Land Rover Defender Namibia trip
Back on track
In 2016 I said good-bye to the old Defender by taking the last Heritage model on a trip to Namibia. Now I finally repeated the 7000km journey in the new Defender.
The eternal question of what is Africa’s number one 4x4, Land Rover or Land Cruiser, has, since the dawn of the New Defender shifted inhouse. The majority of ‘old’ Defender owners is convinced, that the new one is not a real one. But, what is real? Contrary to Mercedes with the G, Toyota with the LC79 and Jeep with any new Jeep, Land Rover reinterpreted the Defender. Not to take away any of its heritage, but to honour it. Some of the confusion could have been avoided by simply calling it the Defender II.
With the New Defender Land Rover’s design team did an excellent job. It is not resembling the old one, but carries its DNA in many details, for instance the rear light configuration. And its unmistakable from any other SUV currently available, looking at it from front as well as from the rear.
And while the old one was a sturdy and rather gemütlich 4x4, the new one is an SUV, with all the 4x4 abilities. Exceptionally with the Explorer pack, fitted to the 110 D300 we took on this 7000km trip through Namibia. After saying goodbye to the Old Defender with a similar journey in 2016, this tour was long overdue. And how different it was. Due to the suddenly closed border post Onseepkrans across the Orange River, we had to endure a 500km detour, after having clocked 800km already on this day, a third of it on dirt. But thanks to air suspension, enormously comfortable leather seats and this incredibly smooth and powerful 3.0-l. V6 diesel engine this was no problem at all. This would have been impossible in the old one.
I am privileged to drive exciting vehicles on a regular base, but the Defender 110 D300 is one of the best cars I have experienced in years. You can easily do long, fast highway sections, but thanks to the enormous torque overtaking on windy coastal roads is done swiftly, with almost no body roll and lot of fun. In the Namib desert the Landy showed its legendary off-road abilities, cruising through sand or rock-crawling with the air suspension on high over boulders.
In attractiveness and ability-wise I can only compare it to the Mercedes-Benz G400d, with an almost identical engine and riding comfort. But the G is sold out until 2024 and, if you get one, you pay at least R1.5mil. more than you fork out for the Defender already.
And yes, there is another contender in the mix. I haven’t had a chance to drive the Ineos Grenadier yet, but I don’t like what I see. It tries too hard to look like an Old Defender, albeit one, which overloaded it’s roof rack, got squashed wide and the eyes popped out. Apparently it is quite capable off-road.
One of the most memorable sections of our trip was the stretch from Terrace Bay to Möwe Bay, along the harsh Skeleton Coast. Only guests checked into the unique Shipwreck Lodge are allowed to proceed beyond Terrace Bay. Amazing landscapes and the Defender looked absolutely stunning there, especially with the desert make-up applied. No artificial spray dirt here at all.
Our lodge guide Bodo took us in his 4x4 a couple of kilometres up the dry river bed of the Hoarusib, while telling us, that individuals can apply for a permit to drive their 4x4 there on their own. He stopped frequently and showed us tracks and dung from desert lions, desert elephants and desert rhinos. We looked at each other and decided then and there ‘We’ll be back. In the Defender Explorer, equipped with a roof tent, fridge and gas cooker.
Land Rover Defender 110 D300 Explorer
3.7-l. six-cylinder turbo, paired with an 8-speed auto PDK
3.0-l. 6cyl. twin-turbo, paired with an 8-speed auto 20inch all-season tyres
221kW and 650Nm
290mm (air suspension), 226mm (coil springs)
900mm (air suspension), 850mm (coil springs)
R1 707 400 (base price), plus options R127 933 = R1 834 333 (as driven)
Explorer pack: R58 433, which includes, among other goodies: bonnet decals, raised air intake and an expedition roof rack.
Fish River Lodge – www.fishriverlodge-namibia.com
Breathtaking position on the edge of the third biggest canyon in the world.
Canyon Roadhouse – www.gondwana-collection.com
The coolest ‘motel’ in Namibia with a unique vintage motoring ambience.
Canyon Lodge – www.gondwana-collection.com
The walls of the cosy houses are the natural rocks from the surrounding mountains.
Luderitz Nest Hotel – www.nesthotel.com
The place to stay in town, with spectacular sea views and fresh oysters.
Wolwedans Dune Camp – www.wolwedans.com
Spectacular position on top of a couple of red Namib sand dunes.
Kulala Desert Lodge – www.wilderness-safaris.com
A true Namib desert oasis.
Sossusvlei Desert Lodge – www.andbeyond.com
The author’s favorite in Namibia – unique combination of incredible location, outstanding architecture, excellent service and delicious culinary delights.
The Delight – www.gondwana-collection.com
The coolest boutique hotel in Swakopmund.
Shipwreck Lodge – www.naturalselection.travel
One of the most remote places to stay in the world in luxury.
Heinitzburg Hotel – www.heinitzburg.com
The old German castle is the best place to stay in Windhoek.
Kalahari Desert Lodge – www.gondwana-collection.com
Affordable desert feeling in the Kalahari.
Tutwa Desert Lodge – www.tutwalodge.co.za
South Africa’s best desert lodge, wonderful position, great décor, personal service and great food.
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