Lou Toschner (born 23 September 1949 in Vienna) is an Austrian-South African adventurer, journalist, free-lance photographer, film-maker (documentaries), story-teller and author.


He already started with experimental black-and-white photography when he was twelve years old. As from the age of sixteen he began to travel extensively, hitchhiking throughout Europe and developing his own perception of portrait- and landscape photography. He made good use of his school holidays by travelling to the Moroccan Atlas Mountains and to the Algerian Sahara for lengthy stays.


After graduating at the former "Handelsschule Neumann" (commercial school Neumann) as well as the Vienna Business School HAK I, as desired by his parents and after the obligatory military service, he soon decided to move to Africa for a longer period of time. He emigrated end of 1974 to South Africa on one of the last regularly plying mail ships to the Cape of Good Hope.


TOUR GUIDE IN SOUTHERN AFRICA (1975 - 1977)

After in-depth training at Economical Tours, an Austrian-based travel business in Johannesburg, managed by H. Egger, Lou Toschner worked from the beginning of 1975 to the beginning of 1977 as tour-guide for individually arranged groups throughout Southern Africa. During this time one occurrence stood out as particularly significant and moving - a visit with Austrian judges and lawyers to Nelson Mandela, who at that time, was still imprisoned on Robben Island during the Apartheid regime.


PUBLICATIONS, FILM- AND PHOTO-PROJECTS (1975 - 1979)

From the beginning of 1975 to the end of 1979 Lou Toschner published a monthly series on film and photography in the periodical "Austria Spiegel" of the Austrian Club Johannesburg.


ELECTRONIC REPRODUCTION CENTRE - Layout - Design - Photography - Typesetting and Colour-Reproduction, Johannesburg (1976 - 1991)

During the congenial partnership with Heinz Tensfeld, then managing director of Electronic Reproduction Centre, Lou Toschner published photos, film footage and audio material as from 1976 in Southern Africa.


PRESENTATION OF THE PINZGAUER in South Africa, Lesotho and Botswana (1977)

In the preparatory stage of the "Rand Easter Show" in Johannesburg in March 1977 Lou Toschner, in co-operation with the Austrian trade delegate for Southern Africa, Dr. Lothar Puxkandl and "Steyr-Daimler-Puch" was selected to present the new six-wheel-drive "Pinzgauer" in front of the Austrian pavilion.


TOTAL SOUTH AFRICA TRANS-KALAHARI ROAD RACE 1977

In May Lou Toschner participated with the Pinzgauer and members of the "Four Wheel Drive Club of Southern Africa" in the three-week preparations for the "ROAD RACE" in Botswana. With the assistance of a Bushman-tracker and due to his own detailed knowledge of the course, Lou Toschner could film the 500 km race at spectacular spots together with a team of the "South African Broadcasting Corporation, SABC", the South African television, during the actual race. Due to the rough terrain the SABC could only transmit the race two days later.


PRESENTATION OF THE PINZGAUER FOR BOTSWANA (1977)

In Gaborone, the capital of Botswana, Lou Toschner then presented the Pinzgauer to the youngest General in the world at that time, Ian Khama. The son of the then state president of Botswana, Sir Seretse Khama, put the Steyr-Puch Pinzgauer to the test in the vicinity of Gaborone for over two weeks. During this time a friendship developed between the two men of similar age. 2008 Ian Khama succeeded his deceased father and head of the state of Botswana. During a visit in 2014 the idea to create a coffee-table book showing the beauty of the country of Botswana was born. Scheduled realisation: around mid 2018.


RECORDINGS FOR THE RADIO IN VENDA (1977)

Co-operation between Lou Toschner and Justus Tshungu, moderate opponent to the apartheid regime and prominent speaker on Radio Bantu, later spokesman of the radio for Sotho and Nguni, now minister in the "African International Ministries (AIM)" in the rough terrain of Venda, an area between Zimbabwe, the former Rhodesia, Mozambique and South Africa.


AUDIENCE WITH THE RAIN QUEEN - DANCE OF THE VIRGINS (1977)

An extremely rare audience with the rain queen and the following initiation ceremony with virgins dancing in the full moon resulted in very unusual recordings broadcast in Radio Bantu.


EDITORIAL WORK (1978 - 1979)

As from mid 1978 Lou Toschner additionally published travelogues and photos in the monthly "Schwaben Kurier" (circulation 25.000) for Schwaben International South Africa.


LIFE AND WORK OF THE GERMAN SPEAKING COMMUNITY IN SOUTHERN AFRICA (1978 - 1980)

At the recommendation of Heinz Tensfeld, Lou Toschner joined the publisher Rolf Schmidt Pty. Ltd. as editor in charge in 1978 to be promoted to chief editor in 1979. In this time two books were published on the "Life and Work of the German Speaking Community in Southern Africa". Several months of research in South Africa, Namibia (formerly South West Africa), Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) and Botswana were required for these books.


PHOTOGRAPHY ASSIGNMENT FORMULA 1 IN KYALAMI NEAR JOHANNESBURG (1979)

For "Schwaben International" Lou Toschner took photographs in the paddocks, during race preparations and at the presentation ceremony (Gilles Villeneuve was the winner).


FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT FOR "SALZBURGER NACHRICHTEN" (1979)

Dr. Werner Filek-Wittinghausen and Dr. Jörg Schneider both of the Austrian Trade Delegation in Johannesburg proposed Lou Toschner for the position as foreign correspondent of the renowned Austrian daily newspaper in 1979. However, due to his numerous other commitments and preparations already in process for the expedition through Africa together with his future spouse he - much to his regret - had to decline this flattering proposal. His tasks at "Schwaben Kurier" and as chief editor for Rolf Schmidt Pty. Ltd. also came to an end for these reasons towards the end of 1979.


EXPEDITION FROM BOTSWANA TO EUROPE (1980 - 1981)

After an eight month preparatory phase Lou Toschner, together with his future wife Sabine, left from Botswana in June 1980 on a one-year trip through Africa on his return to Vienna. The expedition with a fully packed Land Rover was generously supported by the "Electronic Reproduction Centre" headed by Heinz Tensfeld, the authorities in Botswana and the Austrian Trade Delegations along the route on behalf of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber as well as "Steyr Nigeria Limited, Bauchi".


EXPEDITION- AND LOG-REPORTS


Logbook entry dated 14 June 1980: "Departure from Gaborone, 11:00 h, kilometre reading: 13 030."


Starting from BOTSWANA's capital Gaborone, Lou Toschner travelled through the Kalahari semi-desert, home country of the Bushmen (Khoisan) passing the Makgadikgadi Pans up to the Okavango Delta (the largest inland delta in the world).

They then visited ZIMBABWE, the town Bulawayo, the ancient ruins of Great Zimbabwe, the capital Harare, the Victoria Falls on the border to Zambia as well as the Kariba Dam of the Zambezi river.


Travelling through thick bushland they reached the capital of Zambia, Lusaka, and in the neighbouring country MALAWI with the scenic Lake Malawi they reached the Great Rift Valley. Starting from Lilongwe and Blantyre, the mountainous border regions Zomba Plateau and the Mulanje mountain range on both sides of Malawi and MOZAMBIQUE were explored for severals days, this time backpacking with local guides. Travelling along Lake Malawi stretching from North to South over 587 km they stopped over in several quaint fishing villages with remarkably friendly natives and enjoyed short beach holidays.


In TANSANIA they reached the capital Dar es Salaam and thus the Indian Ocean. With a rickety light aircraft they successfully reached the former slave island ZANZIBAR and explored the island on foot for one week. During this time the Land Rover was safely parked in the Austrian Embassy as the situation in the capital Dar es Salaam was extremely dangerous.

On returning to continent ground they carried on to Arusha, the starting point for summiting Mount Kilimanjaro.


Logbook entry dated 4 September 1980: "After Moshi we stop for 30 minutes admiring the view of the snow-capped Kilimanjaro."


Not being mountaineers and without the relevant training a tour up to the timber line (2 500 m altitude) was satisfactory for the two adventurers.

Further on, they reached the renowned national parks of Eastern Africa: the Lake Manyara National Park, the Ngorongoro Crater and the famous Serengeti.


Logbook entry dated 5 September 1980: "The gravel road is in an abysmal state. The condition of the road worsens to such an extent as we have never experienced it before. After 19 km this results in our first flat tyre. While working under the jacked up car, a group of six Maasai men carrying spears appeared from seemingly nowhere. After a short while they started to help themselves to our toolbox and started to remove our wing mirror. Waving about our biggest screw-wrenches we managed to chase these Maasai away."


The famous Serengeti lies in the region between Tanzania and Kenya and passing the border to Kenya they reached the Maasai Mara National Reserve. A ride in a hot-air balloon over both parks with their countless animals was one of the highlights of the expedition. After spending several days in Nairobi, the journey continued to the Amboseli National Park to the North of the Kilimanjaro and from there to the popular seaside resorts on the Indian Ocean: Malindi, Mombasa and Lamu island. The couple spent three weeks at the coast side to rest and recover, they also enjoyed sailing with fishermen in their feluccas. Carrying on, the journey took them to the North passing Nairobi and reaching the Eastern part of the East African Rift Valley with Mount Kenya, shrouded in mist, and travelling in an arch, the Buffalo Springs - and the Samburu National Reserve as well as the gradually sanding up Lake Turkana (formerly known as Lake Rudolf) were visited. Turning again southwards they reached the 3 000 to 4 000 m high mountain mass of the Aberdare-and Nyndarua National Parks along the border to UGANDA. The impressive alkaline Lake Baringo and Lake Bogoria with their hot springs, geysers and hundreds and thousands of flamingos were the next magnificent views.


Lake Victoria with a length of more than 300 km and being considered to be the source of the Nile, or at least the source of a feeder river to the Nile, was perilously crossed from North to South on an open ferry with no guardrails from Kampala in Uganda to Mwanza in Tanzania.


In the western marginal region of East Africa the states BURUNDI with the capital Bujumbura and further North the picturesque RWANDA with the capital Kigali were visited.


Travelling through terraced manioc plantations they were taken with the friendly rural population, in the border areas to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda they reached the densely overgrown chain of volcanoes, the Virunga Mountains. From there they made their way to the then relatively small Karisoke Research Center founded by the American primatologist Dian Fossey, author of "Gorillas in the Mist".


Logbook entries dated 22 and 23 November 1980: "At kilometre reading: 25 665 we are greeted by the head of the research centre , Dian Fossey and a British zoologist and receive detailed information on the "Mountain Gorilla Project". Early the next morning we start off with a member of the centre and after two hours we reach a bamboo forest along the border of the park. An hour later we arrive at an area where the Gorillas had clearly spent the last night. Twenty minutes further on we meet the first group of Gorillas peacefully feeding, sitting on a 5 by 10 m clearing. We observe them for more than an hour, crouching in the wet vegetation, not to irritate the adult male or "silverback"."


Their entrance to ZAIRE (todays DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO) coincides with the onset of the rainy season and the roads became practically impassable. For weeks the distance covered in the steaming, humid rainforest was around an average 10 km per day!


Logbook entry dated 27 November 1980: "At kilometre reading: 27 078 we have our first spring fracture. The rear leaf spring and the suspension bolt break. It is 14:30h - until nightfall (at 18:00 h) we try to repair the damage in vain. At 19:05h we decide to return to the missionary station we had passed 27 km before and reach it at creep speed at daybreak. On 1 December 1980 our vehicle is ready again to continue the journey."


From the town Isiro near the borders to the Sudan and the Central African Republic they start off on a hike lasting several days with two American ethnologists to visit a group of Pygmies.


Logbook entry dated 8 December 1980:"We record all the mud holes measuring more than a metre in depth and several car lengths long. In one of these mud holes the mudguards of the three water tanks are torn off. In our attempt to pull out the Land Rover with the help of our cable winch the right shock absorber is torn off and the left door can no longer be closed."


Logbook entry dated 15 December 1980: "For several hours now we are stuck in pouring rain in mud hole No. 40. Water and mud enter the floor of the car once again. When we finally manage to free ourselves we reach the Belgian Centre Frère Evangelique du Zaire, a hospital in Nyankunde which also treats lepers. Within four days the doctors manage to heal a painful eczema."


The next stop was the Okapi Wildlife Reserve later declared as World Heritage Site by the UNESCO bordering on the Sudan, Uganda and Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo).


In order to avoid the muddy roads Lou Toschner decided to travel the distance from Kisangani to the capital Kinshasa on the Congo River. So the Land Rover was loaded on a vessel and the two joined approximately one hundred natives on this eight-day trip.


Logbook entry dated 2 January 1981: "Serious outbreak of malaria in Kinshasa. A young French doctor helps."


Significantly emaciated and weakened the next stage of the journey was tackled three weeks later crossing the Congo River over a bridge to arrive in Brazzaville, capital of the REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO.


In the rainforests of GABON the hospital of Albert-Schweitzer in Lambaréné at the river Ogooué was visited. They then travelled on to the neat capital Libreville and to Cap Esterias on the Atlantic Ocean for a short rest.


Logbook entry dated 26 January 1981: "Between Lambaréné and Libreville we cross the Equator at Kango for the fifth and last time on this expedition."


After the border crossing into CAMEROON they arrived at the capital Yaoundé in the inland and thereafter reached the humid port Douala. In the Northeast they visited the Centre for Crafts and Technologies in Bali founded by the Swiss craftsman and theologian Hans Knöpfli. Finally the humid tropics lay behind them and in the North of Cameroon near Lake Chad they entered the Sahel zone.


Coming from Garoua, they crossed over to NIGERIA at Gombe. In the small town of Bauchi they were invited to stay for three weeks by the hospitable Austrian managers of "Steyr Nigeria Limited", Evelyn and Georg Eder, who also provided for a complete free of charge overhaul of the Land Rover in their workshops. The Nigerian human resources manager invited them to a chief’s festival of the Tuareg people near Kano.


Logbook entry dated 24 March 1981: "Four days after the festival Lou suffers a second, slightly lighter Malaria attack."


After having reached NIGER via Katsina they were captivated by spotless clay stilt huts as the desert finally took over. The three-month crossing of the Sahara now dominated the rhythm of the expedition.

Drifting sands made it hard to spot the occasional signs. With severals days in between they reached the great oases Maradi and Agadez and finally crossed the exhausting "desert of all deserts" the Ténéré.


After having crossed the border to ALGERIA they reached Guezzam and the great oasis of the Tuareg, Tamanrasset, lying at the foot of the Hoggar Mountains. Another highlight of the crossing of the Sahara was the night-time ascent of the Assekrem, 2 180 m high, called the "end of the world" by the Tuareg, to the hermitage of Père Foucault. The sight of the rising sun over the Sahara below was balm for the two adventurers after numerous sufferings during the past months.


Logbook entry at km reading 36 999: "On our return from Assekrem we have breakdown No. 3 caused by the leaf spring as the master spring leaf and the front bolt of the right rear spring break. At the same time flies had placed maggots in Sabine’s left eye causing a painful inflammation."


After the excursion through the Hoggar Mountains the road carried on from Tamanrasset through the Central Sahara to the large oasis In Salah. Further North El Golea with thousands of palm trees and an artesian well was entrancing. In Beni Isguen and Ghardaia the water tanks were filled one last time in the Sahara. Before reaching Djelfa the vast desert already started to recede. Now only the Atlas Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea separated the two from the European continent.


Logbook entry: "Just before reaching Algiers the tachometer shows us that we covered a distance of 25 000 km since our departure from Gaborone, Botswana! Before reaching Vienna we still have another 2 000 km ahead but we managed to survive the worst strain."


After one year of travelling through Africa the yield of the PHOTOGRAPHIC- AND FILM MATERIAL was enormous. Thanks to the various trade delegates en route the bulk of the positive material and the rolls of film were sent by courier to Heinz Tensfeld in Johannesburg. Eight 16 mm films with a duration of 50 minutes each showing various highlights of the journey were created and together with various photo- and audio documentaries these were broadcast over the following months in the South African television and radio (SABC), the photographic material was published respectively.


The Austrian television (ORF) produced a one-hour documentary showing film extracts, a detailed interview by the moderator Vera Russwurm and displayed the Land Rover in the Africa Museum in Bad Deutsch Altenburg (Lower Austria). This report was broadcast on 12 September 1982.


CENTRAL- AND NORTH AMERICA (1983, 1991, 1992, 1995)


It was only in summer 1983 that Lou Toschner planned another extensive photographic tour - this time to New York, Florida and Central America.

However, when reaching the archaeological excavations of the Maya in Chichén Itzá in Yucatán, MEXICO, he suffered yet another Malaria attack. This meant that from now on he would avoid travelling to tropical areas and only deal with photographic tasks in Europe. In 1985, having fully recovered, he ventured to travel to various other countries again. In the years between 1991 and 1995 trips to the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, to the Hawaii-islands Oahu, Maui and the Main Island (Hawaii), as well as to San Francisco and the Silicon Valley followed.


EUROPE (as from mid 1981) and always again SOUTHERN AFRICA

Since his return to Europe Lou Toschner has focused primarily on landscape-,

city- and architectural photography in Europe and Southern Africa as well as on portraits of indigenous peoples and special character faces. Lou Toschner attaches particular concern to the book "WIEN DIE SCHÖNSTE STADT DER WELT" (Vienna the most beautiful city in the world) which will be published soon.


In the course of his 55 years as photographer he has visited 65 countries on four continents where he managed to capture the numerous beauties of our earth, its animal kingdom, its buildings and human inhabitants with great virtuosity.


As publishers for Lou Toschner we present a comprehensive PORTFOLIO on our website.











































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Lou Toschner

2016