My name is Piotr Wilkowiecki and you can just call me Peter.
I’m a traveler, writer and designer behind the Explorer’s Atlas.
My life’s passions are adventure travel and sharing my fascination for exploring the world through image and writing.
Welcome to my blog!
I’m here to show you awesome travel destinations, inspire you with the original Explorer’s Maps, and share my travel experience along with tips, fun facts and infographics.
If you love traveling and you’re looking for doses of daily curiosities about mysterious places, motivation for living your life more fully or just tips on how
to plan your next journey - you’ve found the right place!
My mission is to keep you amazed, open your mind to incredible wonders
of the world and, hopefully, to show you things you’ve never seen or heard about.
Dive in and embark on the journey with me!
Meet Peter - creator of the Explorer's Atlas
Preparaparations for Ganesh's birthday celebrations in Haridwar, India
I'm currently reading...
What’s the Explorer’s Atlas?
It’s an original map design, which is all about capturing awesome travel destinations, curious facts, travel routes and documenting fascinating observations from different corners of the globe.
The graphical concept is simplistic and infographic. Use of color is minimalistic and usually each map features just a single tone to maintain its modern look.
The Explorer's Atlas wold map in detail
The character of the maps, however, is rooted in the nostalgia for old cartography and mysteries of the exploration age. The maps are filled with travel routes and itineraries, small graphics and places of interest featuring short descriptions.
Explorer’s Atlas is all about keeping you inspired, entertained and open to the world’s wonders, while maintaining an elegant look on your wall.
The Explorer's Atlas mounted on the living-room wall
Why Adventure Travel?
Since I was a kid I've been brimming with curiosity about the world - with head full of questions, hyperactive, I wanted to see every nook of the planet. So when I turned 18
and went to college, I promised myself to spend all of the money I manage to save up
Hiking around Matterhorn, Zermat, Switzerland
Kitesurfing in lagoons of El Gouna, Egypt
Every summer and winter I would either backpack across Europe, Asia and America, or, if the condition of my pocket allowed me, I would continue learning skills that fascinated me - that's how I got into diving, kitesurfing, climbing and hiking,
all while touring beautiful places.
Scubadiving in Canary Islands, Spain
Scubadiving in Canary Islands, Spain
Ice climbing in Tatra Mountains, Poland
I've traveled to over 30 destinations around the world and the journey has been
a life-changing experience. On the way I've been lucky to meet fascinating people,
I challanged myself, I made mistakes, had lots of fun, seen incredible wonders
and opened my mind.
I want to share all of that with you and inspire you to set out on journeys of your own!
How I Started Traveling and Designing Maps?
When I graduated with masters degree in business and economics I was driven by a conviction that it's time to grow up; that from now on, life should become more serious, less hectic and exciting. I expected my days of travel and adventure to be over except for a few days of vacation from work.
I got a job at venture capital: fundraising and supporting startups, helping young entrepreneurs grow their companies. The environment was dynamic and filled with visionary people. The work was engaging, stressful and well paid.
As I climbed the ladder of my career and years passed - on the outside, I was successful... but deep inside I felt trapped, suffocating. The scary part was that I didn't really know why. Soon, I found myself stressed out, lost and depressed.
I knew I had to change something, but I didn't know where to start…
I realized that I want to take risks, be more like the startup founders I was meeting across the conference room table: independent, courageous, chasing their dreams.
But most of all, I wanted to travel, travel a lot!
Zuzia and I
My wife Zuzia, who is an artist, encouraged me to focus on my true passion and follow my intuition. She inspired me not to be afraid of my creativity and to look for ways of connecting my passion with the skills I’ve gathered over the years.
One evening, we were going down the memory lane together with Zuzia's brother, Michal, a graphic designer. While watching photographs from our travels we stumbled upon an album from my journey to India.
The first page featured an inscription, a quote form one of our favourite travel films.
It said simply:
"This Is An Adventure..."
“This is an adventure” – Steve Zissou
Stunned, we stared at it for a moment in anticipation, as if something was about to happen. Then we flipped the page and saw a hand-drawn map filled with travel notes, itineraries, and miniature photos from the journey.
We all just gasped: "Wooow!"
Finding it again, felt like a grand discovery. How could we forget about it?
After another long pause, Michal said: "Guys, we should design maps..."
And that's how the idea for Explorer's Atlas was born.
We understood that it was our time to stop dreaming and start doing!
One of our first brainstorming sessions, designing maps
Explorer's Atlas Began on the Kickstarter
We wanted to design beautiful wall prints, unique maps combining graphics with captions of fun, informative writing about different corners of the world.
We wanted it to became an ultimate curiosity guide, decorative wall piece for every traveler, a space for both your travel memories, as well as inspirations to keep on traveling.
The idea soon materialized into this:
The beginnings were difficult and humble... When I finally decided to quit my job
to start a venture of my own, my family and friends thought I went crazy...
But I was aware of the risks and knew there would be sacrifices. Most importantly,
I wanted to chase my dreams at all costs anyway.
We structured a plan, drafted an initial budget and gathered up our savings to start-up! During long debates followed by prototyping and a production planning phase, we figured that best way to promote the maps and raise funds for such an unconventional, creative project would be via crowdfunding.
Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet. It's usually reward-based, which means that the money contributions from project supporters are exchanged for a ready product after the campaign is finished. Project creators raise funds, promote and pre-sell their product without necessity to incurre debt to start-up.
We set up a company, a small design studio, and after few months of preparation we rolled out with our campaign on the Kickstarter:
The campaign turned out to be an interesting challange and an enormous success!
It required from us using all of the skills we gathered; besides graphic & product design
we had to plan and carry out all the marketing, PR activity, strategy and financial planning, video production, product photography, logistics and much more...
We've tested our concept, people loved the idea and the product. New orders followed and our audience of travelers and inveterate dreamers grew as well!
Explorer's Atlas at paper design fairs
Founding of the Explorer’s Atlas marked a beginning of a new exciting journey, allowing me to combine love for travel with an urge to become an independent creator.
It hasn't been easy since, but most importantly, it made me feel like I was in the right place at last: I've started doing what I was passionate about and I traveled again!
--> Look where I went next <-- link do Borneo post
Enjoying sunrise on Padar, Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia
Explorer's Atlas gets published
by Harper Collins
Several months after the campaign, we've experienced another amazing surprize -
a call from an acclaimed publishing house in the UK. They offered us to write and design a world atlas based on our original Explorer's Atlas concept!
Dreams really come true..
We started right away, and after 6 months of work, produced 120 entirely new map pages which compiled the book. The atlas was ready and published in the UK shortly before Christmas 2017!
Another few months later, Explorer's Atlas was shortlisted by 'Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards' in category 'Photography & Illustrated Travel Book of the Year 2018'.
I felt acknowledged and was amazed at how things have unfolded.
The Story Takes A Hard Turn...
After I got back from the awards ceremony in London, something unexpected happened again, but this time, the surprize put me in a really dark place.
I was in a middle of my regular climbing practice, when I lost focus for a brief moment, made a basic mistake while belaying and took an 8m fall to the floor.
I was alive but my legs were completely crushed.. It wasn't sure if I was going to fully recover... I felt as if my world collapsed. Priorities change in moments like these - your plans, dreams and ambitions are put on hold...
It took ten titanium implants, an auto-transplant from my pelvis to my heel and six months of recovery, until my feet could touch the ground so I could start learning
how to walk again..
My feet and new titanium parts, six months after the surgery
At that time I wasn't sure to what extent I would regain overall fitness. I dreamed of being able to go and see the mountains, to travel and feel that sense of freedom in
my heart again. I realised that I could have lost it forever...
But I was not going to give up easily. Not after surviving a potentialy deadly fall.
I focused on my recovery and dedicated tons of time and effort into physiotherapy... After 10 months I started walking again!
One of the last weeks on wheelchair, 5th month after surgery
What's Next? Why Share?
After I stood back on my feet, I felt unstoppable. While I was still in recovery, we've managed to get the Atlas translated into 3 foreign editions published in Germany, Spain and Poland!
Explorer's Atlas, Spanish Edition: Atlas, Para Curiosos Insaciables
I looked back at the my fascinating travels and asked myself if the ones that are ahead of me are going to be different from the ones before the accident?
The experience of isolation during months when I couldn't move from my bed made me realize that all of my trips, as amazing as they were, were sort of 'private' journeys...
I realised that I needed and wanted to share my stories and travel experiences with like-minded indivduals
Working with maps and the album encouraged me to keep on writing, to start the Explorer's Atlas website and this blog!
What keeps me going?
curiosity, thirst for knowledge and wisdom
fascinating people around the globe
risks, challenges and adventures
search for bliss, awe, self-improvement
So.. What's Adventure Travel Really All About?
"Fuck the itinerary" The Darjeeling Limited
Spontaneity: your mind loves surprises, even if it doesn't want to admit it!
Getting to know yourself: discovering and exceeding your own limits
Opening yourself to new experiences: challenging your views and learning new skills
Embracing differences among people and cultures to notice beauty in the odds
It does NOT have to be about doing extreme, expensive or jeopardous things
I want to share with you my philosophy of traveling, and how I changed my life by stepping on an exciting but difficult path of exploring my dreams and life through traveling.
Exploring Buddhist monasteries in Alchi, Ladakh, Northern India
Our memories are like stories. And there are no great stories without the element of surprise. So live your story, step off the beaten path and embrace the unknown!
I want to show you:
How to travel on budget without missing meaningful experiences
How to plan and prepare for travel while maintaining the sense of adventure (tips)
How to break outside your comfort zone while remaining safe and healthy during trips
Ways to keep yourself inspired when you’re not traveling (film, books, maps)
My original maps and graphics inspired by travels