The never-ending road trip
In October 1984, Swiss couple Emil and Liliana Schmid took their Land Cruiser FJ60 on what they thought would be a yearlong road trip. More than 30 years later, they're still driving. They are pictured here in Tahiti, toasting the 25th anniversary of their departure.
SUMMER 1985: Dalton Highway, Alaska. Nigeria closes its borders shortly before our departure date. We decide to ship our Land Cruiser to Canada and to explore America first.
Torres del Paine
SUMMER 1986: Torres del Paine National Park, Chile. We stand on the shores of Lake Pehoé and gaze at three imposing granite towers that give the national park its name.
APRIL 1988: Madeira River, Brazil. The road is underwater, so there's absolutely no way overland. We travel by ferry, watching the fast-changing colors of the sky and the silhouettes of other pontoons loaded with precious jungle trees.
MARCH 1991: Kinshasa to Kisangani, Congo River. Our car is surrounded by all the sellers and their goods. We have to fight for a small, shady spot. More and more people board every day with their livestock, chicken, goats and pigs.
NOVEMBER 1992: Rainbow Valley, Australia. A relatively easy drive south from Alice Springs brings us to the stunning sandstone bluffs and cliffs of Rainbow Valley.
MAY 1996: Shibam, Yemen. We camp overnight at what is called the "Manhattan of the Desert." Here it's especially obvious that the architects of the past built skywards to protect themselves against possible attackers.
JUNE 1998: The Shetland Islands, Scotland. We drive through blooming heather, colorful moorland, deep blue lakes and inlets. Untamed nature stretches in all directions, and the wild coast is breathtaking.
MARCH 1999: Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Camels pass us on their way to racetrack training. Locals tell us that camels can smell water in the desert at a distance of more than a mile and can walk for 18 hours without resting.
SEPTEMBER 1999: Kirimsa Temple, South Korea. We travel through immensely green and undulating countryside, where lush forest meet rice paddies. Ancient temples nestle between the hills. Their richness and beauty is overwhelming.
SEPTEMBER 2002: Lethem, Guyana. We have plenty of time to hang around in Lethem, a town that brings to mind the Wild West. It does not take long to realize what awaits us during the next 360 miles.
Trinidad and Tobago
AUGUST 2003: Trinidad. We return to Trinidad for the Emancipation Day celebrations on August 1. From all over the island, descendants of the original African slaves gather in the capital by the thousands.
DECEMBER 2005: Siem Reap, Cambodia. We ride around the peaceful lake with patches of red waterlilies. The forest is still mostly untouched, with a family of curious monkeys hanging out on the roadside.
NOVEMBER 2007: Dali, Taiwan. We reach Dali mid-afternoon just as a light rain starts to fall. But we don't let the weather prevent us from fully absorbing the exquisite beauty of Tiangong Temple.
JULY 2009: Savai'i, Samoa. The ocean rages from a nearby storm. Waves crash against the black lava shoreline with ferocious force. Water fountains skyrocket, then fall back to the sea in cascades like fireworks.
Papua New Guinea
AUGUST 2010: Mount Hagen, Papua New Guinea. When we express some concern about birds killed for their feathers, we learn that the plumage is carefully preserved and passed down from generation to generation.
APRIL 2011: Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka. A 100-mile scenic drive (with some hair-raising hairpin bends) takes us to the heart of the tea-growing region of Nuwara Eliya. Huge tea estates with English names greet us everywhere.
AUGUST 2013: Turkey. On our way from Esendere to Yüksekova we pass lush, green meadows and Kurdish villages. Snow-covered mountains beckon from the distance.
SEPTEMBER 2013: Santiago, Cape Verde. Life in the fishing harbor of Tarrafal changes with the time of day, from the bustle of fishing boats returning with their morning catch to a glorious and tranquil sunset.
DECEMBER 2016: Lake Langano, Ethiopia. The lake is murky, brown water, stirred by fierce winds and rivers carrying sediment. We set up camp beneath a shady acacia, and the next morning, the sunrise is reflected on its surface.
FEBRUARY 2017: Bintulu, Sarawak, Malaysia. One week after the arrival of our Land Cruiser from Odessa, Ukraine, we fix the date for the start of the overhaul for Monday, February 6, 2017. Prior to work beginning, the vehicle is blessed with a Lion Dance. We take this as a good omen.
The journey so far
Emil and Liliana Schmid currently hold three world records for their travels: The Longest Driven Journey (32 years), Most Kilometers (741,065/approximately 460,476 miles¹) and Most Countries Visited in a Single Car (185).
In the course of their journey, they've crossed more than 530 borders and driven 20,706 hours in 11,841 days.
For a more detailed look inside their adventures, visit their website.
1. Vehicle life is dependent on many factors. Toyota's basic warranty is 36 months/36,000 miles, whichever comes first. Actual results will vary.