In our partner spotlight articles, we tap into the expertise of the seasoned adventurers in our network to share pro tips, wisdom, and trip reports. This time, we’re getting a first hand account of overlanding through European and African terrain from ACLIM8 Ambassadors, Eagle Gerai and Lennart Vonk.
Over the past year, Egle and Lennart have been traveling in a giant old school tank of an overlanding truck (one of the more unique and truly badass overlanding rigs we've ever seen), across Spain and down into Morocco. The trip required lots of prep. No doubt there were visions at the outset of what a “successful” trip would look like. Though it’s not over, it has provided challenges, and lessons along the way, not to mention a funny moment or two. We recently caught up with Egle and Lennart to learn about the wild places they’ve been. If you love overlanding, or getting outside for any reason, really, this trip report will provide inspiration for your next outing, and a couple pro tips to stash in your memory bank.
For the folks who don’t know you, what’s your name, social handles, and what do you do?
We’re Egle (@egleontheroad) and Lennart (@biologist_on_a_bike), two digital nomads with a mission to explore the world overland and tell stories that inspire. On the road for the last 7 + years - first on motorcycles, now in an overland truck with the bikes in the back - we’ve covered the Americas and Europe before setting off to North Africa to test out our newest overland beast, the converted Mercedes 1113 fire truck ready for adventure. While Egle works as a writer and tour designer and Lennart is all about visual storytelling, we both love traveling off the beaten path and staying in nature. Camping is an essential part of travel for us, and the ACLIM8 multitool makse it so much easier whether it’s chopping firewood, repairing something on the truck, or having a handy tool to set up a tent.
Tell us about the trip you’re on. Where did it start? Where is it heading? What’s the general style of adventure?
Our journey began in the overcast and gray Netherlands in January 2023 when we finally finished the truck build and set out toward Morocco crossing Germany, France, and Spain along the way. Although the start of the journey nearly ended in disaster as our garage floor collapsed scattering our bikes and tools on the road - luckily, we were moving at a very slow speed, and were able to fix the garage fairly quickly - we soon reached Andalusia and spent a few months prepping for the Morocco leg of the journey. We didn’t have a clear plan: we figured we’d either explore Morocco and turn back to travel toward the Balkans and Turkey, or perhaps continue down to Senegal and beyond until we hit a carnet de passage country - but we knew we wanted to see the Riff Mountains, the Atlas Mountains, and the Sahara Desert following backcountry roads and dirt trails.
Tell us about the prep process. What did putting the plans, gear and itinerary together look like? Any lessons learned here, or pro tips for others?
To be honest, we were overly optimistic about deadlines and plans. If we were to do this again, we’d plan twice the time to finish the truck build well - rushing it only leads to issues later on - and we’d travel slower to truly appreciate the places we were visiting. Our itinerary and route were flexible which allowed us to pause and recharge every once in a while, but we’ve learned, once again, that plans can change overnight: instead of riding motorcycles in Merzouga, we found ourselves adopting a stray Moroccan dog and taking surfing lessons on the Atlantic Coast:) Regarding gear, having a solid toolkit and spare parts is essential, especially if you’re headed to South America, Central Asia, or Africa. Then again, Moroccan mechanics, we learned, can perform miracles on the roadside with the most meager tools and plenty of ingenuity.
"If we were to do this again, we’d plan twice the time to finish the truck build well - rushing it only leads to issues later on."
What about the truck—it seemed like quite a project. What kind of truck is it? How did you get it ready? What makes this truck special / well suited for the adventure?
The truck is a 4x4 1971 Mercedes LAF 1113B model originally produced as a fire engine in Germany. Having spotted travelers in converted trucks like this one back in Sardinia in 2022, we figured it would be ideal for our purpose - it’s massive enough to have a comfortable living space plus a garage for our two dual-sport motorcycles, and it’s mechanically simple and easy to maintain.
Tell us about the Spanish leg. What was the route and concept there?
Entering Spain, we skirted the foothills of the Pyrenees and aimed straight for Andalusia to chase sunnier skies and warmer weather. As soon as we hit the Sevillehit Seville area, we slowed down and chose more remote backcountry roads and off-road trails to explore the countryside - and to practice driving the truck on narrow, winding roads to prepare for Morocco.
What obstacles, if any, did you come across during this leg of the trip?
Aside from a few mechanical issues with the truck, we had to find a new rhythm of traveling and working on the road. Although we’ve invested in a decent quality WiFi booster and router, good internet connection was a constant worry; our garage setup wasn’t quite right, and getting the bikes out and back in was a bit more of a struggle than we expected. Temperatures and altitude is also something to consider - from snowy Pyrenees to the scorching temperatures of the Sahara, we needed to adjust as best as we could. Finally, we learned to keep the daily distances short and the pace slow.
"... keep the daily distances short and the pace slow."
Any ridiculous or surprising moments? Any good campfire story material?
Parked somewhere in a forested area near a river, we were drinking our morning coffee when an elderly gentleman appeared out of of nowhere walking his two German shepherds. At first, we felt a little self-conscious - perhaps we were intruding on his land or his morning walk routine? - but as we started chatting, it turned out he’d spent most of his life traveling, driving military trucks all over Europe and Asia, and motorcycling. He was curious to check out the truck and the bikes, and his parting advice to us was this “enjoy life, have fun, travel far, and remember: if you get arrested, it’s better to go to a Spanish jail rather than a Moroccan one!”. I’m not sure why he’d assumed we might ever have a run-in with the law, but the advice was hilarious coming from a jolly Spanish octogenarian.
“... 'enjoy life, have fun, travel far, and remember: if you get arrested, it’s better to go to a Spanish jail rather than a Moroccan one!'”
Tell us about the Moroccan leg. What was the route and concept there?
We didn’t have a clear route planned, so we loosely followed the Chefchouan - Fes - Casablanca - Marrakesh - Agadir route before looping back. The idea was just to go and see, and we modified the route as we went along, mostly because of the temperatures (Morocco experienced a massive heatwave that spring) and our newest crew member Ziggy, the adopted stray dog.
What obstacles, if any did you come across during this leg of the trip?
The language barrier - in Northern Morocco, Spanish is widely spoken, and in the bigger cities, some locals speak English, but in the more rural areas, it’s mostly Arabic, Amazigh (Berber), or French, so we had to communicate in gestures and smiles for a lot of the way. We had a few minor issues with the truck; the crazy temperatures barred us from riding Merzouga.
"... we had to communicate in gestures and smiles for a lot of the way."
Any ridiculous or surprising moments? Any good campfire story material?
Traveling Morocco during the month of Ramadan was a bit of a culture shock: once in Chefchouan, the famous Blue City of the Riff Mountains, Egle was craving a cold beer and went to a hotel bar to get one (in Morocco, alcohol isn’t sold in regular shops or restaurants, only the bigger supermarkets or big-city bars aimed at tourists). During Ramadan, however, the restrictions are even tighter; although the hotel was clearly oriented at Westerners, the staff kindly asked Egle to go down into the cellar and grab a beer from a fridge herself as they weren’t allowed to even touch alcohol during the Ramadan:)
What gear stands out in retrospect as the most used, most useful, or unexpectedly awesome? Why?
Since our truck is spacious enough to have everything with us - kitchen, fridge, bathroom, and the like - we had less gear than we used to carry on our motorcycles. The COMBAR multitool was fantastic when camping in forested areas, Lennart used the truck and motorcycle tools quite a bit, and the soft Mosko Moto motorcycle luggage came in handy for short day trips on the bikes.
"The COMBAR multitool was fantastic when camping in forested areas..."
What has your usage of the COMBAR looked like? How has it fit into your overall loadout? Have you found any interesting uses? Or unearthed any valuable pro tips?
For the most part, we used the axe, knife, and saw to chop firewood and hammer down awning pegs. Again, since we have a spacious overlanding truck, we didn’t quite have to battle any elements along the way, but if we were to do any longer motorcycling, hiking, or survival trips, the COMBAR would come in handy in a multitude of ways.
What 1-2 pieces of advice would you give to overlanders out there? (Could be specific to longer trips, couples trips, or just overlanding in general.)
Flexibility is key - while tight schedules and meticulously planned routes might seem like a good idea on paper, plans can change, and the unexpected will inevitably happen. Being able to adapt and pivot as you go along is the most valuable skill of overlanding, and cramming your schedule with too many things can end up in travel burnout.
"Being able to adapt and pivot as you go along is the most valuable skill of overlanding."
For overlanding digital nomads, our advice is to take it easy - if you’ve got too many projects, the travel part will suffer; being realistic about what you want to do and what you actually can do is extremely important. It absolutely is possible to combine living on the road and working remotely, but you’ve got to find balance, take time off, and just enjoy the road.
As for couple traveling tips, we’ve learned that the best way to work as a team is…division of labor :) Lennart does the driving, the truck maintenance, the socializing, and the dishes, while Egle is focused on income, cooking, route ideas, and rum cocktails. It’s also really important to just focus on each other rather than the trip sometimes, throw all plans out the window, and spend a couple of days lounging on a beach, surfing, reading, or doing absolutely nothing at all and not feeling guilty about it.
"... the best way to work as a team is…division of labor :)"
Where are you heading next? What can people who are following along look forward to?
For now, we’re back in Andalusia for a year of regrouping and recharging. We’ve rented a small countryside house in the mountains, parked the truck, and decided to slow down a little before we hit the road again. The initial idea was to circumnavigate Africa or head toward Australia within a year or two, but for now, we’re focused on having a bit of a base and doing shorter, two-week or month-long trips in India, Croatia, and Thailand instead of constantly living on the road.
Where are you packing your COMBAR for this summer? Let us know on social media: @aclim8gear. And make sure to sign up for our email newsletter (sign up below) so you never miss an update from Drew and our other ambassadors who are criss-crossing the world putting their gear through its paces.
Want to read more of our Partner Spotlights? Check out Diary of a Hunting Photographer: Ibex in Spain, Mule Deer in Mexico, and Mountain Lions in Idaho.
Want to learn more about UTVing—Drew’s means of accessing remote mountain lion country? Check out What Is UTVing: Fundamental Skills, Gear, and How to Get Started.
Want more trip inspiration for the summer ahead? Check out A Family Overlanding Adventure from Baja to the Arctic Circle.
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