When Overlanding in Africa the right vehicle is as much about you as the 4×4.
If you can believe it, there are OVERLANDERS who actually peddle their bikes around the world.
We also met a man who has traveled the world’s highways with his motorcycle and side car for the past 10 years. He does go home to visit his wife in France for a month or two each year. ;})
Another amazing little gal from Japan was two years into her 4 year solo journey with a backpack, a suitcase and public transportation.
While admirable, these methods are too exposed and uncomfortable for old farts like us. So I started researching trucks and jeeps and things that go.
I came up with 3 or 4 options that fit our budget and sense of capability, nostalgia, comfort and dependability. These options will be discussed later.
What we settled on was a 2001 Land Rover Defender TD5 fully kitted for self-sufficient OVERLANDING.
I know the hardcore Defender crowd is disappointed that I didn’t get an older 300 TDI where you can fix anything anywhere magically in 10 minutes with bubble gum and bailing wire.
But please, I had to stand on the brakes to get the 300 TDI to stop, stand on the gas to get it to reach 100kph, and stand in my seat to take the rough ride and noise.
Also after 4 months of looking I only found one I thought I could trust with 400,000km on the clock. It sold before I could pick up the phone.
Sure there is more to go wrong with the TD5 given the addition of power assisted brakes and steering, turbo charger, intercooler, noise reduction, and yes the dreaded computer chip, but these are proven technologies that I trust and need.
After reading lots of fear mongering “what if” reports mostly from Land Cruiser owners I found few actual troubles in the field (accept of course with the newer Puma models).
In fact my electrician with 15 years specializing in Land Rovers only replaced one faulty TD5 brain box and a few flooded ones.
Chicken Little could probably also find fault with straddling tanks of highly flammable explosive liquids but we turn on the ignition every day without question.
Though still a bit like an old tractor the TD5 is a joy to drive even for my wife, which would not have been the case with the 300 TDI on or off road.
I also chose the 2001 model because it gave Land Rover 3-4 years to work out the bugs and it was just before they had to add all the admissions controls in 2002.
I must admit to trepidation for the first 10,000 km. However, other than normal wear and tear stuff (tires brakes and a bent tie rod) the vehicle has performed fantastically in all conditions accept huge bolder/cliff obstacles which I may have to leave to the hard core professionals.
So I feel we now have the best of all worlds; comfort and power on the tarmac and gravel (80%+ of most OVERLANDING), the famous Land Rover off road guts, and don’t forget the nostalgia of driving the Icon of the African experience.
ENJOY THE DAY AND DO GOOD.
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