News20 December 2023
4-xtremes.ch – Passion for overlanding: how it all started
Dear TankTribe, we would like to tell you a bit more about ourselves and why we chose this lifestyle.
One of the questions we get asked most often, is how did everything start?
It’s hard to sum it all up, but we’ll give it a go. Having such an avid interest in traveling and seeing the world, is a seed that has been planted in both of us from an early age.
Mike’s grandfather would take him along on trips through Europe in his motorhome and teach him to drive, a bit of off-roading and everything about mechanics.
My home was filled with memories from my parents journey through Africa and our family vacation would consist of either camping in a tent somewhere in Greece or snuggling in the back of a van in Italy.
So we were both introduced to this life of nomads and being curios from an early age.
After we met, 15 years ago, we noticed pretty quickly that we share the same interests and wanted to see more of the world. I always dreamt of driving the Panamericana Highway and a few days later, when I returned home from work, Mike announced that he had found the perfect vehicle.
From that point on, all our efforts were fixed on planning the trip and saving enough money to go as soon as possible. A year later we sold everything we owned and shipped our Land Rover Defender to Boston, US.
We spent the next three years traveling through the Americas, first across the US, then north to Alaska, on the Panamericana Highway all the way south to Ushuaia, Argentina and then north along the east coast of South America.
The plan was to ship the Defender to another continent, perhaps Africa? We would never have to take that decision, because in the south of Venezuela, a lady smashed into us with her car, our Defender was totaled, the trip was over, time to go back to Switzerland.
Needless to say, it changed everything for us. We spent three months fighting paper work just to be able to leave the country and ended up back in Switzerland, in the middle of winter, having lost everything.
It was a rough start over, but we know we had to get back on the road. For five years, our sole focus was to work and safe funds, and of course, find and build our next travel vehicle.
Mike came up with this crazy idea to drive to the four most extreme places on the globe. The hottest land point, the lowest place, the highest motorable pass and coldest inhabited town.
Putting everything we had learned on our previous adventure to use and partnering up with strong brands, made it possible.
After years of searching, we bought a Mercedes-Benz Axor 1829 4×4 truck, ex-german army, so it was a perfect base for an overlanding vehicle.
We embarked on a 11-month adventure through Europe and Asia, the learning curve was extremely steep and we learned what we and our truck are really capable of.
In Iran we drove to the hottest land point, the Dasht-e Lut, where we experienced a scorching heat of 65C. Because it was a dry heat, it didn’t feel as bad as it sounds, but yes, we couldn’t really drink as much water as we lost though sweating.
From there we headed to the complete opposite, the coldest inhabited town of the world which lays in far-east Russia. Wrapped in several layers of clothing we reached the Pole of Cold, Oymyakon, during a „warm week“ as locals told us. It was only -52C, so yes, almost warm enough to wear shorts and sandals. The record temperature that has been measured here is -71.2C and honestly, we’re a bit glad that it didn’t get that cold.
But it was interesting to see how our bodies adapted to the cold. The first day we experienced -20C, it felt excruciating cold, and by the end of the „season“ we walked around in socks and sandals (only around the truck of course, we wouldn’t want to share our bad choice of fashion in public) and didn’t feel the need to wear gloves in -20C anymore.
The highest motorable pass and lowest land point could not be reached due to visa problems. But the name „4xtremes“ stuck.
After returning to Switzerland from this trip to the extremes, we know we had to keep going. Due to the pandemic our plans to explore Africa were, once again, disrupted. So we decided to stick to Europe, with a small jump to Tunisia and back. This small continent was always on the last place of our list, but we loved getting to know it. Walking through the streets of places we had learned about in school, like the city of Pompeii, or looking across the straight of Gibraltar and seeing Africa so close. Watching the northern lights dance across the sky in Finland and Scotland is indescribable. Island-jumping the Canaries, have you ever noticed how diverse these 7 tiny islands are? Scrambling through lost-places in eastern Europe and visiting stunning orthodox monasteries in Bulgaria. Camping on an active volcano in Sicily; literally it erupted the night we were there! Walking along beaches in Norway that look like a postcard from the Caribbean, but trust me, the water in the North Atlantic is not tempting to go swimming.
Needless to say, the European continent surprised us many times.
After three years of driving a route that resembles a knitting pattern through Europe, we finally made the jump back to South America.
So for the past year we have been exploring this beautiful continent further. We have revisited some places from our first trip, left others out and gotten to know many more.
Even though we have seen a lot of this beautiful world, we are still fascinated by the unknown and, wondering what lays behind the next corner is what keeps us going.
So make sure to check in here once in a while, to read about our updates.
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