Though he is only 20, Sophomore Mickey Mittermeier has traveled from Madagascar to Antarctica. He has come across many people, including everything from remote indigenous people in South America, Africa and Asia, to famous personalities like
Harrison Ford and Adrian Peterson.
He’s seen species of animals that are now extinct in the wild. However, when he’s at Eckerd College, he can be seen free-climbing the trees of Slater Woods, almost as if he were his inspiration, Tarzan.
Those at Eckerd quickly took notice of Mittermeier’s love of travel. “From his first week in Autumn Term, Mickey showed he had the spirit of a globe trekker,” his Autumn Term Professor Mary Meyer McAleese said. “He has a deep passion for exploring other parts
of the world in order to get to know the terrain, the people, and their cultural traditions and respect for other cultures.”
As of January, Mittermeier has traveled to 67 different countries. His latest country was Turkey which he visited while studying abroad over Winter Term with the Sacred Byzantium course.
Mittermeier has traveled all of his life, having taken his first trip when he was just two years old to Australia and Indonesia. Traveling is in his DNA. His father is the president of Conservation International, one of the largest NGOs in the world, and his mother is currently a photographer for National Geographic.
Of all of the places that Mittermeier has been, he can’t pick just one as his favorite. “I would have to say that it’s a tie probably between Madagascar, Seychelles–an island chain off the coast of Madagascar, Australia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Disney World,” he says.
His passion doesn’t only lie in travel. Mittermeier is also passionate about what he calls “natural athletics” or MovNat.
Those who have seen Mittermeier hanging out in the trees have seen a part of MovNat, a form of fitness that puts an emphasis on exercising in a natural environment.
Both of Mittermeier’s passions stem from the inspiration of “Tarzan and the Apes” by Edgar Rice Burroughs. “The reason that I travel and do everything I do is because of the influence that my dad had from reading the Tarzan books and, by reading them, it not only led us on some crazy adventures, but it also inspired me to understand the human body in a way that isn’t really understood by many. When you see Tarzan, you see this person who grew up in the rainforest, grew up in the jungle and as a result, he’s just s
trong, powerful and clever; everything as a result of being in a natural environment.”
His love for the character also led him to the Tarzan Centennial last summer in Tanzana, Calif. During his time at the convention, he was interviewed by two different documentaries that were there. One was a German documentary that was covering the Tarzan story and asked Mittermeier about his influences and tree climbing.
The second was with Lisa Maria Salb, granddaughter of Johnny Weissmuller, who Mittermeier called “arguably the best Tarzan in the history of cinema.”
Despite having traveled to so many places, there are still many more places Mittermeier
wishes to see. Some of the locations include more of West Africa, more of Southeast Asia, the South Pacific Islands and various tree climbing cultures that he has yet to visit.
“[Mittermeier] has a deep passion for exploring other parts of the world in order to get to know the terrain, the people and their cultural traditions. Eckerd is the perfect college for him. I am sure he will continue to develop this passion for traveling and his respect for other cultures,” Meyer McAleese said. By the looks of it, Mittermeier isn’t going to stop circling the world anytime soon.