Thick greens, lush leaves, and undulating grounds await you. Welcome to the 2019 Borneo Equator Expedition.
This mysterious place lulls you into its home, only to show you its challenging and sometimes treacherous environment when you least expect it. Mud holes and deep v-notches, severe humidity and torrential rain, along with trying long days lie ahead— during the 2019 Borneo Equator Expedition the jungle in Borneo beckons you to be a visitor.
The jungle stands proud, only to accept the willing and capable to traverse through it successfully. You need to pave your own way, but only if she allows it.
The 2019 Borneo Equator Expedition wasn’t a race, it was more of a test of endurance and mental fortitude. EarthCruiser’s Founder, Lance Gillies, and EC owner Jim wanted to drive all of Borneo along the Equator, moving from east to west. The Camel Trophy has done a section of this but to Lance’s recollection, no one’s tried off-roading on the line through the entire island in this direction.
The expedition was expertly organized by the I0F (Indonesian Off-road Federation), their on the ground preparation was first class and very professional. Lance’s trip to Borneo was invitation only; he was part of the only out-of-country team in attendance. Lance was gone one month and came back just before 2019 rolled into the New Year.
“Things like this are really healthy for me to do,” Lance says. “To go back and refresh one’s memory about some of those skills.”
Lance goes on to say, If you get it wrong, it’s going to hurt. You need to prepare for damage to your truck.” It is a lovely reminder to be ready work as team and accept we are not always in control, things happen.
“Sometimes you get on a logging road; sometimes it’s thick brush you have to cut through. You’re faced with all types of conditions, from complete saturation of Mother Nature and her jungle to an allowance of a tiny single-track pathway. You push on, adjust, and find your way.”
About 19 heavily equipped, off-road-ready vehicles started the Borneo trip. Lance did the trip in his outfitted Nissan Patrol SUV. In addition to rock sliders and winches, recovery equipment and food, most 4x4s rolled on 35” extreme mud tires. As with several rigs, Lance’s Nissan Patrol had issues along the way. Thankfully, it wasn’t anything that the crew and locals couldn’t fix together—even if there was a language barrier. Lance says breaking down or traveling in Borneo is a good wake-up call.
“It doesn’t matter if you’ve been up for 20 hours, or 3. You’re exhausted, hungry, tired, haven’t showered for a week, or if you’re frustrated, thirsty, and getting cranky—everyone is on the same page. It’s fabulous,” Lance says with a smile. “It’s what traveling is. Not necessarily in a difficult place, but in a different place.”
“Day or night, you push forward,” he states. “You’re prepared for emergencies. You plan for the worst and hope for the best.” It’s about staying super calm, no matter what happens (like an accident you happened upon only by coincidence.) This goes for any kind of journey, no matter if you’re jungle adventuring in Borneo or traveling the tarmac throughout the United States—being prepared for the unexpected is key.”
Lance is an experienced off-roader and survivalist. “When you get into the bush … you have to use what you have.” They brought everything along with them but busted a brake line on the way. Luckily another team had a spare that they could work with. The fittings didn’t fit, so by using “vernacular architecture” (in other words, a modern-day MacGyver move), they were able to fix the Patrol and move forward.
“What works is what counts,” Lance states. Come up with different uses for what you have, and especially, stay calm. These are things everyone can learn along the way—no matter what adventure you’re on.
During their month-long expedition, they faced several challenges but finished the trip successfully.
Lance and the entire Borneo team were in a position where they had to work together. “Practice what you preach,” he says. “It’s vital we understand and can complete various methods of travel and vehicle recovery. We can then share what we learn with [EarthCruiser] owners and our crew.”
When Lance started EarthCruiser in Australia, he made a promise to his customers and employees—that he, along with his team, would create the very best vehicles, allowing owners to travel the world successfully. Additionally, that they would continue to develop and refine their overlanding skills, ensuring that the EarthCruiser product evolved to meet every challenge
“The key is that you have to keep doing trips like this.” Lance and the EarthCruiser crew firmly believe this. It’s a great way to share the knowledge they have and to translate it into the EarthCruiser brand.
The reason for this trip to Borneo, as well as others Lance has taken, boils down to one thing. “It all comes back to our promise to our customers. It’s our fit for purpose. “We work hard to incorporate every lesson learned into our vehicles, so that our customers can venture out with confidence.”
There are a lot of unknowns when you travel, but Lance and his EarthCruiser team are prepared to get themselves in challenging situations in order to mitigate them, so they can teach their owners the best way possible to be equipped, educated, and adaptive. If their customers want to travel the world, then EarthCruiser’s goal is to help guard them against potential problems, tribulations, or unexpected happenings.
“We want our owners to go out and have a wonderful time traveling,” Lance exclaims. He wants EarthCruiser owners to see stuff other people only dream of. “Our customers have chosen to spend a portion of their lives traveling with [EarthCruiser]. We, as an organization, have a responsibility to do the very best we can, in whatever way possible, to help make that happen for them.” It’s important to EarthCruiser to keep their end of the agreement to ensure that happens.