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Test by Africa

Magazine “4×4 Four-wheel drive” № 9 (119) September 2013 Authors: Yuri Zhupan, Fedoseev Vitaly. Photo: Yuri Zhupan.

At the end of December last year, four brave travelers and one mighty Land Rover Defender 110 SUV set off from Russia to Africa. For almost a month they hung out in different countries, traveled more than 15,000 km during this time, saw many cultures, peoples, customs and an incredible amount of natural beauty. As in a kaleidoscope, every day something completely new was discovered for travelers.

The preparation of the car for such a long and difficult trip turned out to be quite large-scale, mainly thanks to sponsors who responded to this idea. So the Defender got a roll cage, a high-capacity fuel tank, powerful LED optics, and Polyurethan LLC from Novosibirsk provided a complete set of bushings and silent blocks made of polyurethane.


So, on the evening of December 28, having plunged into the car, the team taxied onto the M1 highway and took the direction to Poland. Friendly Belarusian customs, neat Polish villages, New Year’s in Prague, a German brewery, Austrian service, Italian temperament, Monaco’s brilliance, French crowds – all the colors of Europe flew outside the Land Rover window in 10 days.

But the beauty is more interesting to passengers, but the driver is more interested in the roads themselves – whether they are the country roads of Poland (the quality, nevertheless, surpassing Russian ones) or the mountain serpentine of the Dolomites.

We should also mention Côte d’Azur (the same Cote d’Azur). The old road between the cities of the Côte d’Azur caused a storm of emotions among the organizer of the expedition, Yuri Zhupan:

“At 3 o’clock my attention narrowed to a narrow strip, I passed turn after turn, forgetting what I was driving on. Tunnels, serpentines, embankments, open tunnels with columns, reminiscent of balconies, the sea on one side and mountains on the other, breathtaking views, Ferrari rushing towards. “

And at the end of the long journey, the hot Sahara desert awaited our heroes.


Having stood in line for the ferry and crossed Gibraltar, the expedition entered Morocco. Climbing the serpentine along the sea, the team visited the Tazzeku National Park, with its beautiful gorges and intricate caves. Then I will move on to the city of Fez, and, having passed it through, along a mountain road that smoothly passed into the bed of a dried river, we reached the last point before entering the Sahara Desert – the city of Ephrud. And just 15 kilometers from the city, travelers were met by sand dunes …

Yuri Zhupan recalls:

“The time has come to feel like a pilot of the Dakar racing car. In the very first dune, we lower the wheels, since the car does not go at all on the slightest rise without proper acceleration. Here with a pressure of 0.7-0.8 atm. something incredible begins! At first we were careful, because we are alone, there is not a soul around: no tourists, no locals – no one, alone in this whole huge sandbox.

It turned out to feel the sand and dunes, having found an old track from a car, on which tourists were obviously rolling – the track went simply along an unimaginable trajectory, describing arcs around the dunes, climbing the steepest slopes and passing through jumps. It’s scary to turn off, you can’t slow down – and he repeated all the somersaults until he had the opportunity to take a breath on a flat area between the dunes. “


Having dashed enough on the dunes, the expedition went further into the depths of the desert. And again a word to the participant of the rally:

“The desert is dust. Endless dust, along which a road is laid, in which absolutely nothing grows. There is simply no soil here, it seems that if you start digging, the shovel will just crash into endless dust. The track may be knee-deep, but it doesn’t even feel like bumps, the car just floats. And if you get in the way of a small sharp rise, like dust, like water, it will overwhelm the car and slowly slide over the windows and the body. In the cabin, you can breathe only through the scarf, and regardless of the quality of the seals and the size of the slots.

And the desert is also stones. Huge stone fields stretching over the horizon. The stones may be as small as pebbles, or they may be a rock the size of a five-story building, but they are scattered in a completely chaotic manner on the ground. The trajectory of movement here is more like a snake that winds between the cobblestones. “

That, perhaps, is all there is in the Sahara Desert. The beauties around have long been gone, nothing has become – empty. The whole ride turned into a solid struggle with rocks and dust. And when, after 80 kilometers, the opportunity arose to turn onto the normal road leading back to civilization, it was immediately used, and everyone breathed a sigh of relief.

And then – again the road to the Strait of Gibraltar, a ferry to Spain, and a long, arduous road home to Nizhny Novgorod.


For such a long and difficult journey, the car has experienced very severe loads, but it got out of all the vicissitudes without any problems. The polyurethane suspension deserves special thanks. There were fears that it would not withstand the African weather, but all its parts remained intact, confirming the manufacturer’s promised durability and resistance to temperature fluctuations.

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