In 2004 the Donnavventura caravan traveled to the USA, along a most classic coast-to-coast route – from central South America to Alaska. The team crunched more than 35.000 chilometres, travelling all the way from the Caribbean region to the Arctic Ocean: a truly unprecedented feat of courage and sheer determination for that year brave explorers.
After a leisure swim with the dolphins in Miami, the caravan set off on brand new Mitsubishi 4x4 vehicles and drove along the Gulf of Mexico coastline, across Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. In Bandera, our excited explorers had a taste of true country-style life in what is worldwide acclaimed as the capital city of cow-boys.
Then the team zipped past swamps, lagoons and stretched of emerged sands, hampered in their progress by the fierce dampness of these places. Eventually the Donnavventura Grand Raid arrived in New Orleans and, after a brief visit to fabled Barbour Street, the team moved on to the little quaint village of San Pedro and the adjacent fishermen’s region of Campeche. The gilrs had more than one chance to ride magnificent horses, cow-boy style, and visit the fascinating dell’Art Car Museum in Houston, featuring most bizarre and eye-catching unique automobiles – one was entirely covered and decorated with seashells!
Driving through endless patches of wild and luxuriant vegetation, the team eventually arrived in Mexico and then in Belize and Guatemala – probably the most vibrating locations of the 2004 Grand Raid itinerary.
It was then time to visit Honduras and sail with small hand-made canoes to its mostly inhospitable region of Mosquitia.
The girls often used their machetes to literally cut a passage through the luxuriant and thick mangroves and banana trees. They also had to go fishing and sleep in the very heart of the jungle, on makeshift hammocks and minimum protection from the harshly challenging environment. Thank God somebody had packed bug nets before leaving!
After exchanging canoes for their trustworthy pickups, the Donnavventura explorers headed North, often aided by a police escort for safety reasons. Eventually the caravan reach Acapulco and took an Italian ship from Topolobampo to Baja California. From the emerald waters of Puerto Escondido, along the red sand tracks across cactai, the caravan reached this Californian State, welcomed by friendly and extremely supportive Customs officers.
Once in San Diego, everybody hit the road again, but this time on roaring Harley Davidson motorcycles unleashed along legendary Route 66. Los Angeles, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Venice Beach… a true American-style extravaganza!
The team could not resist the temptation of a quick, but mesmerizing visit to Las Vegas, Nevada, where this astounding city of lights gloriously impacts with the barren desert plains all around.
Rafting down the Colorado River, the Donnavventura team eventually explored the famous Grand Canyon, also using extremely practical helicopters.
Finally, Monument Valley welcomed the arrival of the team with its world acclaimed cow-boy movie glamorous locations – gunslingin’ anybody?!
Going past Navajo territories, the caravan reach Colorado, Nebraska and Montana. Eventually trading their pickups for native horses, everybody had the perfect chance to mix and mingle with American Indians, while learning more about their culture and centuries-old traditions.
With winter closing in, the Donnavventura reporters prepared themselves for the rigid Canadian temperature, shortly before crossing the border and arriving in Calgary. Some further exploration of the Northwest Territories, with their native tribues of Inuviks and Eskimos – in the cosy village of Tuktoyaktuk – revealed more and more snow falling down on endless frozen plains.
Later on, Alaska open its frigid doors to the Donnavventura Grand Raid, while our brave reporters decided to challenge treacherous icy tracks, thanks to a special driving permit issued by the very FBI. Once in Prudhoe Bay, everybody took some glamorous pics of the Arctic Ocean, then proceeded on frosty roads leading to the capital city of Anchorage – some 5.000 chilometres away.
What a most fascinating and exciting Grand Raid!