BOLDiscovery founders and co-travellers for life — Jupp Schmit from Berlin and Nandita Nanda from Bengaluru–met for the first time while pursuing their master’s degree in the UK, and embarked upon a journey that has only gotten better and adventure-filled with time. Their love for travel and preference for low-budget trips made them couch-surf, wild camp and hitch-hike across Europe. And it was only after slogging in their respective corporate jobs for four years in London, that they took a leap of faith and decided to become co-travellers forever. Let’s dive deep into their pool of experiences in this exclusive tête-à-tête. Text by Bindu Gopal Rao; photographs by Jupp Schmitt and Nandita Nanda
What does travel mean to you?
Travel is one of the greatest teachers. At first, it leaves you speechless and then, turns you into an avid storyteller. For us, it is about discovery, adventure and learning. Inevitably, it pushes you out of your comfort zone, allowing you to truly discover yourself and develop as a person. Travel is not a vacation, but a lifestyle that takes a unique mindset to achieve. It is a roller-coaster ride with loads of ebbs and flows and learning, which makes it crucial to not just ride it but also enjoy the entire experience.
When did you decide to take up travelling full time, and how were you able to manage your finances?
We always had the urge to pursue long-term travel, even before we had met. But the idea seriously came to life only about two years before execution. In order to finance our travels, we used our savings, and also simultaneously kept doing volunteering jobs through Workaway. Despite travelling on a budget, we rarely compromised on experiences, because we always travelled sustainably and closely monitored our expenditure, we even ate good self-cooked meals and learnt how to cut on unnecessary costs.
Can you throw light on some of your unique travel experiences?
We started with Malawi, a lesser-known country in Africa, where for the first month we stay in an eco-lodge at the edge of a wildlife game reserve and dedicated the second month to travelling local style along the 600–kilometre-long Lake Malawi. After this, we drove from Germany to the south of Italy and camped through the entire trip. We then flew to Colombia where we scouted for our campervan until we found our colourful home — the inimitable Don Carr — where we lived and inched across to the southern tip of the continent over the next nine months. We circled for three months around Colombia’s tropical and lush green landscapes –– from the virgin Caribbean coastline through charming colonial-styled towns and picturesque gorges and canyons where we even tried multiple adventure sports. During our stay in the valley of Quinine, we also took part in an authentic Ayahuasca ceremony with a renowned and old shaman of that valley. It was the most alluring spiritual experience of our lives and a great start to our wonderful journey through the continent.
With our dose of the tropical climate, we then crossed over to Peru via Ecuador. For the next two months, Peru offered us extremely dramatic and changing terrains. First, from the north, we drove through the Peruvian desert and along the rough Pacific coast buzzing with exotic sea life. We then headed to the Amazon Rainforest and camped there for a week, where we had some unforgettable moments such as swimming alongside pink river dolphins (boto).
We then drove for weeks at heights above 15,000 feet through the barren Andean mountains and volcanic regions to arrive at the Inca capital Cusco and its surrounding Sacred Valley, Machu Pichu, Rainbow Mountains and Lake Titicaca. At these extreme heights and routes unknown to most tourists we saw unique geysers gushing with sulphur water and several unique calcium pools of turquoise water.
Finally, for the last four months, we crisscrossed between Argentina and Chile, driving through the driest place on Earth — the deserts of San Pedro de Atacama, then over the dried salt lakes and through the red Rocky Mountains, and wine regions of Argentina. Then came the fjords of Chile, which brought with it more marine wildlife and unique marble cave formations. Following this, we arrived at the much-awaited Patagonia where we dedicated a good amount of time in exploring and hiking through the glaciers.
Lastly, we crossed over the very windy cape of the continent –– Tierra Del Fuego (The land of Fire) — and were swept away by the Antarctic wildlife and landscapes. Here, we got a chance to spend many days alone amidst a large colony of 2,50,000 nesting Magellanic Penguins — a rare and magical experience.
Tell us about some of your key learnings from all your travel experiences.
We met a wide range of wonderful travellers from around the world, each with their own unique and exciting stories to share. Meeting like-minded travellers dispelled some of the myths of travel we earlier had, and taught us that travel can be for anyone. Moreover, taking a break from the capitalistic ways of life and society, and travelling with just bare essentials taught us how little we need to live comfortably. It helped us figure out our likes, dislikes, moods, strengths, weaknesses, priorities and goals.
Tell us about BOLDiscovery.
BOLDiscovery is a travel platform we created to showcase our journey, learnings and discoveries. Its primary aim is to inspire other people to undertake a life of exploration, dispel the myths related to travel that deter them from achieving their dreams, help them understand the countless benefits of travel, and thus take a bold step forward. And for those still not interested in travel, we hope they can enjoy seeing the world through our lens.
What is your advice to people who want to travel but are unable to quit their jobs?
It’s not as hard as it looks and there will always be a reason in life to not take out the time you deserve. If you are unable to quit your job, it’s okay! That doesn’t mean you close the door to exploration. Use whatever time you have, and explore a single region near you. Start by going local, and you’ll be surprised by how much there is to explore and learn right in your backyard.
How has travel changed for you as a couple, post the pandemic?
When the pandemic worsened in March, we were in the last month of our trip in Chile and had to immediately abort and fly to our respective countries to avoid being stranded. We aim to be considerate and respectful of the situation. Hence, we will avoid international travel as of now.