What’s the Adventure?
As the plane dropped suddenly on its approach, I woke up confused and a little dazed.
I was en route from Heathrow to Corsica, and as we made our final descent, out of the window I could see half-moon bays of white sand and clear water – but what were those vast peaks stretching back from the coastline? Had I boarded the wrong flight?
The captain allayed my fears – we were about to land at Bastia, the Mediterranean island’s capital. And as I was here to drive Land Rovers, the sight of some pointy, hard landscape could only make things more interesting.
I was here to join a six-vehicle trip around Corsica, led by Atlas Overland. Months earlier, I’d disputed claims by our guide, Alex Smith, that Corsica offered some of the best off-road driving in Europe. The only way to settle the argument was to see it first-hand.
Our Favourite Bit?
Gorges de la Restonica. My head bangs from the previous night’s wine, although it could have been the stinky goat’s cheese I had just before bed.
The scenery in the gorge is stunning, but Alex can’t take his eye off the road or we’ll surely perish. It’s scarily narrow, with room for only one vehicle most of the time. Passing places exist, but the distance between them is stupidly long. On more than one occasion we have to reverse, sometimes around blind corners, to allow an oncoming vehicle to pass.
I can practically hear Alex unclench as we reach the end of the Gorge.
Back in the mountains again we get to drive some excellent and challenging trails. The vehicles constantly have to straddle washouts and v-gullies made more precarious by the loose ground. Everyone gets through unscathed and I get some great shots of the collected Land Rovers’ superb articulation as they drop wheels and kick up dust.
Making it out alive
The climb back up from the beach is brilliant fun. But three days’ rough driving does take its toll and the rest of the group have been out here for 10 days, so Atlas tends to finish its trip with a couple of days on a campsite near the beach. It gives everyone a chance to chill out, enjoy the cafés and restaurants in Bastia and get ready for the long drive back across France.
I sometimes wonder why more people don’t just get in their Land Rovers and set off into the unknown, making their own adventure as they go.
But – as someone pointed out to me on this trip – when you work as much as most of us do, there simply isn’t enough time to research, plan and navigate a trip like this. That’s where companies such as Atlas come in.
The full story can be found in the October 2011 issue of LRO. Download a digital issue, or order a back issue by calling 01858 438884.