In May 2004, 31 crews from 14 countries participated in 4x4xplore's first Great Tour of China. They were the privileged guests of the Chinese authorities, the first to be issued with permits to use their own vehicles to tour some of the country's most remote and spectacular areas. It was an unforgettable experience for all who took part.
Following requests decided to run the event again in 2006 but this time as well as 4x4s we allowed a limited number of classic cars to participate, by invitation only. This would not have been practicable on the first event in 2004. As an ordinary car would not have been able to get through the major road construction works in Tibet and south west China. But these had all finished by 2006, and the whole route was suitable for well prepared classic cars.
The second opportunity took 15 vehicles on a similar 11,000km journey in 2006, starting from the Great Wall of China on Wednesday 26 April and finishing at the gates of Hong Kong on Thursday 25 May.
It was a unique journey of discovery into the heart and soul of this vast nation of a billion people. China was a truly fascinating place; where we witnessed at first hand the huge and rapid changes that are transforming it from a simple agrarian culture into one of the greatest economic powers on earth. We met the amazing, friendly, hospitable Chinese and experienced one of the world's great cultures, and cuisines.
Along the way, we saw some of the world's greatest wonders, like the Great Wall and Xi'an's Terracotta Warriors. We visited historic cities and ancient Buddhist monasteries, and saw giant pandas, yaks and water buffalo. We travelled some of the highest roads in the world, and gazed in awe at the mightiest mountains on earth. We traversed a land of rich and varied beauty, truly visiting Shangri La.