Epic trip takes rhino art messages from SA to Nepal
Land Rover Cape to Kathmandu team are revved up for Asian leg
Two months since they left Cape Town on World Mandela Day on 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 up the community conservation aspect of the expedition, said she was excited about the rhino youth education work to be done on the trip.
“We’re carrying hundreds of messages of solidarity against rhino poaching from South African children," Antrobus said.
“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.”
“But the expedition is not going to be without its challenges though,” Ross Holgate cautioned.
“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
Brett Leslie/Ross Holgate