Jungle, desert and mountains: the new Land Rover Discovery tackles a Land Rover Experience in South America. Diaries of a Land Rover Discovery convoy:
It was getting late and the air was beginning to cool after a hot day. Our dusty, 16-strong Land Rover Discovery convoy snaked across the desert, nearing the Pacific coast. Between us and our camp stood a formidable-looking chain of 80m-high sand dunes.
We were with the winners of Land Rover Experience Deutschland 2017 Tour competition. An IT project manager from Hamburg, a pilot from Aachen and an estate agent from Berlin were among the intrepid six picked from 35,000 applicants.
We’d flown to Lima before hopping on a charter plane to the small town of Pisco on the edge of the Sechura desert. This was the starting point for our 14-day exploration of Peru’s rich culture and epic wilderness – pitting the ultimate family SUV against some of the most extreme environments on the planet.
Loading up in Pisco, we made full use of each Discovery’s 2,406 litres of luggage space, packing everything we’d need for the two-week adventure.
Our first day started on relatively good roads through towns and villages, but soon the asphalt ran out and ahead of us lay a seemingly endless expanse of desert. With reduced air pressure in the DuraTrac tyres for better traction, each Discovery tackled the soft sand with relative ease.
After 90km we arrived at those dunes. The Discovery has Land Rover’s next-generation Terrain Response 2 technology, with a Sand mode for such conditions. With 60-degree slopes and 80m high, this would be the biggest test yet.
As we approached we gradually increased our speed to reach the summit in one go without losing traction. We picked our paths, weaving our way across the firmest terrain, following direction from the lead vehicle via the in-car communications system. The wheels whipped sand high into the air but the 340HP, 3.0-litre V6 engine was more than a match for the terrain.
A Discovery copes equally well downhill and as we carefully crept down the sand dune on the other side the setting sun glistened on the Pacific Ocean in front of us.
Our next stop couldn’t have been more different. We headed along the great Pan-American Highway, hugging the coastline before turning inland and climbing 3,200m into the Andes to the village of Chavin, surrounded by steep grasslands with herds of grazing llamas. We visited the village meeting point which had recently been renovated with help from Land Rover, before joining the locals for an evening of music and dancing.
Mist swirled around the mountains on day three as we pushed on to the highest point of the tour, the village of Tana at 4,800m above sea level. Our mission was to present new furniture to a school. The air was thin but the unstoppable Discovery convoy made light work of the steep climb.
The following day we descended steep mountain tracks, along a 200km route to the lively trading centre of Huancayo, the mid-way point of our Land Rover Experience tour. In the shadow of the mountains, each Discovery was checked over and refuelled. With sand dunes and mountains ticked off, we were ready for the next part of our adventure which would lead us deep into the jungle and on the much anticipated Machu Picchu.