I know this is not the first time I write about Iceland. But I can’t help it, this land has a magnetic effect on me. I have spent 3 complete months in it’s amazing highlands in the last 5 years. But last summer, the summer of 2014 was something special. Read more
Vehicle-supported, self-reliant adventure travel, exploring remote locations and interacting with other cultures.
It’s all about the journey.
This trip we headed out to a lesser visited area of Australia, the Northern Territories is the least populated region. Just the way we like it. Cattle-stations, gigantic Mango Tree plantations and a lot of space. it’s also aboriginal country. Our plan was to hire a 4×4 vehicle with a rooftop tent and go camping in national parks. We rented the most reliable and best known expedition vehicle in the world: a 1994 Toyota Landcruiser V8 4500cc. Australia is the most 4×4 friendly country in the world. Everybody drives a fully equipped off-road vehicle. As the distances between villages can easily be a few 100 kilometers everybody carries at least 2 extra tyres and basic survival equipment.
This time we wanted to explore the Hoggar mountain range in the south of Algeria.
The Mercedes G-Wagon is assembled by hand in Graz by Puch. Originally ordered as a military vehicle during the seventies by the Shah of Iran, a great shareholder of Mercedes Benz at that time. It has been in non-stop production since 1979. It’s design is the everlasting timeless type and the off-road capabilities are legendary. This car has truly become a cult car worldwide.
It’s a 1984 280GE with the Mercedes 2.8 M110 engine installed, which is known to be one of the most reliable petrol engines around. It’s not controlled by computers or sophisticated electronics, meaning you can work on it yourself and it’s more reliable during overland expeditions.
It’s a winter night in februari back in 2006 when Sofie and I first talked about an overland trip to the Sahara. Neither of us had ever undertaken an adventure of this scale, and we didn’t know what to expect. So we started talking to people who already went there, got some books, made some lists and started preparing. We were going to leave home in september, so we had a good half year to get ready. Good, because there was a lot to do. We had to get visas, a “carnet de passage”, plan our route, get he right maps etc…We also had to prepare our car for this trip. A brand new Land Rover Defender td5 was going to be kitted out with a roof top tent, a dual battery system, a fridge and some decent tyres. September arrived and we drove to the south of spain and embarked on the night ferry from Almeria to Melilla (a Spanish enclave in Morocco). We crossed the border in Nador and it was very obvious that we were entering Africa. Everything became ten times as colorful and chaotic in an instant. We were lucky to be fluent in French and soon we were on our way.
We were cruising Iceland’s magnificent Westfjords when out of the fog a beautiful old shipwreck appeared. It was quietly resting on the beach as if mother nature had put it here after a terrible storm. Garðar BA 64 is the oldest steel-ship in Iceland. It was build in 1912 in Norway and almost 70 years later in 1981 was beached in The Latrabjarg Peninsula in the West Fjords of Iceland. And it was no accident. In december 1981 the owners of ship thought it was no longer fit for duty. In those thays it was the custom to sink a ship at sea when it went out of service. But instead the captain of the ship rammed it ashore at Skápadalur valley in Patreksfjörður.
Today Garðar patiently awaits it’s inevitable rusty fate in the sand. She sure makes one hell of a photo opportunity though!
The picture was taken with a Nikon D2x and a Sigma 14mm 2,8 lens.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to praise Germany’s perfect engineered autobahn. Nor am I going to get all lyrical about those switchbacks in the Alpes. The best roads…those have to be roads that are so exhilarating that they are the very reason to be there. If you are on the best roads no destination matters. You just want to see the very best nature has to offer glide by. On the best roads you never want to arrive, you just want those jaw dropping sceneries to keep hitting you. So where might those roads be you wonder? Well, they are in Iceland!
“The Berm”, Western Sahara…Never heard of it? Neither did we, until we planned a trip from the North of Morocco to the West of Mali. The Moroccans built a huge wall of sand known as “the Berm” which runs for 2700 kilometers from Tata in the south of Morocco all the way to Guergarrat at the border with Mauretania. It is littered with mine fields along it’s base and heavily guarded by the military. What’s the story then?
That’s how I felt about my Land Rover Defender yesterday. It’s not comfortable or practical at all. Just like expensive female footwear It serves little other purpose than make you look good. Every 10 hours I drive the thing I spend one hour fixing something. If she wasn’t looking so freaking gorgeous I wouldn’t put up with this sh*t. Despite all her bad manners I keep looking forward to every ride. Once you leave the tarmac the little truck pulls some Jeckill & Hide magic on you though. It feels like it just belongs there, and it runs circles around every other 4wd on the market. Yeah, it breaks down even faster now, but you can fix it with some inguinuity and a leatherman, so who cares…Since me and the little Defender are going to do a lot of posing together, I think we are a good match. Watch this space! I am going to treat it to some nice jewellery (read accessories), teach it to behave and try to make it into the perfect little overland companion.
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