x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Have wheels, will travel the world

A US globetrotter adds the UAE to his growing list of countries he has visited in his motorhome.

Larry Hoffman has travelled around the world, driving his motorhome in more than 70 countries.
Larry Hoffman has travelled around the world, driving his motorhome in more than 70 countries.

ABU DHABI // When Larry Hoffman, now 70, bought a motorhome in 2001, he intended to spend a few months touring America and Europe. Eight years on he is still touring, having visited six continents. Yesterday he left the UAE for Saudi Arabia, having called at Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Al Ain which he describes as "one of the nicest towns in the world".

Mr Hoffman's Ford diesel motorhome, complete with queen-size bed, spent one night parked near the Abu Dhabi Marina, and another at the Carrefour car park on Airport Road while he awaited his visa to Saudi Arabia. He has now driven the vehicle more than 200,000km and had it freighted across the world's oceans. "I began in 2001 and drove across the USA and had the motorhome freighted to the UK. From there, I went to France and continued on in Europe for 18 months," he said.

After exploring Europe, he shipped the motorhome back to the US and closed his legal practice there. "I was curious about the rest of the world," he said. From the US, Mr Hoffman spent a year in South America then secured a visa to tour China but before doing so, he travelled down through Europe, to Libya, then cruised down the Nile in Egypt. From there he drove through China to Mongolia before crossing Siberia westwards to return to Germany.

He then shipped the motorhome to Tahiti and went to New Zealand, Australia and Polynesia. The next leg for Mr Hoffman took in Singapore, then Iran and Yemen. "In Iran the officials were very friendly, but they were concerned that I was CIA and wanted to spy on them, but soon enough they became comfortable and allowed me to tour their country," Mr Hoffman said. He and his motorhome had a close call with pirates when they were on a freighter near Somalia, just before the Saudi tanker, Sirius Star, was hijacked.

"As the freighter approached Somalia, two powerboats approached and were circling us but the US Navy intervened," he said. Although a US naval destroyer was some distance away, a radio conversation with the freighter crew convinced the pirates that it was much closer and they left the scene. From North Africa, Mr Hoffman drove through the north of Saudi Arabia to Bahrain, Qatar then Oman and the UAE and is now en route to Saudi Arabia.

"From there I really don't know where I'll go or how long I will stay," Mr Hoffman said. He rarely drives more than five hours a day and keeps his speed down to 70-90 kph. "I have no itinerary and am in no hurry to get anywhere. I take time to smell the roses. I will keep on touring the world, visiting places I have never been to until either I or the motorhome break down," he said. ealghalib@thenational.ae