The Ochockai and Bahadur families check road maps before embarking on their road trip from UAE to Germany. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi Two Abu Dhabi families have embarked on a 35,000-km road trip from the UAE to Germany and back in 40 days [to and fro] covering 16 countries, and avoiding hotel stays and food from restaurants.

"We will be camping on the beachside, riverbanks and villages and cooking food ourselves. It will be a journey alongside nature," the German and Indian families told Gulf News before beginning their trip last week.

"We will be camping mostly at designated campsites offered by private parties. We have a book with information on all such sites", said Nath Bahadur, 49, an Indian, who will travel in a minivan with his wife Usha Nath, 42, son Nikith, 17 and daughter Nikhita, 13.

Eating trend

"We will mostly cook our meals ourselves, unless we want to try out some dish in countries we're passing through — like kebabs in Turkey," said Wolfgang Ochockai, 57 and his wife Meriam, who will travel in another minivan.

The destination is the Ochockais hometown in Germany.

Bahadur, an IT professional and Ochockai, a superintend at IMCC in Mussaffah, have been working together for the past 19 years. Ochockai has been working in Abu Dhabi for more than 25 years.

A smilar trip made by the Ochockais in 2003 inspired, Bahadur to plan the road trip with them.

The intercontinental trip, across Asia and Europe, covers about 16 countries including (in order as per their route plan) Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, Germany and on their return journey Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran before returning to the UAE. The adventurers will be using both land and sea routes.

The trip which started early on Monday (June 14) reached Maan, near Petra in Jordan on Thursday (June 17).

"We took more time in Saudi Arabia, driving about 2,800 km through the vast country," Bahadur said over the phone.

Staying at campsites will help cut down on expenses as it provides basic facilities like bathrooms and parking area, Bahadur said.

The adventurers started their extensive preparations three months ago. The main purchases were two used Chevrolet mini vans specifically bought for the trip. They equipped the vans with basic features such as a television, fridge, freezer and a sofa-cum-bed for four. The power for the accessories such as fridge, freezer and television is provided by a solar panel [costing about Dh1,500] fit ted on the roof.

Ochockai, however, added some more features to his van such as a cupboard, a new TV and a portable stove. The families says the trip is absolutely safe to undertake. "We have the confidence and consider it to be safe," Bahadur said.

"Do you think you are safe when you drivearound a roundabout in the UAE?" Ochockai asked.

16 countries the journey will cover

To Germany: Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, Germany

Return trip: Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey and Iran before coming back to the UAE

Idea for trip struck during campfire

"We decided on undertaking this trip during a camp fire outing in the desert; such crazy ideas come up during such occasions," Bahadur said. He said his family has been making regular trips since they came to the UAE 19 years ago, especially to deserts in the UAE and Oman. His German colleague and family began joining them six years ago. "Then we became so close," Nikith said.

Finding campsites nearby valleys during the trek

"While trekking in the desert , we [the family] settle down nearby a ‘Wadi' [valley for Arabic] in the evening and camp there at night, Bahadur said.

" We [Bahadur, wife and two children] did it during a one week trip to Oman", he said.

 Asked , whether is it safe to camp at night in such remote areas, Bahadur said that fortunately they did not encounter any problems during the trips in the region. "With God's grace we were always safe", he said.

Do you think road trips are a good way of exploring new lands? What challenges do you think prevent most people from travelling long distances by road?