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Gary & Monika Wescott - The Turtle Expedition

Gary & Monika Wescott - The Turtle Expedition

2023, Adventure

When Gary Wescott, creator of The Turtle Expedition, Unltd., left South Lake Tahoe in 1972 in his well-prepared 1967 109 Land Rover heading towards South America, he had no idea where his trail would lead. He was following John Steinbeck’s motto from Travels with Charlie: “Don’t take a Trip, Let the Trip take you”.

Along the way, Gary met Swiss-born Monika Mühlebach. For the past 46 years, they have been discovering many parts of the world while chronicling their journeys in various popular 4x4 and travel magazines in the US, including Off-Road, Four Wheeler, Trailer Life, MotorHome, Truckin', Truck Trend, Diesel Power, 8-Lug HD Trucks, Power Stroke Registry, Overland Journal and Turbo Diesel Registry, and similar publications all over the globe. Overland Journal Magazine called them “Living Legends”!

Gary and Monika's build-up and outfitting of their series of adventure vehicles called “The Turtles” was carefully watched by dedicated readers and industry leaders alike. Especially the latest version, The Turtle V, with its European-style camper, sparked a lot of interest as the newest segment of SEMA’s automotive industry was born: Overland Vehicles. What started out as a personal adventure soon turned into an unexpected leadership status as the articles struck a chord with many readers who realized they too can follow their own dreams, whatever they may be. It also gave Gary & Monika the opportunity to educate and encourage everyone to take care of our environment, not only in the backcountry to avoid trail closures but everywhere one travels.

Are they ever afraid? The answer is no. The fact that 99.5% of the people in this world are good people who are concerned about raising their children to adulthood, clothing and feeding them, having a roof over their heads, and hopefully helping them improve their lives has been enlightening. They learned through personal experiences that in truth, “Our hearts beat the same”.

During their extensive travels across Eurasia following the Silk Road, they realized the need, once again, for a better education for children in remote third-world countries they have explored. After creating the DonorBox on their website,, they have been able to sponsor several girls from the beautiful Pamir mountains in Tajikistan. Three of them are already attending universities, one with a full scholarship. These students are very aware of the concept of “PAYING IT FORWARD” to eventually not only help themselves, their families, and their communities but also to help another young student to pass on their legacy.

The Turtle Expedition - Major Achievements: 

1988-89: 50,000 miles/14 months circumnavigating South America.

1983: First article in Off-Road magazine on Bob Chandler's Bigfoot Monster Truck – a Star was born.

1984-2020: SCORE Show, APAA, SEMA show appearances.

1980s: Participation in the Baja 1000, Baja 500, and Mint 400 races as co-drivers with Don Adams, Larry Schwacofer & Michael Nesmith for Off-Road Magazine feature articles.

1986-1990: Journalist in the prestigious International Camel Trophy Ralley in Australia, Madagascar, the Amazon, and Siberia.

Mid 1980s: First Four Wheeler Magazine coverage of every major 4x4 or Off Road event in the US, (Moab Jeep Safari, All-4-Fun, Gravelrama, Sierra Trek, The Rubicon Jeepers Jamboree, etc.), which helped increase enrollment in 4WD Clubs by individuals and families.

1988-89: 50,000 miles/14 months circumnavigating South America.

1996-1998: Expedition around the World. First foreign couple to travel across Russia from the Pacific to the Atlantic including Siberia in the dead of winter on the infamous Road of Bones and driving 700 miles up the frozen Lena River at temperatures below -80°F. 2003-2008: Between major expeditions, they lead several backroad adventure tours into Mexico’s Copper Canyon and backroads of Baja California, teaching people with 4x4 Sportsmobiles and other well-prepared vehicles how to travel safely in foreign countries.

2009-2023: Participation in several Overland Expos where their current expedition vehicle, The Turtle V, was on display and as presenters, teaching people How to Stay Healthy and Happy on the Road.

2013/2014: Second expedition across Eurasia and around the World, following the Silk Road from Portugal to China, and continuing through Mongolia, Eastern Siberia, and South Korea; two years/40,000 miles/26 countries.

2023: Packing now and preparing for their departure for southern parts of South America, following once again, John Steinbeck’s motto from Travels with Charlie: “Don’t take a Trip, Let the Trip take you”.

Because of the Pandemic, their planned departure date for South America was delayed. They took the time to drive to the popular Overland Expo in Bend, OR where their expedition truck, The Turtle V, was on display. The Wescotts presented two seminars, participated in various round table discussions, and sat down for a podcast interview with Scott Brady, publisher of Overland Journal. Many readers who had followed The Turtle Expedition for decades were excited to meet Gary and Monika and wanted to know where they were going next. Well into the night, there was a steady stream of visitors curious about their vehicle and lifestyle. 

Over the past few months, the Wescotts have been posting updates on various social media channels and their website: Two technical feature articles are currently being published by Overland Journal.

Since 1972 when Gary drove off in his Land Rover headed for South America, four-wheel drive and overland travel have been part of his life. The Wescotts' plans for the imminent future involve shipping The Turtle V to South America to explore the interior of this diverse continent, including the Bolivian salt flats (Salar de Uyuni), revisiting Tierra del Fuego and traversing the continent from West to East among many other items on their bucket list.