All of our contributors are freelance authors and photographers. If you have any questions about this, please contact our managing editor, Sarah Ramm.
Shirli Jade Carswell
Born in South Africa, Shirli’s career and passion revolve around the African continent and its wildlife and cultures. She cut her teeth on advertising after art school and eventually moved into photography. She periodically packs her 2004 Defender, known affectionately as Tintin, and heads out to some wild destination to capture a library of images for her fine art portfolio. Recognized for her wildlife and landscape photography, Shirli is a passionate conservationist and steward of Africa. She co-authored the book Africa’s Ultimate Safaris, an extraordinary photo journey through the continent showcasing some of its most beautiful and wild destinations. She is currently working on a series of books which will take her into Africa once again, as well as destinations in Europe and the United States.
Shedding light on the obscure, especially at the juxtaposition of man and nature, drives Susan Dragoo to explore the historical treasures of the American Southwest. On wheels or afoot, an old trail and a camera are her key ingredients for a fulfilling adventure. A writer, photographer, and student of history since youth, Dragoo’s work is found in motorcycling, 4WD, hiking, and other travel publications, and her scenic photography in state park lodges and cabins in her home state of Oklahoma. Gallivanting in their Toyota “Tacoma GS” is a favorite pastime for Susan and husband, Bill, when they are not at home in Norman, Oklahoma, enjoying their family and running Dragoo Adventure Rider Training (DART).
Ryan Field is a professional landscape and lifestyle photographer residing in the great Pacific Northwest. The aim of his work is to capture genuine moments against the backdrop of compelling scenery while incorporating unique natural light and atmosphere. His client portfolio includes a wide array of commercial outdoor goods and apparel companies, automobile manufacturers, tourism boards, and high-end, residential real estate. A newfound passion for cinematography and videography has inspired him to diversify his skill set in the ever-changing creative industry. A larger collection of his work can be found on Instagram.
Dan Grec is an adventurer, snowboarder, and photographer who now hails from Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada. Growing up in Australia, family camping trips gave Dan a passion for wilderness exploration in remote destinations. After studying and working as a software engineer, Dan went in search of a more vibrant life. Eventually driving 40,000 miles from Alaska to Argentina, he became inspired by the characters he met along the way and is now dedicated to helping others realize their own overland dreams. To this end, Dan created and maintains WikiOverland—the community encyclopedia of overland travel. After years of planning and preparation, he is currently circumnavigating the entire African continent in his Jeep Wrangler Rubicon.
Brad Lovell left his job as an engineer 12 years ago to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a professional off-road racer. There he found his passion, possessing an equal lust for the intensity of short course racing, endurance of Baja, and brutality of King of the Hammers. He has climbed Mount Rainier, traveled through the Yukon to the Arctic Ocean in winter, and traversed the Australian Outback solo in a 1978 Land Rover Series III. Brad also acts as a consultant for future OEM off-pavement vehicles. He lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and credits boyhood family camping trips in the Rockies for sparking his fervor for adventure. Most importantly, Brad is a husband and the father of twin boys.
Wayne Mitchell was born and raised in Alaska where he grew up working in the family guiding business. At the age of 18, he enlisted in the US Army Airborne Infantry, and after completing a degree in anthropology and archaeology, commissioned as an engineer officer in 2000. After the army, Wayne began a career as a law enforcement ranger and EMT with the US Department of the Interior in Key West, Florida. Wayne founded Static Line Studios in 2015, a film production company that focuses on telling the stories of military veterans after they leave the service. Wayne currently lives in Colorado and is planning a cross-country mountain bike trip in Mongolia with his wife and two teenage kids.
Jake is a New Mexico native who became familiar with backcountry travel during childhood. Some of his earliest memories include riding shotgun in his dad’s Ford Bronco while crisscrossing the Great Divide and sleeping under the stars in Denali National Park. As the founder and owner of New Mexico Backroads, he provides professional guiding, scouting, skills training, and photography services to a host of individuals, companies, and government agencies. Each year, Jake logs over 15,000 miles traversing the most remote and rugged regions of the Southwest. His fieldwork ranges from wildfire photojournalism to multimillion-dollar treasure hunts. His passion for untamed territory and raw experiences, depicted in his photography and writing, evokes the human desire to explore.
Kurt Refsnider, PhD
Kurt Refsnider is a professor of geology at Prescott College, executive director of the Bikepacking Roots non-profit, and an avid adventurer. His teaching, recreation, and lifestyle are all built around access to public lands, whether that includes taking students on month-long field courses or spending a summer living out of his Toyota Tacoma and exploring new landscapes. Despite having embarked on bikepacking expeditions on six continents, his favorite destinations are within the Western US, and as such, he has ridden his mountain bike three times from Canada to Mexico and once followed 4WD tracks from his home state of Arizona to Canada in his truck.
Jaclyn Trop is an award-winning journalist and automotive reporter, deciphering the world of sheet metal for the masses. She divides her time among Los Angeles, Detroit, and New York. She was awarded a Knight-Bagehot fellowship in business and economics reporting from Columbia University, where she also earned a master’s degree in journalism. Her byline has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Fortune, Vogue, Glamour, Newsweek, Fast Company, Forbes, Marie Claire, Men’s Health, Entrepreneur, Rolling Stone, Robb Report, Town & Country, U.S. News & World Report, and Refinery 29 among others. Jaclyn has reported from five continents and eaten ice cream in more than 50 countries. She serves as a US juror to the World Car Awards.
Graeme Bell is a full-time overlander and author. He was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, but considers Europe home when not traveling the planet with his wife, Luisa, and two children, Keelan and Jessica, in a Land Rover Defender 130 (affectionately known as Mafuta). To date, the Bell family and Mafuta have over a period of seven years toured Southern and East Africa, circumnavigated South America, and driven from Argentina to Alaska before touring the US from coast to coast. In December 2016, Graeme personally transformed their Defender from a standard double cab into a camper with through access, a pop-top, and sleeping for four in anticipation of their current adventure, driving from Europe to Southern Africa.
Captivated by wild places and passionate about their preservation, writer Catherine Lawson and photographer David Bristow run Wild Travel Story, an online information hub devoted to documenting the world’s best independent adventures. From remote 4WD expeditions to high-elevation hikes, cycle tours, and sailing and paddling trips, their unforgettable journeys are documented with videos, photos, and blogs that reveal all the tiny details independent adventurers need to put together their own trips. Road testing every journey is the couple’s now 7-year-old daughter, Maya, who became an overlander at four weeks of age, traveling 27,000 kilometers in a trip documented in Wild Travel Story’s first book, Highway One: The Ultimate Australian Road Trip, published by Australian Geographic in 2012.
Rachelle Croft is a Montana native, wife, mom of three, business owner, and driver. She founded X Elles Racing in 2011, focusing on long-distance rallying, teaching, and sharing her story of healing after abuse as a child. She has since completed three of the iconic Rally Aïcha des Gazelles through Morocco, as well as the first Rebelle Rally in 2016. Rachelle is an owner of Hiline Productions along with her husband, Clay Croft, co-produces the You- Tube series Expedition Overland, and has traveled from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, through Central America and south to Lima, Peru. She hopes to encourage women of all ages that anything is possible.
Steven is a Utah native who, aside from riding motorbikes, runs a small business and raises a family just north of Salt Lake City. After living in the Middle East, Europe, Canada, and Colorado, he returned to Utah to put down roots. Both his fiction and nonfiction have been published in magazines as well as online, and he is currently finishing an adventure/crime novel. When asked about his magnetic sense of humor he only replied, “I want to become the eccentric billionaire without all the money.” Currently, Steven rides a 2017 BMW R1200GS Rallye and spends most of his time exploring the West, including Baja California, Mexico.
Bill Dragoo is an adventure motorcycle coach, certified flight instructor, commercial seaplane and sailplane pilot, skydiver, scuba diver, Jeeper, adventure journalist, and a lover of all things that happen off the pavement. Always game for a challenge, Bill has won numerous competitions in motocross, crosscountry mountain biking, and sailboat racing. He has enjoyed first and second place finishes at RawHyde Adventures Rider’s Challenge and represented Team USA in BMW’s 2010 GS Trophy competition in South Africa, Swaziland, and Mozambique. He is quick to tell anyone that the synergy between riding and writing has opened doors he would never have imagined as a younger man.
Richard and Ashley Giordano
Ashley Giordano recently completed a 48,800-kilometer overland journey from Vancouver, Canada, to Buenos Aires, Argentina, with her husband, Richard, in their well-loved but antiquated Toyota pickup. On the zig-zag route south she hiked craggy peaks in the Andes, discovered diverse cultures in 15 different countries, and indulged in spicy ceviche, Baja fish tacos, and Argentinian malbec. You can usually find Ashley buried in a pile of travel books, poring over maps, or researching wild medicinal plants. Ashley grew up in Kelowna, British Columbia, and spent much of her youth as a competitive figure skater. She worked as a paralegal for eight years while completing a diploma in Holistic Nutrition. She is currently studying herbal medicine with a focus on women’s health.
In the spring of 2014, Heather Lea thought her boyfriend’s suggestion to ride around the world together on motorcycles was a fantastic idea. Little did she know she was agreeing to nefarious activities such as blowing up her underwear and letting a dead toe touch her lips. Or the blood, sweat, and tears of breaking a bone, riding in sand, and mechanically trashing her G650GS so badly, she’d need to use most of her trip money to replace it with another bike more up to the task. Heather’s goal in life has always been to travel through 50 countries by age 50. Mongolia was her 51st country, and she is nowhere near 50 years old, though closer than she’d like to admit.
Cyril received an early education of the African bush through dusty Land Rover rides during summers spent in West Africa as a child. As an adult living in his native France, these memories drew him to seek further adventures. Fresh out of college, the tropics proved irresistible, and he found himself trekking the backcountry of Latin America. From the tallest peaks of the Andes to the deepest jungles of Central America and the Amazon, Cyril has found his place in the southern wilds. He’s spent the last 18 years in Central and South America as an explorer and expedition guide. In his spare time, he works as a photojournalist whose work has been published in dozens of magazines in Scandinavia, the UK, and the US.
Raised just outside the marginally controlled chaos of Washington, D.C., Stephen fled into the wilderness of the Eastern US to climb, mountain bike, and camp at every opportunity. While working as a designer, he witnessed the events of September 11 firsthand, an experience that catapulted him into service with the US Army and combat throughout Iraq, seeding his passion for vehicle-based travel. After relocating to Texas in 2009, Stephen decided the only way to hide his Yankee roots was to buy a big diesel truck to explore the expansive Southwest. He now runs a diesel performance shop and spends most of his time looking for fish who will eat his horribly tied flies.
Lois Pryce is a British travel writer, broadcaster and author of three best-selling books about her solo motorcycle journeys from Alaska to Argentina, London to Cape Town, and most recently, a 3,000-mile ride around Iran. Her latest book, Revolutionary Ride: On the Road in Search of the Real Iran was shortlisted for the Edward Stanford Travel Writing Award. Her work has appeared in the Guardian, Telegraph, New York Times, Independent, and CNN. The Telegraph named her as one of the World’s 10 Great Female Travelers. With her husband, adventure filmmaker Austin Vince, she is also co-founder/director of the Adventure Travel Film Festival which occurs annually in the UK and Australia.
Chris Scott is an award-winning, UK-based adventure travel writer who specializes in the Sahara; he’s visited over 40 times since 1982, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea using motorcycles, 4WDs, a jacked-up Mercedes sedan, local bush taxis, and camel caravans. Chris’ desert films have been featured on the National Geographic channel, and for many years he updated the Outback regions of Australia for Rough Guides. His books include Sahara Overland, the Adventure Motorcycling Handbook, and Overlanders’ Handbook. He recently published a short guide on Sahara camel trekking as well as The Street Riding Years, an urban memoir describing his life as a motorcycle messenger in 1980’s London. An Amazon bestseller, it was Ride magazine’s “Book of the Year.”
Karin-Marijke Vis and Coen Wubbels
Freelance writer Karin-Marijke Vis, along with her partner, photographer Coen Wubbels, combine their love for adventure with work they enjoy. Sometimes described as being the “slowest overlanders in the world,” they believe in making connections and staying in a place long enough to do so. In 2003, the couple purchased an antique BJ45 Land Cruiser and began a three-year trip from their home in the Netherlands to Asia. Terminally infected by the overland bug, they traveled in South America for nine years, and in Japan and South Korea for two years. They are currently making their way through Russia and Central Asia. They’ve been published in magazines around the world, and in 2013, Expedition Portal awarded the pair the coveted Overlander of the Year award.
David is a world and humanitarian assignment photographer, best-selling author, and international workshop leader whose adventurous life fuels his fire to create and share. Based in Victoria, Canada, when he’s home, David leads a nomadic life chasing compelling images on all seven continents. When on assignment, he creates powerful photographs that convey the hope and dignity of children, the vulnerable, and the oppressed for the international NGO community. When creating the art he so passionately shares, David strives to capture the beauty of the natural world. Drawing on a previous career in comedy, he is a dynamic and engaging itinerant presenter and educator, inspiring others through stunning visuals and hilarious travel stories from a life spent outside and abroad.
Ashton Ray Hansen
Based in Boulder, Colorado, Ashton has spent the better part of a decade specializing in food and lifestyle photography for commercial and advertising clients. It wasn’t until December of 2016, when he bought his first Toyota 4Runner, that his focus changed entirely. Exploring around the high Rockies with his partner-in-crime, Laura, and their Australian Shepherd, Lily, he discovered what fuels his fire most: automotive adventuring, or overlanding, if you will. Soon, he plans to traverse the Colorado Backcountry Discovery Route (COBDR)—a 675-mile route that begins at the Four Corners and winds its way to the Wyoming border. When Ashton’s not on the road, he’s most likely eating tacos and sipping on margaritas.
David Braden Horn
David was that kid staring out the window of the classroom, daydreaming about exploring outdoors. He grew up as a military nomad, developing an insatiable curiosity and sense of wonder that continues to this day. After bouncing between jobs as varied as construction work in Alaska to firefighting in Arizona, he began a two-decade career in the express shipping industry. David then returned to an early passion for vintage overland vehicles by sourcing and importing them, documenting the search for these iconic trucks in words and images. Still fighting off the occasional urge to pull up stakes and move again, he currently makes his home in Texas. A traveler, photographer, writer, equestrian, aviator, and cook, David recently added fatherhood to his list of life’s adventures.
Ray’s vehicle choices are often considered eclectic, if not eccentric. As a member of the Explorers Club and a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, he loves to add an element of uncertainty to each trip. In 2016, he drove 16,000 miles from London to Singapore over nine months with his wife and three kids in an unrestored, $300, 62-year-old Land Rover that broke down every single day. He is also the face of the popular Overland Rallies series of events held in the Pacific Northwest every summer, where he tries to follow the Rallies’ motto every day, “Have fun, meet people, learn stuff!” When not exploring, he is based near Vancouver, British Columbia.
Tom’s overlanding experience spans over 50 years and 110,000 miles, including three UK–Gulf journeys (one through pre-tarmac Saudi Arabia), off-tracks exploration in Northern Africa, and the first-ever lateral crossing and continuous gravity survey of the Sahara from the Atlantic to the Red Sea, for which he gained the Royal Geographical Society’s Ness Award. Tom is, as he puts it, “CEO, MD, author, photographer, designer, and postal clerk” at Desert Winds Publishing in the UK, from which have emerged the Vehicle-dependent Expedition Guide, Four-by-four Driving, The Nobility of Wilderness, and Quiet, for a Tuesday— the story of his 16th foray into the remotest regions of the Algerian Sahara.
Lisa Morris and Jason Spafford
British born, self-confessed thrill-seekers, Jason and Lisa’s motivating force is adventure travel, enabling their passion as media professionals. Previously, they co-ran scuba diving trips around the watery globe as instructor guides. Having hung up the fins, they jumped in the saddle and motorcycled their way from the bottom of the planet to the top. Over the last three and a half years, they’ve clocked over 50,000 miles from Antarctica to the Arctic. Spirited advocates for nomadic living, Jason is a professional photographer, filmmaker, and drone pilot. With the visuals taken care of, Lisa scribes roadside musings and freelances for various travel and overland publications, reviews products, and consults with manufacturers of apparel and gear.
Gary and Monika Wescott
Gary and Monika Wescott have spent the last 45 years globetrotting around the world, from the arid desert of Turkmenistan, following the Silk Road, to the jungles of the Amazon, and across Siberia in the dead of winter. The couple’s travel adventures have been published in 10 countries and eight languages. Their in-depth knowledge of the problems and joys of overland travel in remote areas is incomparable. Gary and Monika’s meticulously prepared travel/research trucks, from their original Land Rover to the current Ford F-550, The Turtle V, have been an inspiration for many. Their experience and photography encompass what Overland Journal is all about. From the beginning, The Turtle Expedition’s motto has been, “Don’t take the trip. Let the trip take you.”
Andy Biggs is an avid adventurer, conservationist, teacher, and outdoor photographer whose images celebrate the African landscape and its rich wildlife, people, and culture. Andy unfolds the world of the Serengeti, Okavango Delta, and other fauna-rich destinations onto our doorstep with striking emotional depth. His guided photographic safaris allow the traveler to not only enhance their understanding of photography, lighting, and wildlife but to develop a lifelong admiration for Africa’s beauty and culture. Banana Republic used 13 of Andy’s photographs as the cornerstone for their Urban Safari campaign. He was also the winner of the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, Wild Places category, as well as Highly Commended in the Unique Visions of Nature category.
Shannon and Mike Mills
The odd escape weekend spent motorcycle camping in the mountains of Washington State started to morph; some exotic parasite was eating the parts of their brains in charge of security and stability. The trips got longer, the distances farther, until one day, after a month-long haul to the Arctic Circle, they returned and, with hands on hips, just stared at their house from the street. At that moment they decided to make a big change; the gypsy parasite had completed its lifecycle leaving them different than before. Mike and Shannon Mills set out in 2014 and spent the next three years going full circle around the globe.
Life Remotely is Jared McCaffree and Jessica and Kobus Mans—overlanders, foodies, ground tent campers, and digital nomads. After a decade of dreaming of life on the road, the trio packed their tech careers and gear into a Toyota 4Runner and headed south. They arrived at their destination, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 18 months later and published Forks in the Road: Recipes from Overlanding the Pan-American Highway. Jared, who has an unhealthy obsession with bacon, is the team’s chef. Kobus, who believes that hot sauce is an appropriate condiment for every meal, is the driver. Jessica, the onion-hating chief baker, is the navigator and voice of reason. They founded Life Remotely to help others realize that life on the road can be a reality.
From the hills of Northern England, Sam Watson first traveled the Sahara Desert at age 7, and it stole his heart. Since then he has lived in various locations in Africa and the Middle East, and in the process mapped areas of the Sahara, Middle East, and Kenya. He has worked in desert search and rescue, as well as for various conservation projects including the Kenya Wildlife Service and Born Free Foundation. He is happiest when overlanding in one of his three battered Land Rovers: Elsa, Tusker, and Bumblebee. Based in Egypt and the UAE, he spends most of his time exploring the remote corners of the Sahara and Arabia. Sam is also a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and a member of the Royal Institute of Navigation.
Sam is a freelance writer based in Empire, Michigan. He went to Montana State University to play outside and happened to walk away with an English degree. His time out West laid the groundwork for a life bound by adventure with his wife, dog, and his 1970 IH Scout named Scout. A self-proclaimed professional dabbler, his interests encourage a life led by an insatiable curiosity. Not an expert in anything but semi-competent in various hobbies, he’s always learning and occasionally failing. Writing and photography are Sam’s vehicles to remind people of the value of wild places and public land and why they deserve protection.
Forrest and Samantha Cooper
Forrest and Samantha first met when they were just children. For the next 13 years they each explored the world in their own ways. She traveled through dance and her own ambition. He became an Army Ranger and toured the Near and Middle East, one deployment after another. After 13 years they met again, were married, and set out to do that one thing they loved, together. Now, the two study philosophy, and are in search of both adventure, and what it is that makes it so desirable. Adventure came first, then came motorcycles, and for the Coopers, this is just the beginning.
Peter Fischer was just 24 years old when he took to the open road: he left Hamburg on a freighter headed for Buenos Aires and embarked upon a 5-month tour through South America. He continued to travel South America for several years, became a tour guide for a number of bike travel companies, and established a travelers’ workshop on the route to Tierra del Fuego in Chile for motorcycles and 4WDs. Peter is a certified BMW off-road instructor, GS Trophy Marshal, instructor for the Chilean police force, and still as passionate about motorcycling as ever. Italy is currently where Peter calls home, and he enjoys taking to the secluded trails in the Alps either on his own or with a few like-minded riders.
Stefano is an Italian by random chance, architect by generous luck, photographer by passionate love, and dharma bum by stubborn dedication. Based mostly between Vilnius, Madrid, and Milan, he combines architectural creative design with on-field photo reportages around the world. His best clients are International NGO’s, a few awesome travel publications, and himself, too. During the last year, he’s spent some time reporting from conflict zones in the Middle East including the plundered city of Qaraqosh in Northern Iraq, connecting with Syrian refugees in Lebanon, and Palestinian refugees in Jordan. On his life journey, Stefano has made the happy discovery that unlike money, the more time one spends traveling, the richer one gets.
Kyra Sacdalan is an author, photographer, and cultural bloodhound in search of the next amazing moment. As the co-creator of WEST x1000, a multimedia company which creates unique content for the motorcycle, travel, and outdoor communities, she scours the world with an open mind and a fresh notepad. To her, motorcycles are a tool—a catalyst for adventure. And she’s been lucky enough to share her journeys with many like-minded individuals out there. Recently, she has realigned her trajectory toward the stars, so to speak, with a video series and other film projects in the works which highlight the many incredible people, places, and experiences she has had the good fortune of encountering.
Although he regularly hangs his hat in his Salt Lake City, Utah, home, Aaron travels extensively, camera in hand, documenting his many outdoor adventures. There are few photographers in the world with the ability to capture speed the way Aaron Brimhall does. Whether it’s dangling out the back of a van or surfing his bike through the middle of the freeway, Brimhall will do just about anything to get the shot. His gritty sweat-stained images have become legend, and his dynamic approach to adventure and photography have created a seriously powerful body of work. Always on the move and deep in the middle of the action, there’s no telling what hell-raising journey he’ll be headed out on next.
Equal parts entrepreneur, writer, and digital media guru, Amy Jurries boasts more than 10 years of digital content marketing experience. She’s the founder of The GearCaster, a leading outdoor gear website that tracks the trends in the industry, and her writing has appeared in a variety of publications including Outside Magazine, Backpacker, The Red Bulletin, TNT Magazine, and Pilot Guides. Amy has lived and worked in many countries across the world including Belgium, Canada, France, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, though currently resides in sunny California. When not on her bike or hanging off frozen waterfalls, she’s usually traveling to explore some far-off destination.
Matt Williams is an adventurer, traveler and photographer, but is happiest when he gets to do them all at once. He loves nothing more than getting away from the bright city lights with his wife and two dogs and rolling out his swag. Born and bred in North Queensland, Matt grew up in Mackay and was always exploring the great outdoors while fishing and camping. Matt has worked as a freelance photographer since 2014, specializing in outdoor, adventure, and vehicle photography. However, he often returns to his love of landscape photography, patiently waiting for that perfect light at the crack of dawn.