If someone calls somebody a legend, then it is absolutely true for Jiří Hanzelka and Miroslav Zikmund. The H + Z pair can be placed alongside the largest travellers on our planet.
How did they find each other?
In their youth, they both studied at a business college, which they completed first in 1946 due to the closure of universities during World War II. Upon successful completion of these studies, these two fresh engineers began looking for a vehicle to make their dreams come true. They dared to address the leadership of Tatra, who used their idea to promote their products and provide future travellers with a silver Tatra 87. On their first journey with a tandem H + Z set in April 1947 to Africa and South America.
The purpose of the first trip was to create and strengthen trade relations of the then Czechoslovakia with other countries and to promote domestic products. The travellers were provided with the necessary finance by writing reports, photographing and filming. First they travelled all of Africa from north to south. The road was not easy at all, as there were hardly any roads. Thirsty in the desert, an angry hippo chased Hanzelka and he lived through malaria. They transported themselves with Tatra from Cape Town by boat to South America. Their experiences included not only Brazilian beaches, but also encounters with Indians and skull hunters. They returned home in the autumn of 1950, when Czechoslovakia was completely different.
The goal was Asia and they set out on the road in April 1959 with two Tatra 805 cars in a travel arrangement. The professional expedition was to last five and a half years, and both travellers left their wives and children at home. They focused mainly on filming and travelled through India, Indonesia, Japan and came home again through the Soviet Union. Of all the states they passed, they drew up so-called special reports focused on the economy and politics.
As economics engineers, they were interested in the economic situation in the USSR, but their view of Soviet economic problems was not enthusiastic among Soviet and Czechoslovak officials. Upon their return, they rode a wave of popularity, working on lots of materials, but their enthusiasm was thwarted in 1968 when they stood on the reform side. At the time of normalization, they earned a punishment in the form of a travel ban and publication.
Benefit of H + Z
Together they wrote many books about their travel, shot thousands of photos and made a lot of films. Their fame goes beyond borders. Jiří Hanzelka died in 2003 and Miroslav Zikmund celebrated his 100th birthday on February 14, 2019.
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