This epic roadtrip was to celebrate the building of the one millionth Land Rover Discovery. Land Rover thought a journey of this magnitude would show the world the amazing versatility and capability of their vehicles, and they took along the special one millionth Land Rover Discovery!
The Birmingham to Beijing journey revealed some unique and fascinating stories. Birmingham, UK is the birthplace of Land Rover and Beijing China represents an important new market. The journey will passed through 13 countries which included the UK, France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Hungary, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and obviously China.
The aim of the roadtrip is charitable though, as it is raising £1 million British pounds ($2.6 million US dollars) for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
"Yeah, we've made it," crackled a voice over the radio, speaking with much relief after a harrowing 72 hours of driving in one of the world’s most remote and rugged regions of China. For one of the most epic and ambitious roadtrips, this was a truly epic moment.
The high-alpine pass, which the team of four Land Rovers needed to pass through, in China had been blocked by snow for days. The pass was impossible to get through even to the hardiest of off-road vehicles. With no other route through, the team's target, the bright lights of the Beijing Motor Show, was slipping away and the clock was ticking down.
It was with a justifiable cry of relief, then, that China finally rolled beneath the wheels of the four Land Rovers on the Journey of Discovery. Then the 13-country epic roadtrip of urban and off-road destinations, which showed the fascinating diversity of the world we live in, was on the home straight at last.
It was ironic, too, that the very thing that had been blocking the path into China had been directly related to the very first thing that the team had run into on this 'Journey of Discovery'.
After rolling out of the Geneva Motor Show, the first stop for the team was the Aosta Valley. There the team joined-up with experts from the Pila resort to discover the technique to protecting the slopes from avalanches. Polar explorer Ben Saunders and cameraman Johno Verity,an avalanche survivor, watched as the kaboom of 20kg of explosives triggered a perfectly controlled avalanche, removing a threatening snow cornice before it become a danger to the team.
It was a dramatic start to a epic journey, and after a stint of ice driving in Austria and a tour of the cultural European cities of Milan, Saltsburg, Vienna and Budapest, which included traveling with a police escort through Heroes Square. The Land Rover soldiered on to even more gritty stuff, as the first week ended with a haunting trip to Chernobyl.
More than 25 years since the world's worst nuclear accident in Chernobyl, the Land Rovers were the first private vehicles on the first private vehicle trip allowed into the 30km (18.64 miles) exclusion zone. As the team passed through they saw the peeling paint and sagging ceilings of buildings in the ghost town of Pripyat, once home to 50,000 young working professionals, showed a snapshot of a life destroyed by the Chernobyl accident.
With people filtering back, there is hope that one day the town may breathe again. That was a story repeated time and again, in different situations and circumstances, all the way along this intriguing roadtrip.
The Ukrainian cities of L'Viv, Kiev and Odessa were next up the team of four Land Rovers. They passed by with visiting amazing places such as a Hogwarts-style pharmacy museum of potions and lotions; a micro miniatures museum with a 400-piece gold model ship smaller than a fingernail; and stunning Odessa Steppes which is a symbol into the city of Odessa. Actually a late decision by the crew to avoid damaging the famed stairway halted a planned descent.
The wheels of the Land Rovers continued rolling into a former submarine shelter, carved deep into a mountain beside the Black Sea in Balaklava. Such a crucial part of the Soviets' Cold War armory. The entire town of Balaklava was taken off the map for more than 35 years and driving through the curved tunnels, which were designed to deflect accidental blasts from nuclear missiles once stored inside, revealed the stories behind a secret old world. Now you can find luxury yachts in the harbor!
Click Here to read Part 2 of the epic Journey of Discovery!