Kingsley Holgate’s Transcontinental expedition reaches halfway point

Kingsley Holgate’s expedition makes progress despite numerous challenges

Reuben Van Niekerk
Land Rover Defender
Kingsley Holgate

Just seven months after leaving Cape Agulhas, the Kingsley Holgate Defender Transcontinental Expedition has reached its geographic halfway point in Alexandria, Egypt. By doing so the team became the first exploration team in 30 years to cross the African continent from south to north through Sudan.

Using three Land Rover Defenders, the expedition plans to cross through 30 countries on its route from the southern tip of the African continents to the northern most point of Europe at Nordkapp in Norway’s Arctic Circle and then onwards to Anglesey in Wales.

To date the six-member team has had to deal with mountains of paperwork required for overland travel in Africa, rising fuel prices and the costs and logistics surrounding COVID-19 and PCR tests at every border crossing as well as life threatening situations and extreme hardships on their journey from South Africa to Egypt. For example, four members became extremely ill with malaria in East Africa as the route through that area coincided with heavy rains and flooding in malaria rampant areas.

The expedition’s route through Bayuda and the Nubian Deserts of northern Sudan saw the crew experience daytime temperatures in excess of 50 degrees necessitating the rationing of water and fuel in order to reach Wadi Halfa on the Egyptian border, before continuing onto Cairo and ultimately making their way to Alexandria on the Mediterranean coast.

Despite all these challenges, the expedition has remained true to its geographic objectives, including following the White Nile on its 6 650km journey from Lake Victoria to the confluence of the White and Blue Niles at Omdurman in Sudan

The expedition teams are relying on three new Land Rover Defender vehicles in the first long-distance, real-life test of the latest incarnation of this automotive icon.

Before leaving South Africa the expedition provided two million meals of nutritional support and early childhood development teaching materials to children at 130 rural crèches. In Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and South Sudan, the expedition worked with long-term partners Goodbye Malaria by providing education material and tens of thousands of high-quality Vestergaard malaria nets. Throughout the expedition’s seven-month journey, the team has provided eye-tests and distributed thousands of pairs of reading glasses as part of Mashozi’s Rite to Sight programme.

The three Defenders will now be shipped across the Mediterranean to Greece ahead of the commencement of the second leg of the expedition through Eastern Europe.

The on going situation in Ukraine has however forced the expedition to rethink their journeys as they were planning to visit both Ukraine and Russia as part of their journey, fortunately there are still many equally fascinating Eastern European countries to experience.

The team remains focussed on reaching Nordkapp and completing the first Hot Cape to Cold Cape journey in recent years before making their way to the Isle of Anglesey in Wales, where the first Land Rover design was sketched in the sand by engineer Maurice Wilks in 1947.