After 347 days, 27,000 miles, 16 countries, 14 punctures, and 4000 hours of sunshine-generated power, Gwyn Roberts arrived at his destination last month, completing his “Overland in the Sun” London to Cape Town adventure.
He completed the first 24,000 miles (to Mozambique) with three friends in a 21-year-old Landcruiser converted by Gwyn to use solar electricity.
The trip raised money and awareness for SolarAid, a British charity that fights global poverty by bringing clean, renewable power to poor rural areas of Africa, installing solar additions to schools and clinics.
Since his departure, October 11 2009, thousands of fans across the world followed the journey on his website, Facebook, Twitter, watching it unfold and experiencing the unparalleled friendship, generosity and hospitality of the African people Gwyn met.
Not only was the Landcruiser transport and home for the Englishman, it was also a photovoltaic solar power station. More than simply powering the car, it charged laptops, mobile phones, lights and cameras. It even boiled water.
The solar electricity ran the car’s cooling fan, power steering, stereo and lights normally powered by the engine’s drive belts. Consequently, fuel consumption was improved by nearly two miles per gallon, saving over 560 litres of diesel fuel, offsetting the precise amount of carbon emissions for his return flight from Johannesburg to London.
Roberts points to several tough spots on the trip: Being self-sufficient for six days while travelling through the harsh conditions of Kenya and Ethiopia and having to visit an eastern Sudan police station three times in one day.
But, mostly, the sun certainly shone brightly over Gwyn in Africa.
“It has been a great opportunity to show people across the continent how SolarAid can help to empower Africans living in poverty through solar energy additions.”
To learn more about the trip and donate, visit his campaign.