Land Rover Cape to Kath­mandu team revved up for Asian leg

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - Travel -

Two months since they left Cape Town on World Man­dela Day ( July 18), the world-first Land Rover Cape Town to Kath­mandu team has suc­cess­fully com­pleted the African leg of the ex­pe­di­tion, and is now pre­par­ing to tackle the next chal­leng­ing sec­tion through the Cau­ca­sus and cen­tral Asia.

“It’s been a great ad­ven­ture so far,” ex­pe­di­tion leader Ross Hol­gate said.

“Armed with a Madiba100 Scroll of Peace and Good­will and a sym­bolic Zulu calabash filled with cold Cape sea­wa­ter, and with loads of pos­i­tive hu­man­i­tar­ian and com­mu­nity con­ser­va­tion work al­ready done in Africa, it’s now time to plot the Asian leg of the ex­pe­di­tion.

“De­spite there still be­ing eight coun­tries and around 12,000km to go, our sights are firmly set on reach­ing Kath­mandu in Nepal be­fore Christ­mas.”

Kings­ley Hol­gate, con­sid­ered the most trav­elled man in Africa, ex­plained that the jour­ney was cel­e­brat­ing Land Rover’s 70th an­niver­sary.

At the pre-launch of the ex­pe­di­tion, 70 Land Rovers dat­ing back to 1948 had formed the shape of a gi­ant, nu­meric “70” to mark this im­por­tant mile­stone in Land Rover’s his­tory.

“We also linked the ex­pe­di­tion’s send-off to hu­man­i­tar­ian work, in the form of Rite to Sight pro­vi­sion of read­ing glasses to mostly elderly, poor-sighted peo­ple, pro­vi­sion of wheel­chairs for the dis­abled, dis­tri­bu­tion of early child­hood devel­op­ment teach­ing ma­te­ri­als to poorly re­sourced preschools, and malaria pre­ven­tion work with preg­nant women and mothers with young chil­dren in high-risk malaria ar­eas.

“The Asian leg of this odyssey will be all new for us, and it has great sym­bol­ism, such as link­ing Cape Town’s 600-mil­lion-year-old Ta­ble Moun­tain to the an­cient Hi­malayas and Mount Ever­est,” he added.

“No other new Land Rover Dis­cov­ery team has tack­led this route be­fore and there’s much to look for­ward to: ex­otic places such as Is­tan­bul (the old Con­stantino­ple), Ge­or­gia, Ar­me­nia, Azer­bai­jan, the Caspian Sea, the an­cient ru­ins of Eph­e­sus in Iran, Pak­istan’s his­toric Khy­ber Pass and the hair­pin bends of the Karako­ram High­way – the high­est paved road in the world – not to men­tion Ra­jasthan – the jewel in In­dia’s crown – and then fi­nally, en­chant­ing Kath­mandu in the moun­tain king­dom of Nepal.”

Shee­lagh Antrobus, who heads the com­mu­nity con­ser­va­tion as­pect of the ex­pe­di­tion said, “I’m ex­cited about the rhino youth ed­u­ca­tion work we’re do­ing. ”

“We’re car­ry­ing hun­dreds of mes­sages of sol­i­dar­ity against rhino poach­ing from South African chil­dren.

“These Rhino Art mes­sages, which in­clude both the South African and Nepalese flags, are safely stored in the Land Rovers, and we’re look­ing for­ward to hand­ing them over to con­ser­va­tion of­fi­cials and chil­dren liv­ing near Chit­wan Na­tional Park in Nepal, which is home to 600 of the re­main­ing greater one-horned rhi­noc­eros of Asia.

“Yet, whilst they are un­der equal threat of ex­tinc­tion, Chit­wan hasn’t lost a rhino to poach­ing in three years.

“We’ll be bring­ing re­cip­ro­cal mes­sages from Nepalese chil­dren back to South Africa – this is the first time that the youth of both coun­tries are join­ing forces in call­ing for a global end to rhino poach­ing.”

Ross Hol­gate cau­tioned, “But the ex­pe­di­tion is not go­ing to be with­out its chal­lenges though.”

“Apart from this jour­ney be­ing a trans-con­ti­nen­tal test for the three Land Rovers, there are also loads of visa ap­pli­ca­tions and red tape.

“The war still rages in Syria. “To cross Iran in our own ve­hi­cles re­quires spe­cial per­mis­sion and loads of pa­per­work.

“Pak­istan’s Baluchis­tan re­gion near the bor­der with Afghanistan needs a mil­i­tary es­cort and there’s a fair bit of ten­sion in the northern Kash­mir re­gion – not to men­tion in Afghanistan.

“As al­ways, there’s that ner­vous feel­ing of an­tic­i­pa­tion in the pit of one’s stom­ach, all part of the ‘Zen of Travel’ that I hope will re­main on our side dur­ing this new ad­ven­ture.”

To fol­low the team on their ex­pe­di­tion, go to the Kings­ley Hol­gate Foun­da­tion page on Face­book or visit www.kings­ley­hol­gate.com

Pho­to­graph: BRETT LES­LIE/ROSS HOL­GATE

UN­STOP­PABLE: Kings­ley Hol­gate with some of the Landies on the ferry across Rio Rovuma

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