both from The Netherlands. Tobias is from the South and Sven from the middle of the Netherlands. Over three years ago we met through an online travel community.

When did you start your interest in exploration?

Going on an adventure is something we have loved to do since childhood. What started with building tree houses and going on adventurous family trips that grew into building an overland vehicle to discover the world with.

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

Tobias graduated as a biologist, but mostly worked for a webstore, often combining this with adventures on his days off. Since he was eighteen he converted two cars into overland vehicles. Sven worked as creative copywriter at a publicity agency and festival organizer. We both quit our jobs to travel.

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

Tobias knows his car inside and out. This is very useful when we have a technical problem with the car. He always knows what to do, even if we are in the middle of the desert or something. On the other side, Sven has a good sense of humor, which has helped us get out of difficult (police) situations several times already.

Where have you explored so far?

We have explored over 40 countries, 31 together so far. We did a 8 month road trip in 2017 and started another road trip in 2020 (still traveling as we speak). From Scandinavia to Turkey (together) and from Asia to Africa (solo).

What is a brief understanding of your adventures so far?

We like to go off the beaten track. That’s where true adventure can be found. We backpack with tents, hike, mountain bike and go overland with the Defender. On our road trips we love to venture out to remote places and live in the wild, in the middle of nature if possible. So far we’ve only visited Europe with the Defender, but hope to explore more of the world soon.

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

All countries in South America, Canada and Africa. They are true overland destinations.

Where would you recommend others visit?

Definitely the Balkans in Europe: Albania, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina. A real raw diamond inside Europe, with lots of off-road possibilities too. And the people and nature are absolutely wonderful!

How do you primarily travel on your adventures today?

We travel with a Land Rover Defender 110 300 TDI from 2000, transformed into an overland vehicle by Tobias. Including a roof rack, roof tent, solar panel, aluminium storage boxes, fridge, awning, recovery boards, etc.

What are five pieces of equipment you always travel with?

Cameras, phone, drone, coffee machine and toolbox. But let's be honest, that's nearly enough to overland ;)

What inspires you to explore more?

The unknown. When traveling we don’t know what a day is going to bring us. And where it will end in the evening. It isn't easily boring and there are so many beautiful (natural) sights to see.

How do you engage with others?

In any way we can. We like to meet new people. That’s definitely an important part of traveling. Unfortunately, now this is much less possible due to corona. But still, we keep meeting new people through Facebook groups (especially when we have car troubles), besides the road or on campsites. We love to hang out, make a campfire and share stories.

Why is it important to embrace global cultures?

It’s something you can’t learn by staying in one place or in school.

What are your goals when you explore?

There isn’t really one goal. We like to see more of the world, in nature and culture. And by doing so, we are escaping the hustle and bustle and challenging ourselves mentally and physically.

What are some challenges you have experienced?

There were far too many haha. We drive a Land Rover, so there is always something to break your head about. Especially if you drive off-road. For example, our coolant reservoir once cracked in a desert. And of course there was no one around to help us. After a lot of duct tape and tie-wraps we were able to reach the big city for some help.

Also this pandemic isn’t helping us to venture to other continents. But it has forced us to keep exploring Europe at a slower pace (which is good for us).

What has been your most meaningful moment so far?

Meeting some locals in Albania when the car broke down. At first we were a bit hesitant to accept help or let anybody close to our vehicle and tools. But soon we realized they were honestly willing to help us. We soon found ourselves surrounded by food and drinks, got new parts by crossing the city on foot with a local kid and fixed the car that morning. The honesty and willingness to help, without wanting anything in return, that truly opened our eyes.

How has exploration changed you?

Traveling to remote places has enriched us in many aspects. We have learned to live with less stuff. We don’t need the fancy gear to venture out and explore the world. Of course, some gadgets are nice, but you’ll get creative soon enough once you need something that isn’t available.

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

Real growth, in personal skills or knowledge, takes place when going out of your comfort zone. We feel truly alive when exploring the limits of our capabilities. This can be on a macro-scale when heading for a new continent or on a micro-scale when hiking a bit further than last time.

And second, if something goes wrong while traveling, we tell ourselves: “It can always be worse”. With that in mind we have already laughed at a lot of problems.

How do you explore locally?

We always try to avoid the big roads to our destination. We’d rather drive small (dirt) roads through villages. That’s way more fun because you see much more of the country and its people.

What does the explmore mantra mean to you?

There’s always something more to discover. Grab it hard, suck it in and experience every moment to the fullest. Especially the smaller moments.

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

Look further than the beaten path and challenge yourself to cross some (personal) borders. Don’t let people tell you that you can’t do it (and don’t tell yourself).

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

Exploration today is a lot different than let’s say twenty years ago. You have mobile apps for everything and you can get packages from home in a couple of days. This has made traveling a lot easier and accessible, but also has taken a bit of the adventure away.

But if you know where to look adventure still awaits you. Even in Europe there are many remote corners without cell service and tourists. You need to look a bit further than before, but finding these remote undiscovered places is still possible and very rewarding. Believe us.


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