15,000 kilometers through 11 countries and that just in 52 days? Sounds crazy, but not for the team of Land Rover Experience. And since I am always up for unusual things, I accompanied the 10th Land Rover Experience tour on their way through the Silk Road 2013.
The Silk Road is an ancient network of trade routes, which connected the Mediterranean Sea with Central and East Asia by land. Its greatest relevancy was between 115 BCE to the 13th century when silk, spices, glass and porcelain was carried on the route, scholars and merchants migrated and with them cultures, religions and ideas were exchanged, but also armies used the streets.
On August 26, 2013 the British Ambassador Simon McDonald and the German actress Jessica Schwarz dismissed the convoy consisting of 7 Range Rover Evoque and 4 Land Rover Discovery 4 as escort vehicles in Berlin. 12 weeks in three stages lay in front of the team and the 12 winners of the tour. They received support by internationally renowned companies such as Haglöfs, Swarovski optics, Shell, NRJ and Continental. Four winners out of formerly 22,000 applicants were allowed to contest each stage together with the rest of the team. The first stage ran from Berlin to Uzbekistan, where I joined the team for the remaining two stages and 8 weeks and caught the fascinating and unique tour in pictures.
From Tashkent in Uzbekistan we drove to Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan. There we accidentally got into an Kyrgyz wedding, met a traditional hunter with his eagle, who put his ability to the test and we opened our camp in a tent or in traditional yurts. The days were very long and the nights shorter. Often, we stood up as the sun had not risen yet and late went to bed. A mammoth task was once 22 hours long. From Kyrgyzstan we drove East and crossed the Chinese border, then through the second largest sand desert on earth, the Taklamakan desert.
From here, we took course for one of the world’s highest mountain range: the Himalayas, literally translated to “the place of snow” (hima “snow” and alaya “home, place”). We visited several monastery on the roof of the world, in Tibet, and I had the opportunity to talk with some monks, which was absolutely fascinating and unforgettable. Because the tour was not only about kilometers, but also about to take time to get to know the country and its people and to visit places of interest. One of the most craziest border crossings I visited was between Tibet to Nepal. Kathmandu was very impressive and for me it is hard to imagine what it looks like after the violent earthquake in 2015. 2013 we played surrounded by temples soccer with local children and were heavily impressed by the hospitality of the people. From Nepal we went to the last country of the tour, to India. India is a country of contrasts with incredible architecture and culture. All vehicles, including team members safely arrived at the tour destination Mumbai on October 13, 2013.
For me, this tour was an unforgettable experience, a wonderful adventure with many encounters, impressions, memories and wonderful new friends. “Live dreams, move mountains, crossing borders” this motto of the Land Rover Experience Tour summarizes perfectly the journey: each participant, me including, has gone to its limits, we have reached unimaginable and lived a dream, even though it only took a few weeks.