5 years hitchhiking over 105.000km through 6 continents, Ruta Pachamama

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5 years hitchhiking over 105.000km through 6 continents, Ruta Pachamama

You will agree with me that when you travel, you meet all kinds of people with fascinating stories. In this post I’m going to interview one of those persons so maybe he can inspire you as much as he inspired me. While I was travelling solo around Brazil, I met Julien Landais, a French guy, in Ouro Preto, a charming town in the region of Minas Gerais. By then, Julien had been travelling for three and a half years ONLY hitchhiking and couchsurfing and on the way, he met his girlfriend Nati, Chilean, who joined him in his adventure, Ruta Pachamama.

Ouro Preto - Brazil

Brazil, February 2013

  • How was your first experience hitchhiking?

The first time I thumbed a ride I was in Mexico a few years ago. I was going to the town of Tequila (Jalisco) and as I was unfamiliar with the area, I got off the bus too early. I found myself in a village in the middle of nowhere and the next bus came hours later. That was where I took my thumb out the first time, and a few minutes later I got back an old pick-up driven by a peasant whistling rancheras music with a cap of Los Pumas in his head… At that moment, I could not imagine the thousands of kilometers of hitchhiking that came later.

  • Thousand of kilometers hitchhiking?

Months later, I bought a book for the plane before flying to India. The book tells the story of a French adventurer who sailed all around the world with the sole force of his thumb. I finished the book and said, “I’m going!”. It was my first step toward Ruta Pachamama. I left in September 2010 to that infinite path of our Mother Earth that invites us along the way to meet its inhabitants and their cultures. A journey of more than 105,000 kilometers hitchhiking through six continents. An intense adventure, the best school of life.

  • In how many means of transport have you hithchiked, which ones?

The idea of this trip was only using the thumb as a means of transportation to be in permanent contact with the locals. So in addition to cars, there were sailing ships to cross the oceans, trucks for long distances, planes to go to greet the Eskimos on the shores of the Arctic Ocean, buses throughout Latin America, cargo ship to reach Iquitos, carts pulled by donkeys in Nicaragua, ferries in New Zealand, even taxis in Colombia or icebreakers to explore the Antarctic.

Hitchhiking - Canada

Canada, August 2011

  • What would you say to all those people who say that hitchhiking is dangerous?

We live in a society where fear is a lucrative and a general manipulative means. I remember one time in Canada, we were hitchhiking with a friend near Banff and a girl stopped and came to talk to us with the idea of taking us, but she was too afraid to carry two hitchhikers, because what most of the American population imagines is that we are serial killers, thanks to the TV. So I showed my magic book, a booklet with photos of the trip and my encounters that allows me to break fears and share stories of my adventure with people that I meet. She also wanted to see my passport, she took a picture and sent it to her husband. “If anything happens to me, he knows!” She told us. And she took us for a few hundred kilometers.

As it is said in Brazil: Gentileza gera Gentileza!” One attracts the energy he has. And the possibility of meeting someone with good vibes is much bigger than the possibility of encountering a person in a bad mood.

Penguins - Antarctic

Antarctica, December 2013

  • Have you come to see yourself sometime in a dangerous situation?

The interesting thing about hitchhiking is the adventure. Five minutes before, you never know where or with whom you’ll be! All kinds of people can take you! You can spend an hour with an ambassador and five minutes later go for two hours with a coffee producer or guys who have guns to defend their business… While travelling there have been some moments more tense than others, those moments when your heart is crazy because in the atmosphere there is a strange, heavy, dangerous energy… But as I say, you learn to handle it and go away from that! Common sense and intuition are your best friends.

  • Is it easier to hitchhike alone or with other people, why?

I have hitchhiked with several friends from different countries and I think it just the same. Although, hitchhiking with a girl can give some drivers a sense of security. I see that hitchhiking is like a game of seduction. You have a couple of seconds to seduce in a certain way the driver of the car that is going to take you! Alone or with people, the game is the same.

  • When you started travelling with Nati, did the situation regarding hitchhiking and couchsurfing change a lot?

I met Nati through Couchsurfing. She hosted me in Valparaiso, Chile, and after a while, we decided to travel together using only the strength of our thumbs to advance and Couchsurfing to share our daily life with the locals. The vibes of the trip were the same with her. Although, it is not easy for a couple (who don’t even know each other well yet) travelling this way for long! You need more privacy when you are travelling with your girlfriend than alone, and Couchsurfing is sharing more time with people who host you than with your girlfriend… Everywhere, people treated us very well! Many thanks to everyone for that!

Hitchhiking - Guyana

Guyana, May 2014

  • What advice would you give to people who are now considering doing a trip like this?

Be open to people! If you love people, they will give it back to you.

  • What is the best thing about nomadic life, and the worst?

Travelling is the best way to learn new things and somehow break the everyday routine. One of the nicest things you can do in life is that! But the most important thing is to do what you love! If you like football, then play with the ball. I like travelling, so I travel…

The most difficult thing of nomadic life? The goodbyes…

  • What have you learned about life during this time?

That kind of question comes with a bottle of wine! Ha! Travelling teaches many things… In my case, what I most retain is that in this life anything is possible! And when you want something, you have to go and get it because nobody is going to bring you all served! Another very important thing, one becomes aware that the borders do not exist! We are all the same, all chasing the same dreams! Love, Health, Peace, a Decent Living, Happiness…

  • Can you imagine yourself someday living your whole life in one place?

Having a home, a base, a “Houston” that is mine, with a neighborhood life, I do want that. But I will always travel! I still have a lot to learn! I want to travel through Africa…

  • Tell us one of the thousands of anecdotes of your trip.

I was travelling through Haiti, in February 2011, just after the terrible earthquake. Many cities were in ruins, there was a very strong cholera epidemic an corrupt elections were on its way… An explosive cocktail! Still, in l’Ile a Vache, life continued with smiles and good vibes! Here you can see a video where my friend Casto went up to the coconut tree to give us nice and cold coconut water…

  • Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

In 10 years and all my life, I see myself happy and free!

If you want to know more about this incredible story, you can follow Julien through his Facebook page: Ruta Pachamama

Many thanks to Julien for the interview. It was a pleasure to share those talks about life with him, Nati, Pablo and Letizia while drinking wine and eating pão de queijo. I wish you all the best in this life!

Ana Marco


  • Julie @ Girl on the Move

    What an amazing story…thank you for sharing! I imagine that after 5 years and 6 continents he has seen and experienced so many amazing things! Glad I found you through GWT!

    06/11/2015 at 2:08 pm
    • Ana
      Ana Marco

      Thank you for reading it, Julie! He was such an inspiration for me, that’s why I wanted to share his story 🙂 GWT is an amazing group 😉

      07/11/2015 at 8:47 am