“I want to see the world with my own eyes, not on a screen”
By Amanda Palis September 7, 2023
With more than 80,000 km and having seen fifty countries, Swiss Robby Knecht has managed to reach Suriname with his motorcycle. “I want to see the world with my eyes and not on a screen, and I also just love driving,” Robby says enthusiastically.
He is sitting by the swimming pool at Albergo/Alberga, his Ural, a motorcycle with trailer from the Second World War, is safely stored. He arrived in Suriname on Monday evening after driving from Brazil to Guyana. The world traveler will leave for French Guiana on Thursday to meet old friends and also pick up parts for his hum. “The bauxite road was nice to drive, but it wasn’t really friendly to my moped,” says Robby, laughing. But these challenges have become normal for him now, because he has been traveling the world for more than a year and a half now.
Before starting his world tour, he traveled through Switzerland with his Ural and two daughters. Shortly afterwards he left Geneva, Switzerland and started his world tour in Europe. His inspiration to travel the world on a motorcycle came from a French-American motorcyclist who decided to travel the world a few months before his own departure. “I thought then that this guy had ‘the right idea to enjoy life’. Because what’s better than riding your motorcycle on small village roads, through beautiful landscapes and mountains and seeing the world,” says Robby.
Traveling around with as little as possible and living from day to day is a wonderful experience for Robby. He prefers to drive through dirt roads or mountains to get to know the landscape. “I’m not a fan of driving through big cities because there’s a lot of pollution and all the exhaust fumes. Riding your motorcycle in nature is ideal for me,” says Robby. Despite the beautiful places and different countries, you sometimes encounter some challenges when traveling, but Robby also has a very ‘relaxed’ mindset about that. “If you have a moped breakdown or are unable to arrange a place to sleep, that is no problem. Traveling with the minimum you learn not to stress about things. There is always someone who can help you, people are always ready to help travelers everywhere, no matter where you are in the world. People always want to help.”
People think I’m crazy
In 2022, when he decided to make a world tour on his Ural, Robby sold all the belongings he had. “With the sale of my apartment in Switzerland, I will hopefully be able to travel for 10 years. Depends where you go of course. Traveling through America does cost a bit, but in Turkey, Venezuela and in such countries the costs are still affordable.”
People often think he’s crazy when he tells them where he went. “For example, when I told people I was going to travel to Venezuela, People told me I’m crazy! Because of the political and social unrest, but I didn’t have any problem. Of course you don’t unnecessarily put yourself in dangerous situations, you also have to deal with them smartly.” That’s why he has three golden rules when he travels: “I don’t go into a bar alone, always with someone because I just don’t want to get in trouble. I never drive in the evenings, only during the day because if you break down at night you can’t see what is there and I rarely drive through big cities because that’s where crime can be found.”
Another of Robby’s extreme trips is riding motorcycles during the winter in Canada in weather conditions of almost -50 degrees Celsius. “I had just ended up at the North Pole, but I made it to the border with the North Pole. Once again people thought I was crazy, because no one rides their motorcycle in the winter. I even froze one of my fingers while taking photos, but luckily I didn’t have to take it off,” he notes, laughing. He understands that traveling like this is not for everyone, but for himself he sees no other way of seeing the world. “Getting to know the different landscapes, nature and people is just beautiful to see.”
Traveling around the world on a motorcycle from the Second World War is not easy, especially because it has a trailer attached to it. “Your whole body is in motion and demands that you be in condition to travel. Fortunately, I am a sportsman and I can handle it.” Robby is a lover of extreme sports such as skydiving, diving and motorcycle racing, which is perhaps why he braves the challenges he encounters on his journey. “In addition to extreme sports, I also worked in the police as ‘special forces’ for more than 15 years. Every now and then I still do freelance work as a private investigator and I sometimes get assignments to follow people worldwide, so I sometimes earn something to finance my travel,” says Robby.
His next destination is French Guiana, from there he goes to Brazil by boat and takes in part of the Amazon during his trip. He will then travel to Argentina and Chile where he will meet his daughter. “My daughter is now backpacking alone through some Latin American countries. She really is a natural at her pace,” says Robby proudly. It is also not clear where he will go next, he is quite nonchalant about it and does not plan much ahead. “There is no rhyme or reason; I don’t travel in a straight line, but I never decide weeks in advance or almost never book a place to sleep in advance, because I often don’t know if I will arrive on the planned day. We’ll see, what’s important is that I can drive, travel and see the world.”