Delhi-based Tushar Aggarwal and Sanjay Madan love to go on long drives. Very long drives.
They have just returned from a 90,000-km trip crossing almost 50 countries in the same car — the first Indians to achieve such a feat.
The epic trip started from Delhi in September last year took them through Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Australia, Africa, South America, North America, Europe and Turkey.
Tushar Aggarwal (left) and Sanjay Madan in Australia.
“I have always believed that a road trip around the world is the greatest adventure,” said Aggarwal. He had driven from London to Delhi in 2010. In 2012, he gave up an IT career to become a full-time roadie.
Such a journey required meticulous planning and quite a lot of money. The estimated cost was Rs 1 crore — covering fuel, hotel stay, visas and Carnet, a custom document to ship their vehicle to different countries.
“We only had a couple of lakhs, so we started looking for sponsors. We could only get Rs 15 lakhs — Rs 10 lakh from Jindal Panther and Rs 5 lakh from Toyota,” said Aggarwal.
“We took personal loans from banks to cover the rest,” said Madan, himself a roadie, and co- founder of Adventure Overland, a travel company.
So, on September 22 last year, the duo stared their epic drive. Accompanying them was D Prasad, a videographer to document their journey.
In Australia, their first stop, the duo covered a distance of about 18,000km. “There were stretches where we did not see a soul for hundreds of kilometres. We also took the ‘90 Mile Straight’ road. The road is so straight that you can leave the steering, sit back and relax for the entire 146km stretch,” said Aggarwal. “Since the food and accommodation was costly, we survived on bread and jam and lost 5kg each.”
In Africa, they drove from Kenya through Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe to Cape Town in South Africa, covering a distance of about 12,000 km. “Several Indian businessmen in Africa even paid for our stay,” said Aggarwal.
Madan said they chose not to use the GPS during the trip. “We lost our way many times, but that is part of discovering the world,” said Madan.
The trip was not without hiccups. In Argentina, they had to bribe officials at a port and in Bolivia, their vehicle broke down at 16,000 feet.
“It was night and the temperature was minus 10°C. The nearest town was five hours away. There was no one in sight. Finally, a truck came our way. The driver helped tow us to a village where we spent the night at a local’s house,” said Aggarwal.
From Ushuaia, the southern most city in the world to Deadhorse, the northern most city in the world in Alaska—the duo covered a distance of 27, 000 km
“We saw the famed Northern Lights there. It was a thrilling experience,” said Aggarwal.
Driving through the heart of the United States, they reached New York from where they left to Europe. “We covered 23 European countries. Amsterdam was the most difficult city to drive in because of the sheer number of cycles on the road!” said Aggarwal.
Madan observed that Australia offers the best quality of life; Americans are the most patriotic and South Americans were the kindest and most content.
“While people all over respected India as an IT powerhouse, they have a poor impression of Indians’ food habits. They believe that Indians are difficult when it comes to adapting to foreign food,” he said.
For them the difficulties of the trip pales in comparison to what they have gained. “You have to be a roadie to understand the joys of the road,” said Aggarwal.