Emilio Scotto: Great Modern Travelers Award & interview

Emilio Scotto - Great Modern Traveler
Emilio Scotto – Great Modern Traveler Awardee

Emilio Scotto joins the Great Modern Travelers

This list of Great Modern Travelers is continuing to grow. It is a list filled with the names of people who have broken the mold in travel in pursuit of accomplishment. In welcoming the latest inductee, Emilio Scotto, I am reminded of this in its purist sense.

There is an something very powerful about all of  their stories. These are no ordinary travelers. Listening to what makes them tick. How they took their chances with life. Embraced the unknown and emblazoned their dreams into the footprints of  time.

It makes me enjoy travel more to see the difference between the people that can; and the people that do.

Read on and discover Emilio Scotto a man that spent 10 years on a motorcycle traveling the world and in doing so rode into the history books of travel!

Who is Emilio Scotto?

Emilio Scotto in the Gobi Desert
Emilio Scotto and the Black Princess in the Gobi Desert

Emilio Scotto was born in 1956 in Argentina. At the age of 30 Emilio left his home and job working as a sales representative for a large pharmaceutical company with $300 to begin an epic 10 year motorcycle ride around the word. Emilio had never traveled out of his country before.

During his ten years atop his 1,100 cc Goldwing named the “Black Princess” Emilio was imprisoned 5 times. Accused and arrested for being a spy for Libyan leader Col. Gadhafi, and again in Rawanda.

During the final 4 years of his journey he married his girlfriend Monica Pino in India. They both then traveled together. In the later portion of his journey Emilio picked up large corporate sponsors and rode into the Guinness book of records for the longest motorcycle ride which spanned 10 years, 279 countries at a total distance of 457,000 miles (735,000 km).

Interview with Emilio Scotto

Your journey began when you were 30 years old with $300. At that time did you ever think you would end up traveling by motorcycle around the world for 10 years, or did you set out to accomplish something else?

Emilio Scotto in China
Emilio in China looking for directions!

I born with the idea of traveling the world, the question wasn’t what and how. As a child adult people asked me what I going to be when I grew up. I told them that I would be a traveler. They laughed explaining that was not a profession, it had to be something else. Time proved that they were wrong.

At 25 the answer to my childhood question, “traveling on what?” comes clear to my head: on a motorcycle. And the other question “How?”, get another simple answer, with a lot of patience and mile by mile.

On January 14, 1985, I set out to cross every country on Earth, but since at that time there was no information of any kind, my calculations of how long will take me were wrong by 100%.  It took me 10 years, 2 month and 19 days to visit the six continents across 279 countries, islands and territories.

You must have met a lot of people on your travels. Is there one unsung hero that helped you on your way that you still remember today, and how did they help you?

Peter was a gold digger I met in the Amazon jungle at the beginning of my journey. An old man who had murdered a man who raped and killed his 9-year old daughter, so he had to escape justice and spend the rest of his life living in the jungle, but with a philosophy of life that made him a kind of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Peter was a great influence for the rest of my journey around the world and my life.

One day, as we navigated the Amazon River, Peter asked me if I would come down in Santarem, a small town halfway between Belen and Manaus. I said no and he asked me why. I said that because I were going to Manaus. Then he said, “you’re not going around the world to see and learn? Yes, I answer. “Then, how do you choose where to stop and where to just pass by?

I got off at Santarem, and over the years I stopped everywhere, trying not to miss any place.

What was your darkest / worst time in your travels?

Emilio Scotto in Cuba
Emilio Scotto in Cuba

Lack of money was always a factor for complications. Also the documentation of my bike was not international, and had no insurance for the bike and for me, so many borders were a tribulation. But surely the worst of my trip was to cross the 55 African countries, with its wars and tribal problematic, and the difficult geography and climatology. Six times in jail: in Chad accused by Mohammad Kaddafi of being a spy. In Liberia accused of going there to kill the president. In Zimbabwe accused of having falsified passport. In Burundi accused of being Rwanda Spy. In Rwanda accused of being Burundi spy. In Sudan accused of not respecting the curfew.

Plus I get malaria in Congo, almost killed during the Somalia war, but even so Africa turned out to be fantastic.

What was your brightest / best time in your travels?

If I could choose a time to re-live I will choose the first day of my 10 long years journey. That day, when I took the first step into the unknown. Same as the first feet’s of Apollo 11 leaving the ground with Armstrong and Aldrin, the first spins of the wheel of my bike when it took off into the world.

Considering the various political climates today along with difficulties in getting independent visas like Russian/China visas. Do you believe such a journey could take place today?

Thank God today is somewhat easier to travel, as the world is more opened. Borders are softened and communications are amazing. You know what happen ahead of you just by push of a button on a computer. Even the vehicles are more modern and efficient. Still there’s always countries that try to complicate everything. In my time some countries were communists, led by nefarious characters who thought they had the truth of life, and therefore those countries were closed. That is over.

After such a prolonged journey, what was it like when you went back home? Did you settle down or are do you still take part in extended travel?

The end of my world tour was somewhat complicated because I could not fit in anywhere. So after a time of great confusion I returned to where I feel comfortable, at home, the routes of the world.

Emilio in Australia
Emilio in Australia

Is there any great travel tip you would like to share with the readers here that’s helped you on your own travels?

  1. Once you closed the suitcase knowing that carry only the essentials, open it and leave half.
  2. The hardest part of a trip, is to break the inertia, the first step.
  3. Take into consideration the advice people give you every place, but do not consider it accurate or definitive. Remember that every human being sees and feels the world in their way.
  4. Follow your instinct.

Many congratulations on your incredible adventure around the world Emilio and on your great modern travelers award!

It’s my honor to received this award.

Many thanks to Emilo for taking the time to translate our conversation to English from his native Spanish.

Today Emilio takes people to exotic places though  www.todoparaviajar.com do check out his facebook Emilio Scotto

The Longest Ride: My Ten-Year 500,000 Mile Motorcycle Journey (hard cover: lots of stories and 300 photographs)

Congratulations! / Felicidades! Emilio on your great achievements in travel, life and as one of the world’s Great Modern Travelers!

Emilio Scotto Great Modern Travelers Award

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17 Replies to “Emilio Scotto: Great Modern Travelers Award & interview”

  1. I always love these stories of people who travel and their insights into travel.I have lived in China for nearly 10 years and usually go travelling twice a year for a few weeks.When i read this story I was left pondering when the time will come and I stop working and just travel until i have had enough.I have truly met the most interesting people travelling and also some of my ex-pat friends over the years have been inspiring.And the best advice is definetely to halve what you have decided to take before you leave and listen to others but not necessarily be influenced by their thoughts on travelling.My only advice would be to always go back to your favourite places and mix up your travelling between travelling solo and with your wife and your kids at times even when your kids are adults.

  2. Such a journey. I always admire people who inspire to take on a quest like this. Alone, and then to find his wife after so many years!

  3. Hey Dave, hope your doing well mate. You know I always enjoy these reads and Emilio is one that I’ve read about over the years during my scouring on the net.

    There’s something inert in all of the great modern travellers that just keeps them moving forward and through all the good and bad times they continue to keep moving. I think it’s a fascinating subject. In a way I think people such as this are so hungry for the journey and the adventure that they basically portion large parts of their life to their passion.

    I can speak from experience when I say that you really have to have a bit of selfishness to remain on track with an endeavour such as Emilio’s and I don’t mean that in a bad way.

    You basically have to give up many things in life and direction all of your funds towards your goal. To complete a journey such as this is not cheap and I am not sure on Emilio’s financial history but I’m sure it has left him penniless at the end despite and sponsorship he may have received. The cost of Visa’s alone would far surpass what many people spend in a lifetime of travel.

    I also enjoyed his attitude towards taking in what others say, but take it on face value and go and find your own answers as everyone see’s the world differently.

    There is one thing that I feel Emilio may have not have faced as much in his time on the road. In years gone by I feel that the overland routes of the world were actually far easier in a bureaucratic sense to achieve. The period from the 60’s to the 80’s saw and endless supply of open borders for the overlander.

    Today, most of Africa has become a nightmare for the overland traveler, with all but a few routes open that can even be considered mildly safe to travel. The conflicts of the middle east have also created somewhat of a nightmare as well. Sorry mate, off on a bit of a tangent there.

    Emilio, if you read this mate. I congratulate you on staying the course and seeing the world in your own way and in your own time.

    A worthy inductee Dave….

    1. Hey Jason, nursing a torn calf muscle but other than that pretty good.

      Fully agree about the selfishness side of things. I think the likes of Shackleton et al highlight this in their final journals. Though they had families etc they still went forth for the goal was what made them what they were.

      I also agree about the current visa/bureaucratic scenario. Indeed a person traveling today had to jump through more hoops than a person 20 years ago. Indeed, even 10 or in some cases 5. China this year being a prime example. It’s easy to zip in and out of some places, SEA, but Africa like you wrote or Russia et al are complete steel walls for independent travel today.

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  6. It’s stories like this that make me also want to get up and go. Thanks for introducing me to Emilio.

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  8. Great to see people like this highlighted, we need more of them in the world

  9. I have a old BMW, wouldn’t be up to this. Not sure how anyone could ride for a week let alone 10 years! The man must have a backbone of steel!

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