From prancing dromedaries to the dunes of the Sahara, timeless mountains to fruitful wadis, there’s no end of things to see on a Marrakech Safari.
And not just any vehicle will do; ideally you’ll travel in a Landrover Defender with 1.4 ton Zu Rim wheels, high air intake engine and galvanised powder-coated sidebars.
And if you plan overnight camping, hardy roof tents are needed to repel wind, rain and sandstorms.
Sometimes it takes enduring these challenges to reap the rewards. And here’s a few to tempt you on your way.
Australia is the perfect destination for getting off the beaten track and really putting your four-wheel drive to work. The sheer size of this enormous country means that you can be faced with varying climates and soil terrains at every bump in the road.
If your idea of a holiday is pushing your driving skills to the limit, then get online, sort out some cheap car hire and you’re halfway there.
Although, in a nation where the scenery changes so dramatically, it is necessary to do a little bit of research before you go. Here is a list of tips for off-road driving down under.
It may come as a surprise to many, but tiny Laos offers fantastic cycling for the adventurous. The rugged uplands to the north are great for mountain bikers looking for thrills, while the southern lowlands offer biking on the flat against a rural backdrop.
Laos is mostly undeveloped, so any kind of travel there requires a willingness to rough it a little. Even its capital, Vientiane, feels like a quiet backwater. The rural areas are a step back in time to a simpler world. People live in small villages among their animals, farming largely for subsistence in the same way they have for generations.
Poverty and poor infrastructure means that most roads are unsealed, which makes for a bumpy and sometimes challenging ride, even in the flat south. The reward is stunning views and a warm welcome, in Asia’s most laid-back country.
Mountain bike technology has come a long way over the past 20 years. Once, bike manufacturers created stiff and solid frames that would roar down hill before people really knew what they were doing (no helmets, no body armour). This video gives you an idea of how rocky and risky downhill descents were on a rigid frame. Then they decided to put motorcycle suspension on these bikes. And an industry was born!
It began with front-suspension forks. Companies like Rock Shox and Manitou couldn’t keep them on the shelves. Then bike manufactures had the idea to make each wheel float independently of the frame. Full-suspension bikes became fashionable and the market was flooded with them.
Today, the industry still makes a number of sharp and snazzy dual-suspension bicycles that make the heart pound (probably because many of them look like combat helicopters). The next time you go shopping for a mountain bike, get one with a lock-out front suspension. However, before you dump over 3K on the latest “full-susser,” consider these tips so you don’t wind up buying more bike than you can ride:
Back in May, I decided to replace my barely road worthy ‘mountain’ bike with a bike that can handle proper off-road riding. I hadn’t ridden off-road since I was a kid, which was well before mountain bikes had disk brakes or suspension so I went into this very green. These are the main things I considered:
Everyone has a different amount to spend; my magic number was £400 max. I knew the bike would get plenty of riding on the road to cycle to work, but having not ventured into the rough stuff for nearly 2 decades, I couldn’t justify spending more in case the off road riding never happened.
When I last rode bumpy trails, suspension consisted of standing up to avoid a sore bottom! Now with the choice of full-suspension (front and rear), hard tail (just front suspension) or no suspension, I could choose to avoid the sore bottom but had a sore head trying to decide what to go for.
In the end, it came down to what I could afford: I wanted some suspension, but I could only afford a bottom of the range full-suspension bike, which would be very heavy – so as I would be doing plenty of hill climbing, I went for a hard tail.
Mountain biking is a balance. The thrill of the sport comes from balancing on the edge of colossal failure: that fine line between rocketing downhill full of endorphins, and the knowledge that one wrong move can stack you in the woods, break your bike and possibly your collar bone. No one wants to crash but sometimes it happens. Here are a few things to keep in mind to prevent a crash the next time you take the “knobbies” out to blast through the forest.
A: Anticipate your route.
Riding more means learning to read the terrain faster. When you stop looking at every single object that passes in front of you, you’ll begin to plan your attack more wisely. For instance, if you approach a wet patch of dirt and then have to climb a muddy pitch, think about hitting the puddle as fast as you can to make it as far up the pitch as possible. Stop thinking about the little things and look ahead.
B: Balance your body.
Good mountain bikers should always maintain a dynamic body position. Headed up a steep hill? Put your torso over the handle bars. Flying down a rocky descent? Put your back-side as far back as you can over your rear wheel. Hair-pin turns? Keep your inside pedal up and lean to the outside. The better balanced you are over the entire bike, the better your reaction will be when something unexpected comes along.
With new routes opening all the time, Estonia is seeing a massive upsurge in visitors. And the director of the Estonian tourist board recently made it clear that much of the attraction is because of the country’s unspoilt countryside.
But what’s this republic really got to offer the adventure traveller? Here’s an intro to what’s to be found in Estonia and some destinations worth considering.
The most northerly of neighbours Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, this country sits on the south side of the Gulf of Finland and is strongly influenced by Nordic culture. Independent since 1991, it’s slowly developing into a tourist magnet – so far it’s been its capital, Tallinn, that’s drawn most of the attention. A popular weekend break/stag do destination, this enchanting city is actually the front for a European adventure destination that’s slowly revealing its true potential…
The capital is a fantastically preserved medieval city (European Capital of Culture, 2011) and it’s from here many of the more popular activities are organised. With so much uninhabited land around, it’s little surprise that off-road driving and Lada racing are local favourites.
Tallinn’s a great base camp for further adventures, but to see just what’s on offer, we’d recommend you use the national parks as your stepping stones.
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