It’s no secret amongst my friends that my dream trip is an overland expedition from Alexandria, Egypt to Cape Town, South Africa – preferably in a Land Rover Defender, thank you very much. But, I have to admit I’m a little envious of the journey that two Polish adventurers recently completed as well. Self described “car travel enthusiast” Arkady Paweł Fiedler and his friend/cameraman Albert Wójtowicz, made the first journey across Africa and into Europe, in a 100% pure electric vehicle, which couldn’t have been easy considering the infrastructure challenges that many African countries face.
The duo set out from Cape Town in a first generation Nissan Leaf equipped with a 30 kWh battery on what they call the Electric Explorer Expedition. According to the website, the vehicle was not modified in any way, and is essentially the same Nissan Leaf you would get were you to buy one a dealer and just drive it off the lot. The mere fact that such a small, electric powered vehicle, could make it all the way across Africa says a lot, although judging from the video below it wasn’t exactly easy.
Fiedler and Wójtowicz chose a path along the western side of Africa for their journey. They set out from Cape Town and made their way across South Africa, through Namibia, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, then into Congo itself, before proceeding through Cameroon, Nigeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, Gambia, Mauritania, and Morocco. From there, they jumped a ferry back to Europe and continued home.
The challenges they faced along the way were many. The roads weren’t always paved, easy to navigate, and smooth. They often found themselves in remote areas and the infrastructure for charging an electric car isn’t common throughout Africa. At times they were just praying to make it to the next settlement where they might be able pick up a small amount of charge. Frequent power outages, inefficient electrical grids, or complete lack of power altogether didn’t help their cause.
The video below gives us a sense of what this journey was like. As you’ll see, it wasn’t an easy road trip by any sense of the word, but it does seem like it was a great adventure. The clip serves as a preview for a longer documentary about their expedition which will come later. Judging from what we see here, it looks like it should be a fascinating one.