I've always felt that owning a Defender - the archetypal Land Rover - involves a commitment to use it as it has always intended to be used. So, after a modest trip to the mountains of the Czech Republic and Slovakia last summer, my son Frederik and I found ourselves ready to take our Land Rover Defender 110 for a longer, more exotic journey.
We like to travel to remote regions and countries, and felt that a trip from Sweden to North Africa would be a good next step. As trips to Morocco have been made many times before, we easily found all the information we needed on the internet.
Our plan wasn't to drive in extreme conditions, but for peace of mind we added front protection, tree sliders and additional recovery points. Then we fitted a roof rack, awning, tent, raised air intake, window grilles, seat risers and a new steering wheel. With these relatively basic modifications you can drive long distances in the knowledge you're equipped to deal with most off-road obstacles you're likely to meet.
After spending November and December planning, Frederik and I left Sweden in January on the Trelleborg-Rostock ferry and drove through Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Italy, heading for Genoa, where hopping on the Genoa-Tangier ferry reduced our mileage by about 1250 miles. Once in Morocco, we drove south from Tangier via Meknes, over the Atlas Mountains to Merzouga and the edge of Sahara. We headed south of the Atlas Mountains and then west for Zagora. Turning north towards Marrakesh, we passed the High Atlas Mountains once again.
In Europe we'd stuck to the highways to save time, but in Morocco we used narrow paths and desert tracks, and found it to be a fascinating and beautiful country with breathtaking landscapes and wildlife. The Moroccans were friendly and helpful, especially the Berber people in the south.
Driving in January gave us a touch of winter weather when traversing the mountains of the Alps, the High Atlas and the Pyrenees, but in the Sahara we enjoyed summer temperatures. Another advantage of driving outside the high season was that Morocco wasn't crowded with tourists, and the traffic on the roads wasn't too intense.
We covered about 1300 miles in Morocco, on-road and off, and exited from Ceuta where we took the ferry to Algeciras. Then we drove through Spain, and Andorra, over the Pyrenees, through France, Belgium, Netherlands and finally Denmark.
When we got back to Sweden, we'd added a total of 4400 miles to the odometer and 10 flags to the back of the Defender. Everything had worked perfectly.
This summer we're thinking of a shorter expedition to either the Baltic or the Balkans.
It's fun travelling in a Defender. People everywhere recognise you're in a vehicle that's built for adventure.
Originally featured in the July 2014 issue of Land Rover Owner International. Download a digital issue, or order a back issue by calling 01858 438884.
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