REUNITED WITH THE EXPEDITION ARIYA: Cartagena, Colombia
With some free time on their hands whilst waiting for the Expedition Ariya to complete its journey across the infamous Darién Gap, Chris & Julie took the chance to explore the vibrant and colourful streets of the port city, Cartagena.
Once safely reunited with their Ariya and eager to commemorate the moment, their first order of business was to visit the renowned fortress, Castillo San Felipe de Barajas, for a quick culture hit. Having ticked off their 10th country and with a renewed sense of adventure, the duo set their sights on the next leg of their journey and the wonders that awaited them in Ecuador and beyond.
THE MID POINT OF THE EARTH: Quito, Ecuador
The South America adventure kicked up a gear as the team reached the midpoint of the earth – the equator line near the energetic and friendly country capital, Quito. Crossing into the Southern Hemisphere was a symbolic moment with a huge amount of gratitude for the support received along the way, making the long days and nights completely worth it!
Doing what they do best, Chris & Julie continued their journey through Ecuador towards Cotopaxi National Park, where they were happy to set up their rooftop tent on the adaptable Ariya and spend the night amongst nature at the base of Cotopaxi, one of the world's tallest active volcanos.
Ready to go again, Chris, Julie, and the Ariya set off on their longest single charge drive through the breathtaking Ecuadorian mountains towards the Peruvian border, covering a whopping 327 kilometres! Whilst an unmodified Nissan Ariya e-4ORCE would breeze through this challenge, carrying an extra 260kg and a roof top tent, making this achievement all the more impressive!
SAND SURFING: Ica, Peru
Cruising smoothly down the Pan American highway was easy work for the Expedition Ariya, and when turning off track onto the sandy desert roads, the cars copper colour was camouflaged against the stunning golden landscapes. Arriving at the desert oasis of Ica, home to the biggest sand dunes in the continent, the duo had to sneak in some "down-dune" time, with the Ariya proving itself as the ultimate sand-surfing partner, effortlessly conquering this delicate terrain.
To master the challenging terrain the tires were deflated, redistributing the weight to gain extra traction and grip on the golden sea of sand. The combination of the Ariya's e-4ORCE all-wheel drive system in the thicker sand and the dual motor power distributing weight near perfectly resulted in a smooth and stable ride – a testament to the quality, engineering and adaptability of the car.
DRIVING THE DESERT ROADS: Atacama Desert, Chile
In the heart of Chile, the trusty Expedition Ariya demonstrated its abilities by gracefully navigating the dirt and gravel roads of the mountainous Atacama Desert, reaching elevations of 4800m. The Ariya shape-shifted into a tech-savvy mountain goat, elegantly gliding through the rocky roads by tapping into its e-4ORCE all-wheel drive system which masterfully manages torque and regenerative braking, making the uphill climbs and downhill descents look like a piece of cake.
Despite Atacama's enormous salt flats and emerald Altiplanic lagoons, the couple quickly learned that the region had much more to offer than desert trails and striking scenery. With the Atacama Desert experiencing some of the world's highest levels of solar radiation, renewable energy is a key priority for the region. The duo had the privilege of visiting some solar and wind farms, which represent a crucial facet of Chile's commitment to sustainable energy.
SLEEPING AMONGST THE STARS: Patagonia, Argentina
The couple zoomed down Patagonia's world-famous Ruta 40 on what Chris & Julie named "the most scenic and beautiful drive so far in South America". Whether it was the towering snowcapped mountains, sprawling glaciers, or pristine lakes, every twist and turn revealed more untamed natural beauty. As purple skies turned to darkness, the couple experienced a magical night sleeping amongst the stars in their faithful rooftop tent.
Having experienced Patagonia's breathtaking beauty, the couple headed towards Punta Arenas, the southernmost point of their South American journey, and the end of the fourth leg of the expedition. The countdown was on for the fifth and final stage of the Pole to Pole expedition in Antarctica!