3 October 2013

Range Rovers climb high into Kyrgyzstan mountains

The three Range Rover Hybrid prototypes have progressed from the hot deserts of Uzbekistan to the high mountains of Kyrgyzstan as the Silk Trail 2013 expedition is poised to enter China. They'd set out from Tashkent, for centuries a stopping post for Silk Road merchants, missionaries and mercenaries.

The vehicles have blazed a trail in the last week across dusty desert roads running parallel to the legendary Silk Trail trading route, held back only by a time-consuming border crossing out of Uzbekistan, before going eastwards through the spectacular high-altitude mountains of Kyrgyzstan (the 11th of the 14 countries on its route). Here, the RRs and their drivers faced the toughest tests of the expedition so far, tackling narrow and ruttedFollowing heavy rains, the steeply-inclined roads were so wet and muddy that they had to fight their way forward yard-by-yard.

Driving to 13,035 feet (3,973 metres) above sea level, cars and team members were tested to the full in extreme weather and conditions, necessitating having the team's medical expert checking each person's heart rate and blood-oxygen saturation levels in anticipation of possible altitude sickness.

Descending from these great heights towards the Kyrgyzstan capital, Bishkek, the Range Rover Hybrids were often able to travel on their electric motors only, gliding downhill in near-silence, the braking for hairpin bends enough to regenerate the battery's charge.

Moving east from Bishkek, the Silk Trail 2013 expedition will spend one more night in Kyrgyzstan before crossing the border into China.

The expedition has now covered 6,332 miles (10,190 kms) from Solihull in the UK on its way to Mumbai in India.