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Onelife 27

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VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY To

VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY To most people, crawling through narrow tunnels, speeding across vast sand dunes and encountering snakes and scorpions – all while filming a TV show – may seem an unconventional way to get to know your cousin. But then, not everyone’s cousin is famed explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes. For Joseph Fiennes, Hollywood actor and star of the current hit TV show The Handmaid’s Tale, exploring Egypt with Sir Ranulph (‘Ran’) had seemed like an excellent idea – the chance for him to fulfill a lifelong ambition and find out more about his illustrious cousin, whom he barely knew. “But then, suddenly, you’re there and the idea has morphed into reality and you feel very ill-prepared,” he says. “I tried not to show it, but when we arrived, I was a little apprehensive.” There to capture his apprehension was a National Geographic crew, filming for a new three-part series that aired in spring 2019. The show follows the Fiennes as they retrace parts of Ran’s 1969 expedition along the Nile river, from Alexandria to Lake Victoria. When Onelife caught up with the two Fiennes, they took pleasure in sharing their experiences of filming in Egypt, as well as their favorite anecdotes. The two make for an engaging and often amusing double act: Ran, the self-deprecating, unflappable adventurer; Joe, the eloquent, pun-loving actor. Often dubbed the world‘s greatest living explorer, Ran has set records exploring both Poles, climbed Everest, run marathons on seven continents and cut off his own frostbitten finger tips. “By contrast, I think the closest I had come to feeling fear was standing up on stage in front of a few hundred people,” 48-year-old Joe admits. “I was just hoping Ran wouldn’t be appalled by his younger cousin.” “And I thought it would have been the other way around,” quips Ran, 74. “You wondering, ‘What the hell is this doddering geriatric still up to?” For Joe, the trip represented a chance to test himself – “to see where my cut-off point is,” as well as connecting with a “near-mythical figure in the family and get an insight into the drive behind his incredible feats.” For Ran, it was the opportunity to revisit cherished memories and explore new sites. As on so many of Ran’s trips, Land Rover played a vital role in the latest Fiennes adventure. Joining the party was an equally versatile adventurer, a Land Rover Discovery. In the 30 years since the nameplate’s launch, the Discovery has enabled not only Ran, but also many renowned explorers, teams and good causes to complete challenging global expeditions, including the memorable journey of the millionth Discovery from Birmingham to Beijing in 2012. And it was in the Discovery that Joe got his first taste of off-road driving, tackling the imposing sand dunes of the Egyptian desert. “You know, we actually took off at one point,” says Ran drily. “Yes, I’d like to apologize again for that,” Joe replies. “We were heading up a huge dune and I remember Ran saying ‘More speed!’ I was supposed to slow down at the top, but we went careering over and down the other side. Gear everywhere, bones shaken. But Ran wasn’t fazed.” Nor by the poisonous snakes, scorpions and spiders the two encountered on a health and safety prep session near Cairo. “Ran has a handle on fear. I just wanted to prove to Ran that I could cope with anything expedition life threw at me,” Joe says. “Yes, you did rather well, actually,” muses Ran. The two recall crawling through tunnels barely one and a half feet high to reach recently discovered tombs near Al Minya. “Joe is very athletic and flexible, I couldn’t keep up with his speed,” Ran says. “If he was scared, he didn’t show it. But gosh, what an experience. To have the privilege of being one of the first people for thousands of years to see that chamber full of mummies – that alone made the whole trip well worthwhile.” And Joe was able to indulge his artistic side, too. As a more leisurely contrast to the Indiana Jones-style adventures, he took every available opportunity to get out his sketchbook or camera. “I loved wandering off or getting lost in a souk and just sitting down for five minutes to capture some of the beauty of Egypt.” From the Great Pyramids to the temples of Abu Simbel, Joe says there are sights and experiences that will stay with him for a lifetime. But importantly, he learnt more about his cousin, and about risk-taking, the power of perseverance and pushing boundaries. Ran nods, before adding: “And do you know what? If I had a preconceived notion of what an actor would be like in these circumstances, Joe is certainly completely different. I put it down to family DNA.” With the Land Rover Discovery set to power more far-flung expeditions in the decades to come, perhaps there’s time yet for more Fiennes family adventures. FOLLOW THE JOURNEY Relive the Fiennes‘ expedition across Egypt: visit natgeo.com/worldsgreatestexplorer IMAGES: COURTESY OF NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC 42

“ RAN HAS A HANDLE ON FEAR. I WANTED TO PROVE THAT I COULD HANDLE ANYTHING EXPEDITION LIFE THREW AT ME” European models shown. 43

 

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Onelife 27

 

Land Rover’s Onelife magazine showcases stories from around the world that celebrate inner strength and the drive to go above and beyond.

Land Rover vehicles go above and beyond, to help you make the most of your world. The latest issue of Onelife delivers this philosophy to your living room with evocative narrative and stunning photography. Experience a rich variety of perspectives from around the globe: from eco-innovators in China to road-testing in Greece and modernist architecture in Germany

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