The geographer and photographer Michael Martin explored a variety of different icy and dry deserts for the “Extreme Earth” project. Martin circumnavigated the Earth four times in order to complete the project. The BMW R 1200 GS Adventure accompanied him on his journey.
Martin has now returned from his journey – with a book weighing five kilos and the “Planet Desert” lecture of the same name. The 52-year-old reports from the most extreme zones of the planet and on his experiences with his motorcycle in the desert.
Kickoff in Munich.
Martin presented his multivision show “Extreme Earth” (Planet Wüste) in the BMW Museum in Munich at the end of October. “Today we will be circumnavigating the Earth four times”, announced the photographer before his “Planet Desert” lecture. And he was not exaggerating. The author takes his audience with him on a journey from the North to the South Pole, travelling around the globe four times in the process.
Martin tells stories in his multivision show. Stories that he has experienced together with his travelling companions, friends and family members. 1,600 photographs document Martin’s trip – his encounters, discoveries and challenges.
“Sometimes we had to wait in the car for up to five hours until my father finally had that ONE shot”, reports David Martin, son of the photographer, who accompanied his father on some of his expeditions. But the waiting paid off – Martin depicts the most extreme zones on Earth with his expressive photos, draws parallels and highlights differences.
Michael Martin in an interview with BMW Motorrad.
Martin has been travelling through the desert with the GS for 25 years. In an interview with BMW Motorrad, he speaks of the dangers in the desert, his experiences with his motorcycle and his plans for the future.
What would you like to achieve with your current project?
The first message is that the deserts are part of our planet and should be better protected. Weapons testing is carried out in deserts and oil sources are exploited there. The second message – my project should inspire young people and couch potatoes to see the world. The motorcycle is a wonderful tool for doing so.
You travelled through extreme zones for six years for “Extreme Earth”. What was the most difficult challenge on your travels?
On the one hand, the safety problems obviously – terrorism, rebels and kidnappings. It is very dangerous in the Middle East and in many parts of South Africa. But thankfully the world is big enough and there are safe countries like Namibia, Australia or the USA.
What is driving through the desert on a motorcycle like? Did you have to learn how to do it first?
You do have to learn how to drive a motorcycle in the desert first and it can be dangerous. There is a greater risk of falling in the desert. I can only recommend wearing back protection, good shoes and a decent helmet. Because there are no helicopters to rescue you in the desert. I did have my falls, but didn’t seriously injure myself. It took a while to learn how to drive on sand or dirt tracks.
How did you manage to drive the motorcycle in sandy deserts?
By now I can drive well on sand with the GS. At the beginning sand was a particular challenge for me. Manoeuvring a 400-kilo motorcycle through the sand requires a lot of courage and very good driving skills.
Are you planning a new project yet? If so, what is it?
I will spend the next few years concentrating on my shows. But in 2018 I will be able to think about a new project – and would very happily go on another adventure with my motorcycle.