By the campfire, João Leitão could tell you stories of his life for nights on end: He flew above Mount Everest, lived as a monk in a Buddhist monastery and climbed the highest sand dune in the world. He swam with wale sharks, fed wild hyaenas by hand and crossed the Sahara on a moped. With 20 years of travel experience, the native Portuguese relies on a wealth of personal memories. In his blog “Nomad Revelations” – João shares the pros and cons of his lifestyle, as well as the incredible places and things he has been able to experience on account of it. His intention is to encourage people to go out and discover the world – and to do it not only during a two-week holiday.
João Leitão was born in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon. In various lectures at Lisbon University, from which he graduated in Visual Arts, he first came into contact with the topics of travel, the beauty of the earth and the miscellaneous lifestyles of its inhabitants. Fascinated by these stories, he set out to explore the world. João’s destinations include more than 130 UN-countries and other regions which officially do not even exist, such as Somaliland or Transnistria. In these scarcely explored regions and on the other legs of his long-time journey, João had lots of unusual experiences: Berbers invited him to a triple wedding in the Sahara, he drove along the equator up to the “Fin del Mundo” (the end of the world) – the Southernmost point of Argentina. In the space of 550 hours, he crossed the Amazon, took part in a Caucasian Challenge Rally, received Kung Fu training in Iran, travelled across Timbuktu and lived with a Kazakh nomadic family.
João travels a lot, but he still does have a home. Since 2006, he has lived with his wife and child in the South of Morocco where he runs a hotel and a business which organizes tours. And after a long search, João even found the perfect mobile home for the time he spends on the road. His requirements were: a four-wheel-drive, low fuel consumption, easy parking, a low-floor van with a high roof. He finally selected a Sprinter 4×4, built in 2005, with a two-litre, five-cylinder turbo diesel engine. When he bought it, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, also known as T 1 N, had around 160,000 kilometres on the clock. Since then, quite a few more have been added. Whether in Kazakhstan, Iraq or Kyrgyzstan – not all of the world’s roads are tarred. Therefore, a reliable vehicle with four-wheel drive is indispensable for João.
Of course, life as a long-term nomad also involves drawbacks and risks that João does not want to hide. In Mauretania, Iran, Congo and Mali weapons were aimed at him due to misunderstandings. In twelve different countries, the police stopped him. For eight months, he was put out of action after having contracted malaria in Congo. Nevertheless, he remained true to his lifestyle. It taught him valuable life lessons – which tend to expand one’s consciousness more than books ever could. In João’s eyes, there is a clear difference between travelling as a lifestyle and travelling for vacation purposes. Whereas during a holiday only small pieces of what the earth has to offer will reveal themselves, a genuine traveller will merge the earth with his own world. After more than 20 years “on the road”, João has become one with the whole world.
The shown conversions were carried out by independent third parties. The suppliers and conversions were not checked by Mercedes-Benz. In this respect, these illustrations do not represent an assessment of the supplier and/or conversions by Mercedes-Benz.