#1 - Recipe for Adventure
Jeff Willner - 22 June 2001
"I donít understand", the potential advertiser said
to one of the members of our team, "Why exactly are you doing this
trip - what is your concept?" Thatís a valid question. Why would four
young professionals decide to leave jobs and loved ones to squeeze into
a Land Rover and drive around the world. Weíre not really anything special,
no professional explorers in the group, no seasoned aquanauts or ex navy
SEALs. Just a group of soft, somewhat nervous amateurs with wide eyes.
Ordinary people on an extraordinary adventure. Ultimately the tour boiled
down to a really simple concept, weíre just curious about whatís out
As with most big ideas, the concept formed in an innocent
way over coffee. I was on summer break from graduate school and mulling
over my post-graduation plans, doing a little internal Q&A.
Q. How much time off do you think you could wrangle after graduation before
you would have to start work?
A. One year.
Q. What countries would you really like to see?
A. All of them.
From a simple premise the trip was born. I wonít lie
to you, it took a fair amount of planning. A one year trip through 44 different
countries on five continents - the visa research alone took weeks. And
having the economy pack up six months prior to the trip start was most
inconvenient because potential sponsors suddenly found new uses for their
money. But in the end, despite frustratingly scarce information and last
minute panics, we set off to Africa to begin.
Hereís how we prepared: - The Vehicle; 1986 Land Rover
110, rugged, reliable, easy to maintain, with a suspension that soaks
up the most terrible terrain - we shipped the truck by container to Namibia,
Africa - The Alterations; taking a truck round the world requires some
modifications (new diesel engine, roof rack, roof tent, 4 jerry can rig,
2 spare tires, AC, CD/stereo, 3 alarms, 2 internal fuel tanks, internal
water tank, 3 hidden storage compartments, sleeping/storage deck, security
meshed windows, double rear suspension, bull bar, spotlights, extra battery,
new seats, insulation, soundproofing) - The Equipment; camping/cooking
gear, full tool kit (40lbs of Craftsmanís finest), Iridium satellite
phone (yes, Iridium is back), expedition medical kit, recovery tackle,
laptops, digital cameras, video gear - The Documents; Carnet de Passage
(essentially a passport for the vehicle secured by a bond), Vehicle Insurance,
Expedition Insurance (including emergency medical extraction and Kidnap & Ransom),
letters of recommendation from senior government types, a plethora of
injections, and an extra large passport to accommodate all the visa stamps
- The Clothes; ironically with all the gear and equipment on the truck,
space is at a premium and my wardrobe for the year consists of 4 changes
In Nairobi there is a giraffe sanctuary for the rare Rothchilds giraffe,
these majestic animals will come right up and eat from your hand.
In words of one of the tour members, "this is the closest thing
to feeding a dinasaur that I can imagine".
At the start of the Junglerunner trip in Victoria Falls with Rob Smoot
As sponsors faded like the logo on a cheap t-shirt, and my stock portfolio
went from the high six figures to the low five figures, it became clear
that to do the trip, the costs would have to be shared. I met Sally while
on exchange at LBS in England. Jody and Gulin answered a posting on the
Lonely Planet website, "Wanted, adventurous travelers for one year trip
around the world - cost $30,000". You read that correctly, the whole team
has not met yet, weíve only exchanged emails. Did I tell you the trip would
So here I am in Victoria Falls at the start of the
trip, waiting for the team to show up on the 23rd. Of course African
laws dictate that things must begin to go wrong immediately and true
to form the container in which the Land Rover is being shipped was inexplicably
delayed rounding the Cape so it will arrive in Namibia one week late.
Iím nervous about money since our budget is razor thin, anxious that
the team will gel together, and concerned about even being able to get
past Sudan (last I heard there is trouble getting vehicle clearance to
drive through the country). Standard jitters I expect. No trip could
be considered an epic if it was too easy.
Iím 33. Thirty three. And Iím about to drive around the world by Land
Rover. The bank is baffled as to why I would want to add another $30,000
to my $100,000 school loan. My employer would really rather I didnít run
off for a year. What am I doing? What IS the concept? To quote a famous
man, "I took the road less traveled, and that has made all the difference." Weíre
just ordinary people on an extraordinary adventure. I sure donít know if
we will be able to pull this thing off - but weíre going to give it a try.
Excerpts from Sally DeFina and Jody Finver will be
in the next journal. Gulin Akoz joins the team in mid-July.