WEDNESDAY WRITE-UP: #35 Dan Grec
Dan Grec is one very inspiring man. This modern-day explorer, born in Victoria, Australia decided years ago, while he was working a 9-5 job in Canada that he wanted more from his life and set out to make it happen! After a few small life-changes and a committed savings plan, he bought a $6,000 used Jeep and began his 2yr trip driving from Alaska to Argentina. On top of his epic adventures, Dan wrote a book ‘Work Less to Live Your Dream’ (has another one on the way too) and is currently touring the entire African continent, “Going where the others don’t dare”. We have no doubt Dan’s story will inspire you!
Describe yourself in 5 words
Adventurous, Outdoorsy, Dedicated, Hard-Working, Easy-Going.
Tell us about your current ADVENTURES.
I am driving my Overland-prepared 4×4 right around the continent of Africa. To this point, I have driven about 50,000 km from Morocco South Africa on the West Coast through 19 countries. Now I will drive North to Egypt through about 15 more countries on the East Coast and another 50,000 km.
What is your current OFF-ROAD VEHICLE, including your set-up?
I’m driving a 2011 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited.
The Jeep has a pop-up roof from Ursa Minor that provides the ability to stand up and walk around inside, and I built custom cabinets to improve interior space. It also has a drinking water tank and filtration system, dual batteries, solar panels, fridge, winch, etc. etc. The Jeep is my house for 2+ years, so living accommodations are important.
Who INSPIRED you into this ‘adventurous’ lifestyle?
Ted Simon’s book “Jupiter’s Travels” had a bigger impact on me than any other because he was just a regular guy before he decided to ride a motorbike around the world. I’m a regular guy too, so after reading his book, I became more determined it was actually possible!
Have there been any major STRUGGLES travelling through international countries?
Nothing overly difficult, but lots of little things like obtaining visas along the way, getting malaria (twice) and trying to learn the local languages. I consider all of these situations as part of the adventure, not actually struggles. After all, if I wanted life to be easy, I could have just stayed at home!
What is it like travelling through Africa SOLO?
West Africa has been like no other place I have seen on earth. Many places are untouched by tourists, and locals are outrageously friendly and welcoming. The wilderness and scale are hard to comprehend, and large areas are also untouched. Going solo has been an amazing way to force myself to learn French and chat to locals.
The most MEMORABLE TRACK you’ve experienced so far?
I took a very seldom-used route through the DRC that was by far the most remote I have ever been in my life. The locals were extremely friendly, and I helped recover and tow multiple vehicles that were stranded in the mud. Crossing the Congo river on the most ramshackle ferry of my life is something I will never forget, as are the smiles of children waving and cheering at me.
One of the most MEMORABLE MOMENTS you’ve experienced during your travels?
In Gabon, the locals are extremely friendly. Countless times people would come up to me to shake my hand and say I’m welcome in their country. Their faces always lit up with happiness when I said how much I was enjoying myself; their pride was so clearly visible. Young and old, men and women, everyone was happy to have me in their country and wanted to invite me for tea or just to sit and chat.
What’s the most BIZARRE EXPERIENCE you’ve encountered on your travels?
Actually in Ontario, Canada. I was camping alone just before winter and a very strange man drinking wine on his own wanted me to join him. Even after I made it clear I didn’t want his company, he eventually asked me to take a nude photo of him – while standing stark naked. I told him to leave – and he did – though I didn’t sleep a wink in my tent that night!
Biggest MECHANICAL FAIL? And were you able to fix it?
Touch on wood, I’ve never had a ‘big” failure. The worst was a broken sway-bar end link that is not really important and I simply cable-tied it out of the way.
Describe your IDEAL campsite.
A little elevated to catch a breeze and view, either mountains or beach. Usually off a dirt road off a dirt road, so it’s out of the way and peaceful. I only need enough of a clearing to get the Jeep level and have room for a chair, though it’s always nice to have room for a small fire too. Hearing wild animals in the night is always a plus – recently I had elephants walk right past me in the moonlight, and I lay awake listening to a lion panting another night.
Name one PRODUCT you wouldn’t leave home without.
A headlamp (head torch). Having my hands free to do things in the dark is a must!
Favourite DISH to cook on the road?
Stir-fry veggies on rice or pasta.
I buy whatever veggies are for sale at roadside markets and throw them all together!
What ICONIC destinations and tracks are still on your bucket list?
I’m very much looking forward to the iconic sites on the East Coast like Vic Falls, The Danicle Depression in Ethiopia (a pit of lava) and the pyramids of Sudan and Egypt. As for tracks, I hope to be able to drive the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt into Israel to finish the expedition by driving off the continent. Safety is a concern in that region, and sometimes the government does not issue a permit to drive that road, so I will have to wait and see.
ADVICE for new adventurers wanting to travel overseas with their vehicle?
Do not ever listen to anyone that says you can’t do it!
There are thousands of people too afraid to try, but once you get going, you will meet hundreds who are actually out there living their dreams on the road. You really can do it if you want it badly enough.
Last words to SHARE with us.
I’m just putting the finishing touches on my first printed book about my 65,000km, two-year journey from Alaska to Argentina. It’s called “The Road Chose Me Volume 1” – keep your eyes on my website for order details in the next few months!
Connect with Dan Grec