Have Mercedes Will Travel: Gunther Holtorf

Not a day goes by that I don’t think about making a self-supported, long-distance bicycle tour. I’m sitting in Santa Fe now, looking out the front window, as cyclists ride by one after another. It’s all I can do to sit here and not go crazy. I just found this film and wanted to share it. This is simply an incredible voyage, not by bike clearly, but an adventure of the first category. There are several things mentioned in this film, two or three, that resoundingly resonate with me. See if you can tell me what those are….

I have a cousin who is a world class adventurer, so when I hear about someone like Gunther, and his remarkable voyage, I can’t help but think the wanderlust I feel now is something that runs in my family.
I picked out the bike I need(no purchase yet), and route I want, and now all I need is time and money. I’m not sure how Gunther solved the money issue, although he mentions bypassing hotels and restaurants, and I surely won’t have his petrol bill, but still I still need to secure the funds. After that happens, all bets are off.

Also, I’m posting this because I said before this blog is changing. I want to expand the content I’m writing about, but as you will see about 2/3 of the way through the film, there is a direct photographic connection.

34 responses to “Have Mercedes Will Travel: Gunther Holtorf”

  1. I read about this story a few days ago. Made me dig up one of my old burried dreams: traveling around the world for a longer period. But how do I solve the money issue? I haven’t figured that out yet. If you can share transport/hotel/fuel (with another photographer/writer etc.), it can already make a huge difference.

  2. Maarten says:

    at least old leica’s 🙂

  3. LionelB says:

    It is plain that, for him, it is simply obvious. Such quiet certainty is impressive. Which bureaucrat anywhere would dare tell him “No” ?

    • Smogranch says:


      Yes, to be truly happen alone in the world. Well, never perhaps entirely alone but not needing to tell everyone every move of every day. I like it.

  4. Jeff Topping says:

    Hi Dan,

    Whatever your dreamed of bicycle route is don’t delay. I’ve taken two long bike journeys in the U.S. and they are an adventure. Don’t need a lot of money. A good bike today would cost more than the trip itself depending on how far you intend to travel and for how long. Take your wanderlust and turn the crank. Enjoy whatever you decide.

  5. Brad Zweerink says:

    The think that I really like is that he started his adventure in his 50s. It’s easy to think that having a big adventure is something you do in your early 20s and then you settle down so this is really inspiring.

    • Brad Zweerink says:

      The thing, not think. Trying to get my brain out of first gear….

    • alison says:

      What an inspiring and interesting man. What a wonderful journey. I expect it will bring out the wanderlust in many people. (Not all brave enough to carry it through!)

      Not sure about going by bike though ?

      enjoyed the film very much thank you for that.

    • Smogranch says:

      I love the idea of the bike for a variety of reasons. First, the speed is perfect. Second, because of the speed you are forced to interact with your environment. This can be good and bad but can’t isolate yourself behind glass and steel. Also, it makes you EARN every mile.

    • Smogranch says:

      I feel that way about five days a week.

    • Smogranch says:

      I was JUST thinking that same thing. I’m 43 and thought I broke my arm the other day, it made a sound I didn’t think the human body could make. Getting old sucks but he seems to have handled it well.

  6. Jay says:

    I don’t need to tell you, Dan, the chord this strikes with me. Gunther is definitely in the wanderluster’s pantheon. I’ll have to do my own post, with some thoughts.

    • Smogranch says:

      I can’t believe all the old friends checking in with this post. I love it. Ya, for me the same. Not just the trip but the idea of just doing something without feeling the need to tell every minute of every story. I know I CAN’T do it, the photo and word addiction is too strong, but I love the idea of accumulating all data, living with it for a while, and then figuring out the final message and how best to deliver it. And the Leicas, well, clearly he and I were separated at birth. Mach schnell!

  7. Wow. Loved it. Inspired by him, 23 years on the road, what a champ. I am starting to think I might end up like him. Which would be entirely alright! Go Gunther.

    Living as a nomad on year , I can say that solving the money issue is of course not easy. However, not having a home and living on the road on the move, on people’s couch’es, boats etc – means I can live for a lot less than in any sedentary life. A LOT less than I lived for when I had a flat in Copenhagen. You really need a lot less money than you think to travel the world for years — if you cut the cord and live on the road and live as cheaply as possible everywhere you go.

  8. Randy says:

    Wow, and, wow.
    amazing story ! thanks for posting it.
    Dan, DM me on twitter if you’d like some biking input, equipment wise.
    Don’t worry about carrying too much spare stuff, there’s bike shops all over north america, if that is in fact your planned trip location. I envy you for what you’re starting. Biking is THE best way to cover ground and meet people.
    Ride on dude !

    • Smogranch says:


      Yes, North America will be first mission, but not something I can start anytime soon. I’ve got a great job I love and a wife to think about, someone who will probably want to go with me! I know the bike I want, not worried about equipment either, other than how I want to film/shoot/cover the trip for eventual delivery. I’ve got time to figure it out. Thanks for the note Randy.

  9. Great stuff Daniel, please keep em coming. I am too very intrested to do something more adventures, did a 6 month trip to Australia (1 of them by car), that was the best time in my life. Btw, have you seen Peter Schön adventure
    photos (http://cargocollective.com/peter_s) and when your at the site, do not forget to read the “In Memoriam” stories about his friends..

    • Smogranch says:


      Never heard of this guy, but I’ll look him up, thanks for sending.

      Just checked out his site and work…MAN, incredible. A GREAT blend of adventure and also a good photographer, for sure.

  10. Eric Labastida says:

    What a great journey. I how that when I’m 74 I have that much piss n vinegar.

  11. alison says:

    I agree absolutely when you talk about the freedom being on a bike ,no isolation of glass and metal. The wind (and rain )in your hair . I think travel like that would be wonderful and I hope you get to go onday.

    I`m just lazy !

  12. Sean says:

    Excellent stuff.

    I remember when I was 13 and my friend and I were sat in his bedroom planning an around the world trip. We had everything sorted, and were even planning on waiting for the ice to freeze between Russia and Alaska and walking across.

    The naïveté still amazes me!

    I have a book or two that you should read on cycling and travel. We’ve just moved apartments and I don’t know where they are but when I find them I’ll send them to you.

    • Smogranch says:


      I would LOVE that. This morning, sunrise ride, sun just blazing over the mtn tops, and a huge coyote nearly slams into me. About five minutes later two HUGE whitetail bucks do the same. For a second I though the bucks were gonna charge me.

  13. nick says:


    Killer, Killer journey!! Some people covet big homes or expensive cars of things that in the end tie you down. Not Mr Gunther. He is a smart guy. Very smart.

    Me muerto de ganas de saber cual es la bicicleta que tienes en mente.

    Un abrazo

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