Eco-touring thru Asia


Two men created a Guinness World Record with their six-month world tour in car (Volkswagen Caddy EcoFuel) that runs on natural gas by covering around 45,000 km starting in October last year. But their journey didn’t end with the record. Adventurous Germans Rainer Zietlow and Franz Janusiewicz were spurred on to another journey around Asia in the same car.

The world tour primarily intended to prove Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) as a feasible and more eco-friendly alternative to petrol and diesel, informs Zietlow, who also holds a Guinness World Record for driving a car (VW Touareg SUV) with his expedition team to an altitude of 6,081 meters above sea level on slopes of over 6,800 meter Ojos del Salado, the highest volcano on earth on the Chile-Argentine border, in 2005.

The two travellers are in Kathmandu as part of their ‘EcoFuel Asia Tour’ that began on September 17 from Berlin. They have already covered 20,000 km through various places, including Moscow, Turkey, and (through flight) Delhi.

The EcoAsia travel is also a test of a new storage material Basostor, powered by nanotechnology, which they say increases the maximum range of CNG Caddy by 30 per cent. Nine additional gas tanks have also been installed that allows them to travel 3,000 km without refuelling their car. They will only be using petrol at very high altitudes in Tibet.

“I hope to see CNG have a better future as it lessens pollution in cities.” Zietlow says, adding, “We can do away with pollution to a good extent using natural gas. India has being doing well by implementing CNG use in some of its major cities, like Delhi.”

Their visit to Nepal has also roped in their deep fascination for her denizens. Zietlow, who came to Nepal only once last year for mountaineering, shares, “I am a big fan of Nepal. The people’s friendliness surprises me. Unlike some places, people here also maintain the local and religious integrity even as they accept foreigners.”

His companion Janusiewicz adds, “The people here are very friendly. It’s really nice to be here.”

He is happy that people here don’t mind being photographed. “Of course, some of them charge money, but that’s okay,” he adds with a chuckle.

Khumbi-Ila, a travel and trekking agency, is coordinating their stay in Nepal.

Their journey also gathers significance by its charitable cause. For every kilometre travelled, Zietlow will donate 20 cents to the children in SOS Children’s Villages in Nepal and Tibet. On October 26, he will hand over 2,000 Euro to SOS Children Village here.

From Kathmandu, they will zoom to Lhasa, then to Shanghai, and then following the eastern Chinese coast through Vietnam, end their journey in Bangkok.

“Travelling to China will be important as its role in the world’s future environment development is crucial, and the country is also looking after options,” Zietlow explains. After this, they plan to do another “more adventurous” project in Europe.