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• A 35,000 Km transcontinental expedition through 30 countries in Africa and Europe.

• First ‘Hot Cape To Cold Cape’ journey in recent years – a long-distance test for Land Rover’s New Defender.

• 40th geographic and humanitarian expedition for the Kingsley Holgate team.

• First carbon-neutral expedition of its kind.

• A Journey of Purpose to assist 300,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa.


South Africa
South Sudan
Republic of Sudan
North Macedonia
UK – England & Wales

Expedition Facts:

35 000 kilometres.

30 countries.

300 campfires and nights spent living like hermit crabs in our AluCab roof tents.

300 000 people assisted through humanitarian work.

2 continents where over 1,000 languages are spoken.

Over 28 million tyre revolutions.

Over 20 000 litres of fuel used.

Tracked the entire 6,650 Km length of the Nile from Lake Victoria (Tanzania) to Alexandria (Egypt).

Zero breakdowns and Zero punctures.

6,000 indigenous trees planted to offset the expedition’s carbon footprint (31 tonnes of CO²).

Torrential rain measured in metres in southern Africa.

Daytime temperatures of +50’C in the deserts of North Africa.

Route included: dirt tracks, goat tracks, no tracks, axle-deep muddy trenches, detours, re-routes, rock-strewn mountain passes, swollen river crossings, towering desert dunes, swamp-filled forests, millions of mosquitos and precipitous Arctic cliffs.

To read the thrilling country-by-country Blogs and see the incredible photographic archive of this expedition, please visit our Kingsley Holgate Foundation Facebook page 

2022 will go down as one of our most momentous expedition years ever. 10 months, 30 countries and 35,000 kilometres after setting out from Cape Agulhas on the southern tip of the African continent, we completed the Defender Transcontinental Expedition on the sands of Red Wharf Bay, Anglesey in Wales, the spiritual ‘birthplace’ of the iconic Land Rover brand. It was a world-first achievement for the recently launched New Defender.

Two years in the making, this was the first ‘Hot Cape to Cold Cape’ transcontinental journey in recent years to successfully traverse the entire lengths of Africa and Europe from south to north. It was also the 40th geographic and humanitarian odyssey for the intrepid Kingsley Holgate expedition team – and the first carbon-neutral 4×4 expedition in the world.

Before leaving South Africa, the team planted 6,000 Albany Thicket indigenous trees and shrubs to offset the expedition’s carbon footprint, in partnership with Rhodes University, Conservation Landscapes Institute and the Tanglewood Foundation.

As with all our expeditions, the principle of using adventure to improve and save lives’ ensured that the Defender Transcontinental Expedition was also a humanitarian journey of purpose. Travelling in three expedition-kitted New Defenders (2 P400s and 1 D300), the six-member team of Kingsley, Sheelagh, Ross, Anna and ‘Shova Mike’ and Fiona Nixon, conducted humanitarian work that assisted some 300,000 people along the expedition’s route through sub-Saharan Africa.

We’ll long remember the energetic days spent in remote rural areas distributing nutritional food packs and upgrading impoverished Early Childhood Development centres, installing water tanks and pipelines for water-scarce communities, providing eye tests and reading glasses to hundreds of poor-sighted people, and the lively malaria education events, frenetic soccer games and thousands of appreciative pregnant women and mums with young children who received life-saving mosquito nets. What a never-to-be-forgotten geographic and humanitarian odyssey it turned out to be!

Wars, Re-routes, Covid-19 and Malaria

The crossing of Africa wasn’t without its challenges. When we left from Cape Agulhas in October 2021, cross-border travel was extremely difficult due to Covid-19 restrictions and compulsory, costly PCR testing at every border post. Add to that, wars and uprisings across the breadth of North Africa meant that for the first time in decades, Africa was pretty much off-limits to overland travellers.

After enduring weeks of torrential rain that turned dirt tracks into axle-deep muddy trenches in southern and east Africa – and all 6 team members going down with life-threatening malaria – we were forced to re-route due to the civil war in Ethiopia. Instead, we followed the White Nile’s meandering journey from where it pours out of Lake Victoria at Jinja in Uganda, and travelled through the lands of the towering Dinka people to reach the disputed territories between South Sudan and the Republic of Sudan. We ran the gauntlet of a militia uprising in the UN-controlled no-mans-land region of Abyei – a terrifying experience of negotiating our way through numerous illegal roadblocks and being chased at breakneck speed by hostile AK47-wielding guerrillas. The expedition team was then detained for a nerve-wracking four days by the Republic of Sudan army in a remote desert camp before being allowed to proceed to Khartoum – another tense 1,000Km dash with plenty of military hold-ups.

Our route through Sudan continued to track the Nile through the glittering red sands of the Nubian Desert, exploring ancient pyramids, tombs and temples from the Kushite Kingdom of the Black Pharaohs to reach Wadi Halfa and cross into Egypt. Still following the Nile past the magnificent temples of Luxor and the Valley of the Kings, we survived chaotic Cairo then detoured to explore the ancient oasis of Siwa in the high dunes of the Western Desert near the border with Libya and crossed the WW2 battlefields of Al Alamein before re-joining the Nile and finally reaching Alexandria on the Mediterranean Sea, where the mighty river ends its 6,650Km journey. In doing so, we inadvertently became the first expedition in 30 years to successfully cross Africa from south to north through the two Sudans.

Reaching Europe, the expedition traversed Italy, Greece, North Macedonia and the intriguing but edgy Western Balkan countries of Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia, before crossing into Hungary and Slovakia – a highlight being a visit to the JLR plant in Nitra where all New Defenders are made. But because of the war in Ukraine, another re-route was necessary. We took roads less travelled through history-rich Poland staying close to the border with Belarus, traversed the beautiful Balkan States of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, then crossed the Baltic Sea and travelled the full length of Finland (including a jolly visit to Santa Claus at his village in Rovaniemi!) before entering Norway at the most northern border point in Europe.

But before heading for the iconic globe monument on the 300-metre-high cliffs of Nordkapp on the island of Magerøya, the expedition first struck out east to reach the ‘other’ most northern point of mainland Europe close to the border with Russia – the 117-year-old Slettnes Lighthouse near the remote Arctic fishing village of Gamvik.

Geographic Objectives Achieved

At 71 degrees north, Nordkapp is the most northern extremity of Europe you can drive to. What an unforgettable moment it was for our exhausted team as, after 270 days of hard, non-stop travel, in howling winds, thick fog and freezing rain we tumbled out of the three expedition Defenders at ‘the Top of the World’.  Proudly flying the South African and Norwegian flags, we built a symbolic ‘isivivane’ (stone cairn) and poured out a sprinkling of Cape Agulhas seawater from the expedition’s well-travelled Zulu calabash.

With the ‘Hot Cape – Cold Cape’ chapter now complete, the expedition turned south and tracked the full length of Norway’s magnificent fjord-filled western coastline, then – in a race against time – crossed Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Belgium and Holland to reach the UK and the expedition’s end on the sands of Red Wharf Bay at Anglesey in Wales. In doing so, the expedition reached its second geographic milestone of traversing 30 countries.

Expedition member ‘Shova Mike’ Nixon achieved his own record-breaking geographic feat – cycling an incredible 10,000 Km of the route from Cape Agulhas to Anglesey on a gravel bike alongside the expedition Defenders. In all weather conditions and across every conceivable type of terrain – twisting mountain passes, torrential rain, thick mud, scorching desert sands, swampy forests, rock-strewn glacial tracks and freezing Arctic winds – Shova Mike proved yet again why he is considered one of the world’s toughest and greatest adventure cyclists.

Mission Accomplished!

16 August 2022 – a day we’ll never forget: for more than two years we’d been dreaming about the moment we would set eyes on the sand-rippled expanse of Red Wharf Bay, where the first Land Rover design was sketched in the sand by Maurice Wilks in 1947, 75 years ago.

Accompanied by a convoy of heritage Land Rovers – including the first two Series I vehicles to cross the African continent in 1954 – the expedition’s Anglesey finale had a touch of African flair. In the company of a jolly gang from the Land Rover Club of North Wales, the Mayor of Anglesey, Defender enthusiasts from all over the UK, South African friends and even new mates from the JLR Nitra Plant in Slovakia, this never-to-be-forgotten transcontinental odyssey came to an end with a historic Land Rover Guard of Honour proudly flying the flags of South Africa, Norway, UK, Wales and Slovakia, the building an ‘isivivane’ topped with pebbles from Cape Agulhas, and the emptying of Indian and Atlantic seawater symbolically collected from Africa’s southern tip and carried 35,000 kilometres to Red Wharf Bay.

The true heroes of this odyssey were most definitely Moyo, Isibindi and Mamba, the nicknames given to our three trusty expedition Defenders, which tackled some of the harshest terrain in Africa and toughest roads in eastern Europe and Scandinavia, so proving beyond doubt that, like the icons before them, these capable New Defenders can and will keep the spirit of adventure alive. 

Our minds – like the expedition’s Scroll of Peace and Goodwill – are overflowing with incredible memories: of the people we met, the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, languages, cultures, histories and ancient civilizations, sunrises, sunsets and midnight suns, breath-taking vistas and loads of humour amidst the hardships and humanitarian work.

We’re deeply grateful to the multitude of wonderful folk in every country who helped us with near-impossible logistics, provided our weary team with expedition base camps, grub and hot showers, joined in our campfire evenings, shared much-needed local knowledge, translation and advice on tricky routes, introduced us to government and community leaders, and willingly rolled up their sleeves to help with all the humanitarian work.  Siyabonga, Asante Sana, Shukran, Thank You – you know who you are.


Our grateful thanks to our key expedition partners, without whom this epic geographic and humanitarian journey would not have been possible:

Jaguar Land Rover Sub-Saharan Africa
• Jaguar Land Rover Nitra Plant, Slovakia
Expedition Patron David Kyne
• New Property Ventures
4×4 Mega World
Front Runner
Cooper Tires
Melvill & Moon
Goodbye Malaria
International Geographic Union
Celox Medical & Global Phalanx
Rhodes University, Tanglewood Foundation & Conservation Landscapes Institute
Project Rhino Alliance, Tembe Elephant Lodge, Ghost Mountain Inn & the game reserves of Zululand
Do More Foundation, SPAR Group, Build It, Shaves Paints & SBS Tanks
Twiga Lodge, Shaw Safaris, Africa Foundation & Singita Grumeti (Tanzania)
• Lynn Lurie and her Amarula Lodge team (South Sudan)
Anglesey Transport Museum, Mayor of Anglesey & the wonderful folk of Red Wharf Bay (Wales)
• Land Rover Clubs: Karoo2point25, Arusha, Uganda, Norway and North Wales
• Land Rover UK Monthly, Overland Journal, LandRoverPhotoAlbum, Market IQ & Versfeld & Associates