On 14 February, Miroslav Zikmund celebrated his 100th birthday. The Czech traveller, writer, photographer and journalist is probably mainly known for his world adventures with his long-time friend and colleague Jiří Hanzelka (1920-2003), which included interests in foreign countries, nature, travel writing and mostly adventure stories about their trips.
Together they wrote numerous articles and books about their adventures and recorded countless reports about the countries and places they visited including 4 feature films and 147 documentaries, shorts and TV films.
Miroslav Zikmund was born in Plzeň, Czehoslovakia on 14th February 1919. His first longer journey was to Sub-Carpathia as a teenager. After graduation in 1938 he attended business high-school where he became friend with Mr. Hanzelka. In 1953 he married opera solist singer Eva Mašková. After two long trips with a Tatra T87 and T805 he was not allowed to publish officially until 1989. After 1990 he visited Japan, Australia, New Zeland. He also joined an expedition in Siberia and in 2000’s smaller visits in USA, Maldives and Sri Lanka. In 1993 he recieved the Egon Erwin Kisch award for literature, and the the 1st class order of the Tomas Garrigue Masaryk badge. Now he lives in Zlín, Czech Republic where he has a Honorary doctorate at the University of Tomáš Baťa.
With Tatra 87 (1947-1950) Adventures in Africa and South America. More than 700 reports have been broadcasted by radio. On this trip they took a great amount of photographs and recorded a number of film material for documentaries and films released later. After an accident with their car in Libia, they rested on the top of Cheops Pyramid in Egypt, and climbed the Kilimanjaro mountain. They even met Pygmies in the Congo rainforest.
From Cape Town they sailed to Buenos Aires. In Rio de Janeiro on Copacabana beach, Zikmund almost drowned while swimming in the ocean, in Ecuador they were considering emigrating from Czechoslovakia.
With Tatra 805 (1959-1964) Adventures in Asia and Oceania
Second trip was accomplished with two modified trucks T805. Again they collected materials for documentaries and visited countries like Turkey, Syria, Pakistan, India, Ceylon, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Iraq or Japan. Also traveled trough big part of Soviet Union, but couldn’t visit China due to strict regime of Mao Ce-Tung.
Some statistics and records
The adventures of Hanzelka and Zikmund lasted for 1290 days and they spent 9,5 years away from home. During these trips through Africa, South America, Oceania and Asia they visited 114 countries and drove cca 111.000 kilometers – including 60.000 km with a Tatra 87. On average, they rode/walked around 80 kilometres each day, from which 50 kilometers have been done in vehicles.
The highest place they managed to ride up with the T87 was the Kilimanjaro mountain (4.860 m) and continuing on foot they climbed the mountain itself to its highest point (nearly 6.000m) where the Czechoslovakian flag was hoisted for the first time ever. Northest point of they adventure was the Bohmholm Island in Baltic Sea. They were also among the first crew that completed the Nubian Desert.
Happy 100th birthday for this incredible milestone. We want to wish Mr. Zikmund many more healthy and active years.
Featured image illustration by Miroslav Vomáčka – www.vendyatelier.cz