The Vehicle – Land Rover Defender

Travelling around Africa you will see lots of Toyotas, and very few Land Rovers. Why is this? Lets consider Toyotas. They all look pretty much the same, they are very reliable and most South Africans will swear by them. Most hire companies use them and its always easy to get parts and get them fixed.

But, and it is a big but, they are just not that cool! Everywhere we went we took photos and videos of Landy doing her thing and she looked really cool in all of them. Everyone loves a Land Rover, even Toyota owners! And they are a fantastic conversation starter. In every village, town, campsite, border crossing and in the middle of nowhere people came up to us and started to chat; the car was always what started our conversations with all the wonderful interesting people we met along the way.

The downside is pretty well known. They are a bloody nightmare! They leak, a lot, and thats pretty annoying in England but in the rainy season in Africa it can be more than annoying. Right-hand corners cause a deluge of cold water onto the passenger and left ones onto the driver. Books, clothes, food and electronic equipment have to be constantly moved around to avoid damage and all in all it can be a pain. The good news is that aside from the short rainy season it really doesnt rain that much for most of the year in southern and eastern Africa.

Breakdowns can be frequent. We were fortunate, Keith knows this car inside out and back to front, is more than capable of fixing most things and we carried enough spares to virtually rebuild the bloody engine. When we explained that we were taking spares with us my brother very amusingly asked if our spares consisted of towing another Land Rover behind us.

Its also smelly, noisy and uncomfortable. So why did we take it on an overland trip through Africa for 15 months?

There is something quintessentially English about a Landy. It is part of the heritage of our countryside. We clamber into them with our dogs, shotguns and a brace or two of pheasants. Or chuck a few bales of hay into the back and plough through the snow to feed our animals in the winter. We use them every day to take the dogs somewhere different for a walk, go to the stable to see to the horses,  tow a trailer full of horse poo, pile it up with logs to see us through the winter months or just drive along lanes or over fields in the day to day work of people who live in the country. And thats not even touching on the demanding work they do for the British Army!

So what else would we use? Of course it had to be Landy. She had done pretty much all of the above with us (except the Army!) so what could she possibly come across in Africa that would be too much? And even if she did, we wouldn’t want to share our adventure with any other car, smells, bumps, leaks and breakdowns included.

We enjoyed looking at the adventures of other Land Rovers on this Facebook page:

Liuwa Plain
Land Rover Defender 1997 2.5TDi (Landy) in Zambia