Firstly, a confession. This is not my Range Rover – although I do own a similar 4.4 SDV8 L405, but in dark green, with brown leather and small(ish) wheels. It’s been nicknamed the Underfinch. But I had such a blast hauling an Airstream International 684 caravan on the back of one from the Lake District to Morocco, before mine was delivered, that I thought you might enjoy hearing about the adventure…
For the last few years European-spec Airstreams have been being designed and built just behind the M6’s Tebay services. My company needed to take pictures of them, but thought Morocco would offer a better backdrop than the UK’s motorway network – but it’s from there that our journey began.
We’d chosen to take the Brittany Ferry to Santander as it cuts 750 miles each way off the drive – and it was the voyage further south that excited us. After two nights and 33 hours onboard the ferry, we were more than ready to set off for Morocco, via Bilbao. We’d be there in 36 hours’ time, and passing back through Spain in just six days.
The first night in the trailer was at Camping Fuentes Blancas in Burgos, where we arrived in the pitch black and freezing cold. Before dawn, we were off again, a mere 566 miles to do in order to reach our next overnight halt.
As we reached altitudes more than 1000m above sea level, the big Rangie finally seemed to show a sign of weakness, as it failed to maintain the speed set on the cruise control during a particularly long, steep drag. But I thought I’d see what happened if I over-rode the cruise control and pushed the throttle to the floor. Blimey… five tonnes shot forward like a sports car.
We arrived at our second campsite after dark again, but to our mounting excitement, we could see the lights of Africa across the Straits of Gibraltar. We took the short ferry trip across them a few hours later. Ceuta is a fascinating place, yet the most memorable thing about it was the border crossing – the other side of which lay Morocco.
At the Moroccan border, I don’t think any of us had ever felt more conspicuous. Far above us, soldiers looked down menacingly from the top of a cliff, all around us was a traffic jam almost exclusively consisting of battered cars from the 1980s, in front were dozens of CCTV cameras, guarded by more soldiers: and then there were the three of us; photographer Matt, my colleague Martin, and me, in 42 feet and £175,000 of the shiniest, most expensive British-registered aluminium imaginable. We could hardly have stood out more.
As we climbed up through the hills, the elation of making it past the customs post mingled with the excitement of driving on real African roads, and we picked our way through some beautiful mountains for an hour or so, enjoying the double-takes our amazing rig caused at every turn.
At Camping Ocean Bleu a, beach-side site outside Casablanca, we chatted to some of our neighbours, including a Cornish couple with a baby, who were heading south, seeing where the road took them. Another Brit, Mark, pitched his tent nearby after riding in on his battered MZ motorbike, which he’d bought for £100 before his trip to the Sahara and back. Next morning, we gave him a cup of tea and Marmite on toast to give him a taste of home. As he packed his tent away while I played on my iPad, I felt a bit of a fraud, but when I checked out the campsite’s loos, I was glad I’d brought my own…
We set off for Marrakech, and before it got too crowded there, headed out of town and up into the Atlas Mountains. We picked our way up ever steeper mountain roads, something we had to do ever more slowly as the road got narrower, the hairpins tighter and the drops at the side more precipitous. And then we were at the top – in Oukaïmeden, at an altitude of 2700m. Refuelled, we then drove down the mountain and by lunchtime were in the desert.
The next day we pointed the Range Rover north for an even more intense return leg, realising how very doable this trip would be if you had just a couple of weeks on your hands.
If you’re going to have a mad trans-continental dash, I can’t think of anything better to do it in than an Airstream – especially with a new Range Rover up front.
Published in the September 2013 issue of Land Rover Owner International. Download a digital issue, or order a back issue by calling 01858 438884.