Tag Archives: Classic Indian Adventure

Long Way Across India: Our Route

Route-planning for our Classic India Adventure

This week, in addition to wrangling filming kit for our India trip, I’ve been sizing up the route we’ll be taking across this vast country. There’s nothing quite like poring over maps to get the adventurous juices flowing!

Our journey will take us through more than 1,000km of South India, across three of the country’s most spectacular regions – Kerala, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu. We’ll be skirting inland lagoons and lakes, traversing reserves teeming with tigers, and tackling the steep jungle ascents of the Western Ghat mountain range. Descriptions of our route conjure up magical images – elephants, monkeys and bears, beautiful wetlands and backwaters, ancient monuments and temples, gorgeous sweeping mountain vistas, and hot, dusty plains. Even the place names have a mystique about them – Bandipur, Mudumallai, Kodaikanal, Masinagudi, Ooty…

South India - UNICEF route

Our intended route through South India

South India’s going to be a really exciting and unpredictable place to travel through, especially in the way we have chosen – using classic motorbikes and cars synonymous with travel in India. We’ve already been warned about the changeable weather, unforeseen roadblocks and numerous other obstacles that may force us to veer off our intended route. Throw in erratic road rules and towns and villages teeming with chaotic activity – people and animals everywhere! – and it’s certainly going to be an expedition that will require all our stamina and sense of humour.

Thinking about filming, I’m excited at the prospect of shooting in such a diverse and colourful country. It looks like there’ll be no shortage of extraordinary places to capture on film – not to mention the exploits of our intrepid team as we encounter daily adventures. I’m also looking forward to visiting the UNICEF project in Mysore – a chance to see how the money we’ve fundraised is being used to help kids in need.

As Charley says: “There’ll be long days on the road and we’ll be pushed to our limits on some sections. But we’ll have lots of time to take in the fantastic journey and experience all India has to offer.”

Yup Charley, I can’t wait to be on the road tackling everything India has to throw at us – bring it on!

Ambassadors & Royal Enfields

With preps and fundraising for our UNICEF India Adventure well underway, this weekend I’ve been reading up about the cars and bikes we’ll be using on our epic 1,000-km roadtrip. As both a car and bike enthusiast, one of the key drawcards of this particular adventure was the chance to be part of a rally of classic motorbikes and motor cars – and by all accounts, the Enfields and Ambassadors are as classic as they come.

Cruising India astride a Royal Enfield Bullet

Some of the team, including Charley and Marc, will be riding 350cc Royal Enfield Bullets. Originally launched in the UK in 1949, the Bullet came to be used by the Indian government from 1955 as a bike for its police and army to patrol its country’s rugged border areas. Now based in Chennai, Royal Enfield is the oldest motorbike brand in the world still in production. The Bullet’s excellent pedigree bodes well for some of the more challenging parts of our route across Southern India – and for Charley, it will certainly be a very different kind of ride from his more customary 1200 Beemer GS!

The trusty Ambassador on the road in India

The rest of the team will be driving 1950s-style Hindustan Ambassadors. Originally based on the British Morris Oxford III model (1948), the “Ambi” (as it’s fondly known) is now considered a quintessentially Indian car, dubbed “the king of Indian roads”. Although they look quite sturdy, their engines are only apparently capable of 37 horsepower and their handling is generally thought to be “temperamental” at best – so it’ll be interesting to see how they fare in some of the mountainous and unpredictable terrain we’ll encounter in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
                                                                                                          Reading up about these brilliant cars and bikes, I can’t wait to be on the road in India to see how these classic vehicles – not to mention their riders/drivers – hold up! It seems pretty inevitable that we’re going to have some challenges along the way, given the ever-changing terrain and the unique handling styles needed for these cars and bikes – but hey, that’s all part of the adventure!
                                                                                                                             

Classic Indian Adventure with Charley Boorman

Jeanie Davison, Producer
Sahara Trek, 2010

Back in 2010, Long Way Round producer Russ Malkin and I took part in a trek across the Sahara Desert on the Morocco-Algeria border to raise money for UNICEF. I filmed, photographed and blogged about the adventure for the charity and had a brilliant time doing it.

So more than a year on, I’m excited to announce my next UNICEF adventure. On 30th November 2012, I’ll be undertaking a 1,000-km journey across Southern India. There’ll be a group of us, including the indefatigable Charley Boorman (Long Way Round, By Any Means, Extreme Frontiers) and Motor Cycle News editor Marc Potter, riding Royal Enfield motorbikes and driving classic 1950s Ambassador motor cars.

Starting in Port Kochi, we’ll head north along Kerala’s coast and then inland to Mysore on a challenging route that will see us tackling everything from dense tiger-infested jungle, hairy switchback mountain roads, chaotic villages, and incredible tropical backwaters. We’ll also be visiting a UNICEF project or two along the way, to see how the money we raise is being put to good use delivering life-saving projects for children in India.

Charley Boorman, UNICEF Ambassador
ⓒ By Any Means/Big Earth, with thanks

Once again, I’ll be filming, photographing, blogging and Tweeting about the adventure for UNICEF, including plenty of updates and insights from Charley and Marc. For me, this is a huge undertaking – not just to plan the coverage and wrangle kit for the event, but also to find sponsors, both individual and corporate. This time, I’ve pledged to raise around £4,500 before we set off.

Looking forward to sharing this adventure with you all. India awaits!

Jeanie