CAPE TOWN - Have you ever wondered what it would be like to drive to Mount Everest? Seriously, I mean jumping into a vehicle and pointing it toward Nepal. Seems crazy right? Well, it's not so crazy for Kingsley and his son Ross Holgate (and team) who embark on their next humanitarian and geographic expedition on Mandela Day 2018. 

The pair will pilot the new Land Rover Discovery, departing from  Cape Town on July 18, travelling through Africa to the edge of Europe. Then, they'll journey through ancient Asia as they make their way toward the Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal, covering  19 countries and 17 000km in total. 

According to Land Rover, chief sponsor of the expedition, the journey follows in the footsteps of Marco Polo along a branch of the ancient Silk Route, from Turkey, to Iran, through Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, and into China. 

The Holgates will take in some of the world’s most iconic sights such as Istanbul’s Blue Mosque, and pass the ancient city of Troy and Samarkand’s medieval Registan Square. However, the expedition will also cross 5000-metre high Himalayan passes in the mighty Karakoram  range, travel the trackless wastes of the Taklamakan Desert and the high-altitude grasslands of the Hindu Kush valley. More than 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites will also be visited as they put foot toward the world’s highest mountain – Mt Everest.

Why drive to the other side of the earth? 

One can argue that Kingsley Holgate has seen everything (and every place) that Africa has to offer. Having completed expeditions to all 54 countries on the continent and being part of the first exploration team in the world to discover the geographic centre of Africa, the Cape Town to Kathmandu expedition is the first in a new adventure theme of ‘Africa & Beyond’ for Kingsley, Ross and their band of explorers.

As always, they depart SA with a strong humanitarian and community focus. Kingsley Holgate says: "It will be the first time that Land Rover’s Discovery vehicles undertake a trans-continental journey through Africa, the South Caucasus region, Central and Southern Asia. We will be using two specially-kitted expedition Discoveries that recently completed a world-first journey to reach Africa’s most easterly point at Ras Xaafun in north-eastern Somalia on the Horn of Africa.” 

Doing it for Madiba

On the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth, the adventure begins with a collection of Cape Town sea water into the expedition’s symbolic Zulu calabash at Nobel Square. The water will be carried to Kathmandu and emptied at a site of historic significance. Also, to commemorate Mandela Day, the expedition team has been given special edition ‘Madiba100’ beaded bracelets, which are handcrafted by the Khayelitsha-based Relate Trust. 

Holgate and his team will carry a new Madiba Scroll of Peace and Goodwill which will collect messages and signatures of support from dignitaries and ordinary citizens en route. At the end of the expedition the scroll will be presented for endorsement to representatives of Kathmandu, in a symbolic gesture of goodwill from the people of South Africa. 

Land Rover retailers along the route will be getting involved too, using the opportunity to promote the Land Rover Hope Box project with the Red Cross - as part of Land Rover’s 70th anniversary theme of ’70 years of doing good’. 

Ross Holgate, the expedition's logistics and technical manager says the off-road capabilities of the latest Discovery are truly incredible: “The all-terrain system makes easy work of sand tracks, mud tracks, goat tracks – even no tracks, swollen rivers, desert crossings and dangerous mountain passes."

If you'd like to keep track of the expedition's progress, follow the hashtag #HCAT on the social networks.