130 countries in 20 years:
The adventures of a globetrotter.

A man with a chequered jacket in a mountain landscape in front of a grey Sprinter

João Leitão has been travelling around the world since 1999 and reports adventures that take your breath away. His goal is to inspire people to do the same.

Revelations of a nomad.

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.

A group of camels encircles a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

It is the unforeseen encounters that make travelling worthwhile.

A Sprinter is parked in a desert landscape

Sand, snow, rock – the wheels of João’s Sprinter 4×4 have touched all these surfaces.

A nomad knows no limits.

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.

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The Sprinter 4×4 as a “survival insurance”.

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.

A Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is parked next to a brook

At dusk: The deep quiet is almost tangible.

Travelling versus holidays.

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.

On his blog, João shares 52 helpful tips which make travelling easier. These are the ten most important ones:

  1. Do not pack anything that you could not afford to lose.
  2. Ask for permission before taking somebody’s photo.
  3. Inform yourself about local customs.
  4. Talk to the people at your bank about the international use of your card.
  5. Look for activities that are free of charge.
  6. Pack your oldest clothes.
  7. Do not change money immediately upon entering a new country.
  8. Always carry your most important possessions with you.
  9. Do not underestimate the advantages of travel insurances.
  10. Learn the basics of the language of the country you want to visit.

The interior of a converted Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

Trendy, practical, cosy: In this van, you can feel at home anywhere in the world.

A Sprinter 4x4 in a desert landscape

Far away from civilization, João needs a vehicle he can rely on.

A flock of sheep in the desert, with a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 4x4 behind it

João has visited Tajikistan, too.

Two Mercedes-Benz vans in the desert

Meeting of the generations: Others also rely on the brand with the star.

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.

Photos: João Leitão

More Links to explore: joaoleitao.com@Instagram

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