10 years ago - the start of our life changing 1-year-trip around the southern hemisphere


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July 27th 2018
Published: July 24th 2018
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It is exactly 10 years ago that we started our big trip around the world. Markus had always wanted to travel through South America and my dream was to travel through Africa. So we put both wishes together and added 2 countries "on the way" and our round-the-world-trip was born.

We did not prepare a lot. Basically we decided to go on the trip half a year before. So the preparation was more about quitting the job, informing friends, selling the car, finding a new renter of our appartment and selling lots of unnecessary stuff. The first country we prepared well - but the rest..... Well, we had wishes and many ideas what to do, where to go and what to see.

Looking back it was a fantastic feeling when we handed over the key of the appartment to the owner, took the little lorry we had rented and drove to a friends house where we could leave some stuff for the year for free. Then, just before the farewell dinner we both got a new haircut - the same. Life changing trips need special actions sometimes. So with both just having a few millimeters of hair on our heads (the shock for the parents when they saw the first pictures) we were more than ready to board the plane in Zurich. Via Madrid we landed safely in our first country: Ecuador.

What waswaiting in Ecuador about for us: for the first 3 weeks it was all about learning spanish (new for Markus) and getting into the living on the road. For 2 weeks we stayed in a language school in Quito, then changed to a 1 week school in the amazonian rainforest. Ecuador was easy going, a good country to start. After 3 weeks the life of a nomad started for us. We travelled south to Machachi where we based ourselves and did some serious hiking. We even climbed Cotopaxi in a snowstorm which was an adventure! Further south we went for more hiking around Riobamba and finally Vilcabamba. The final days on the coast were the end of 7 weeks in Ecuador. So far we were in a holiday mood. Everything was easy, no bigger problems and only when we boarded the flight we finally realised that we were not going home but so much more was waiting for us. We landed in an early morning in Bolivia. And the country gave us a cultural shock at first. We were overhelmed of the buzzing city of La Paz, we were tired and definitely not prepared! So we forced ourselves to get out on the street, look for a pleasant cafe, drink something, eat a bite and prepare the next weeks in this country. Like this the cultural shock was over in a few hours and it became our routine when coming to a new country. In Bolivia we decided to take a couple of days in La Paz and the heading norht to Lago de Titicaca for a week. It was stunning - but we realised. This is a country where you should take great care when you travel on a budget always to have a hot shower. It was nice and hot during the day and freezing at night. We did not manage to always have a hot shower. But what still is in our mind is the stunning landscape, wonderful people and bad food. But funny enough, it was the only country in South America where we both did not fell sick. Every single day we fell more in love with the country and did amazing things: climbing over 6000m on top of Huayna Potosi, visiting the mines in Potosi, Walking around Tupiza and doing a fabulous 5 day tripf to Salar de Uyuni.

By bus we entered Chile - happy that we could stay in the Atacama Desert for longer. We celebrated Markus birthday there before we flew down to Santiago and met my old friend Eva and her partner. What a fantastic time! Was great to come back to the country for me after 13 years. A lot had changed but some things were also still the same. We continued south via Valparaiso and then Talca. Our first hike with our tent in the Chilean Andes. It was wonderful. We loved the food here, the modern supermarkets and enjoyed the luxury compared to the other countries. Several times we crossed the Andes and spent some time in Argentina (Bariloche area), then Chile again (Lake District). By ship we went down from Chiloe to Cohaique. And here we were - in the middle of Patagonia. Paradies for us. Many, many nights we spent in our tent. By foot we crossed from the end of the longest one way road in the world (which ends in Villa O'Higgins in Chile) to Argentina till we reached Calafate. We visited Cerro Torre, Monte Fitz Roy made many hikes, went back to Chile again for Torres del Paine. And we mostly had pure sunshine! Our final destination was Ushuai - the end of the world.

Christmas was calling and for this time of the year we went to Uruguay. Christmas in the summer heat and a country with the friendliest people ever. Just 10 days - but those were great. From Uruguay it was a short boat ride to Buenos Aires over the Rio de la Plata. A crazy city where we spent 5 days full of fun. Then we crossed over the country via Cordoba, San Juan, Barreales to Mendoza before we finally arrived back in Santiago/Chile. We had mixed experiences, tried many wines, were sick several times. 6 month in South America were over - we were half way through our trip. But we felt that the constant travelling was getting on to us. We were unfortunately not fit enough to climb Mount Aconcangua. We had left this option till the end - but climbing 7000m is a serious thing and we did not feel ready for it after several food poisonings. More about our time in South America here!

We landed after a long long flight completely exhausted in New Zealand. South America was wonderful but honestly in the end we were glad to leave as we felt that we needed a break from unsafe food. Our bodies really were on the limit. So the first week in New Zealand, we visited a doctor, pampered ourselve to healthy veggie food and could finally drink safe tap water. We slept and slowly could recover. So finally we rented the smallest and cheapest car possible, took our tent and started our 6 week road trip through New Zealand. What a delight to cook our own meals. So many campgrounds had washing machines and/or kitchens. We loved the country from the beginning. Fresh air, safe food, fantastic nature, lovely people. It was our holiday from travelling although we were travelling. But we did not make a lot of k's per day, stayed in nice places as long as we wanted. The tramping options (how the kiwi say for hiking) were endless. So no big mountain tour but many wonderful hikes. Looking back, this is a country where we could instantly live without any doubts. Surprisingly we liked the north better - but well, in the south we had really terrible weather. Sadly we left after a bit more than 6 weeks for Australia, a country that turned out to be the lowlight of our trip. Sydney was a pleasant city, but we kind of not caught the soul. We had a fantastic time driving through the outback though. But still: nice sightseeing but we hardly got in touch with the locals. Finally we got in touch with the locals: that one day someone broke into our car and took away everything. All we had including passports, laptop, clothes was gone. I just still had my camera and the credit cards (still thankful for that). It was a horrible time, our travel mood was down to 0. Imagine you check into a cheap hotel and someone is asking you "can I help you with the luggage?". And all you can say while carrying a plastic bag from the nearby supermarket with 2 brandnew T-Shirts, toothpaste and a soap: "thanks, that is all we have." But in the end, we survived, we got passports again and could happily board our flight to Africa. And to be fair: Australia is fascinating to travel and there are fantastic places to be and we found some supernice people. Just with our experiences, it was hard to see all this at that time. More about our time in Oceania here !

When we touched down in Johannesburg for the first time we were really drunk on the plane. We were treated with wine from the lovely crew throughout the flight. So at 5 am in the morning we really tried hard to walk "normal" through the airport. It was too funny - but we were kind of relieved and motivated. Arriving in Southern Africa was starting the last part of our adventure and we both were sure it would be fantastic. And yes, it was one big highlight for the whole 3 month in Southern Africa. We flew directly to Cape Town and got an upgrade for a suite with our own kitchen for 7 days! What a start. Again we rented a small car, a Volksie, and drove through South Africa with a mixture of camping and private accomodations. And we loved it: the food, the people and especially the humour! Hilarious. We did not want to leave but another highlight was waiting for us: Namibia. And this turned out to be even better! Again with a rented Volksie and our tent we drove from north to south through this beauty of a country. Again, we left for Botswana with tears in our eyes. Botswana was a short sidetrip. The country is expensive for backpackers - so Chobe National Park was the only affordable option. but it was great anyway. Then came Zambia. We had no idea what to expect and what to do. Again, the first 2 days we organised ourselves for what turned out to be a heart touching, phenomenal time with wild animals and even a sidetrip to Zimbabwe. I even was allowed to fly a small plane where the prime minister of the country was a passenger! This was crazy, amazing Africa. And we were in the middle of everyhting. Of course, it was not always easy and comfortable. Especially not when we tried to enter Malawi and corruption hit us. We had to bribe the customs. They let me with a german passport in but not Markus with a swiss passport. This was illegal - but what can you do at the green boarder. We payed a bribe and we were finally both allowed to stay for 5 days. So a quick visit to a beautiful country. Lake Malawi was a must-see for us before we continued north by local buses to Tansania. In Mbeya we took the famous Tazara train to Dar Es Salaam before we enjoyed the Indian Ocean on Sansibar - and this was the end of our trip. More about our time in Africa here !

Since coming home, I never entered a company as an employer. I built up my own company and 2 years later Markus joined in. I got seriously ill, recovered again, we met our spiritual master, Paramahamsa Vishwananda and we travelled to Asia and especially India many times since then. The outer journey for 1 year was our looking for happiness, our search for something we could not really name. With our spiritual master, we have found what we were looking for. Now we travel differently - and we surely will continue travelling. But this round-the-worl trip for 1 year opened us and made us ready to meet our spiritual master and start the
Colonia de Sacramento, UruguayColonia de Sacramento, UruguayColonia de Sacramento, Uruguay

the restaurant where we celebrated the New Year 2009
inner travels.

As a couple, we have to say that this trip helped us grow together even stronger. We were conscious about that such a trip can cause serious problems in a relationship and we have also met many people who split up during or after a trip. But for us it was different. We grow together even more and finally got even married. After our trip our life was so different than before - and we are thankful and happy for that. So, keep on travelling, do not be afraid of changes - mostly it is for the better. Happy travels to all!



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25th July 2018

Travel togetherness
Travel will bring you together or tear you a part. Sounds like a fantastic journey. We will following in your footsteps over the next months and will use your information wisely. Thanks for sharing this story.
26th July 2018

travelling
Oh yes, travelling brings you together or apart - this is so true. We are sorry for the "old" blogs to be in German. Happy planning for you on your Chile trip.
25th July 2018
Hiking at Cerro Torre, Argentina

Simply Amazing
Very nice one.
25th July 2018

Searching for rainbows
What a trip...what a life...truly inspiring. Life can be an adventure. Sounds like yours has been a blast. But what rings out is it would not have happened if you had not done it together. Now that is really special. Sensational blog...sensational collection of photographic memories.
26th July 2018

trip of a lifetime
Yes, it was a special trip. And the special thing, we did not stop after it and life continued like a rollercoaster. Thanks. We are happy you enjoyed it.
26th July 2018

Reflections...
I love a summary blog, but this was a summary blog with a difference - thanks for the enjoyable read. Sorry you had a bad experience in Australia, and I can see how something like that would colour your view of the place at the time. I need to read your southern African blogs at some point - it sounds like you had a fabulous time. Here's to many more years of travelling together! :)
26th July 2018

German
Thanks! Yes, bad experiences give like a shadow on something. LAter, you can also see the good things, but at the moment you are kind of blind. Sorry that all our old blogs are in German. We started in German for our family who does not speak english. But later, so many fellow travellers asled us to switch into english. Try deepl.com for translation. ;-)
27th August 2018

Wow!
Wow! What an amazing blog entry! Thanks for a really interesting read and summary of your epic year-long adventure 10 years ago. And a really amazing assortment and collection of photos. Thanks for sharing :D

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