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Kingsley Holgate and the new Defender hit the road again

New Land Rover Defender will be put to the test during 10,000km Mzansi Edge Expedition

14 September 2020 - 12:15 By Motoring Reporter
Kingsley and Ross Holgate are preparing for their latest driving and humanitarian adventure.
Kingsley and Ross Holgate are preparing for their latest driving and humanitarian adventure.
Image: Supplied

Father-and-son team Kingsley and Ross Holgate are ready to hit the adventure trail again in the all-new Land Rover Defender.

SA’s most famous explorers will track the outline of the country in a 70-day, 10,000km Mzansi Edge Expedition, giving the Kingsley Holgate Foundation its first long-distance test of the recently launched Defender while delivering humanitarian aid to those in need.

The route will follow the land border of SA and track the Atlantic Ocean and Indian Ocean coastlines. The Holgates have taken delivery of two new Defenders to continue their life-saving efforts within their home country and later throughout Africa and beyond.

Kingsley said: “They say you only have one chance to make a good first impression, and the new Defender has certainly wowed us so far. Our team has had the privilege of driving two Discoverys for the past three years and we’ve accumulated more than 130,000km on each adventuring to places like Somalia, Turkey, Iran and Nepal.

“Those vehicles were the best off-roaders we’ve driven, so we’re excited to see how our new Defenders will improve on its already amazing capabilities in some of the harshest conditions on earth. With many African borders closed, the Mzansi Edge Expedition will offer an ideal first outing in these vehicles as we trace the borders of our home country.”

The Holgates’ two Defenders are equipped with Explorer Packs featuring raised air intakes, lockable side gear carriers, roof racks and underbody protection among others. The vehicles are powered by 3.0-litre straight-six mild hybrid (MHEV) P400 petrol drive trains.

“Over the decades we’ve become very familiar with the previous Defender. While we salute its departure, the arrival of this completely reimagined version of the legend will enable us to do so much more," said expedition leader Ross.

“In our early days we could have hardly imagined the 360º camera systems, hi-tech off-road developments and comfort features which will make saving and improving lives even easier and more enjoyable. 

The Mzansi Edge Expedition will include several geographic and humanitarian objectives. It will begin at the country’s most easterly point near Kosi Bay in northern KwaZulu-Natal in mid-September.

From there the team will travel anti-clockwise, staying as close as possible to SA’s borderline, to reach the most northerly point on the border with Zimbabwe, the extreme westerly point at the mouth of the Orange River on the Atlantic seaboard and Cape Agulhas, the most southerly point of the African continent. While journeying up the Indian Ocean coastline, the expedition will break away to circumnavigate the border with Lesotho before rejoining the east coast and ending back at Kosi Bay in late November.

The route will cover eight of SA’s nine provinces, including World Heritage Sites, and aims to reach all 52 lighthouses along the west and east coasts.

“After five months of lockdown you can well imagine how a fellow like me, who suffers from constant wanderlust, is desperate to get out and explore again, said Kingsley, who has spent the past 30 years exploring the African continent and beyond.

"So many of our journeys have been in search of wild and distant destinations deep in Africa, but now an opportunity exists for us to explore our own Mzansi to outline this ‘world in one country’ that we’re proud citizens of, and to bring charity close to home.”

The Holgates have swopped their trusty Discovery vehicles for the all-new Land Rover Defender.
The Holgates have swopped their trusty Discovery vehicles for the all-new Land Rover Defender.
Image: Supplied

“For the past few months, we’ve been assisting the ‘Feeding the Wildlife Community’ volunteer teams with the distribution of nutritious food parcels to hundreds of rural communities bordering game reserves, who were devastated by the complete collapse of the tourism industry during lockdown and the massive loss of jobs and income,” said Ross.

“Even though travel restrictions are easing, it’s going to take time for income to start flowing again, and widespread hunger is still a major concern for thousands of people living in outlying areas.

"So, as September is Tourism Month in South Africa, it is only right that the Mzansi Edge Expedition’s humanitarian focus will be on distributing 200,000 meals to needy families close to wildlife parks, as well as to early childhood development centres and creches in rural communities, in partnership with the DoMore Foundation and others. We will also distribute face masks and sanitising soap to families, as well as digital thermometers to community groups and organisations that need to maintain strict Covid-19 health protocols.”

The Holgate team will be joined by other SA adventurers to tackle parts of the route by mountain bike in canoes and on foot. These include veteran mountain biker "Shova Mike" Nixon, one of only four people in the world to have completed every ABSA Cape Epic, Everest mountaineers Sibusiso Vilane and André Bredenkamp, and adventure runner David Grier, the first person to run the Great Wall of China in both directions.

They will also meet up with fellow Land Rover ambassador and international rugby player Bryan Habana in Cape Town to assist the Habana Foundation with its humanitarian outreach in Cape communities.

Follow the Holgates’ expedition updates using the #TeamDefender hashtag on social media