In the spirit of adventure

Vehicle: 2000 Land Rover Defender TD5

Owners: Nico & Angelique Denner

Much like its owners, Mudflap – the Land Rover Defender 110 of Nico and Angelique Denner – epitomises the true spirit of African adventure. With almost half-a-million kilometres under its belt, it continues to prove its unbeatable off-road credentials.

I bought my Land Rover Defender in 2003 – a second-hand 2000 TD5 110 model with 65 000km on the clock. When I checked the service book, I was surprised to see that it had been used extensively to travel to Tanzania. This meant that my Landy already had the spirit of African adventure embedded in it.

It was stock standard, as you would get it off the showroom floor, and over the years, I added minor enhancements to customise it to my needs. The first step was to fit a proper bull bar, and soon thereafter a Warn M5000 winch. Later I added a Hannibal roof rack, which is mainly used as a deck on which to enjoy a cold beer as we admire the view or sunset, or for extra space when we go on a camping trip.

One must-have addition is the drawer system, which is permanently packed with tools, recovery equipment and accessories for any eventuality, from a breakdown to a braai. About a year ago, I fitted a 270-degree batwing awning, especially useful for those weekend fishing trips. We recently started participating in severe off-roading weekends, as this takes us to places where few people have ever been. So, for a bit more ground clearance I upgraded the tyre size to Maxxis All-terrain 265/75/16. With any change comes an upgrade though, and I had to add 300mm spacers to the wheels to allow for the extra tyre space. The advantage of this is a better turning circle and a wider wheelbase, which makes steep side slope angles a bit easier to navigate. The sidebars were also removed, together with the aluminium strips, to make way for properly customised rock sliders. Lastly, my wife added (or rather gifted me) black checker plates to ensure that the Defender has an aggressive but neat look. I am considering adding a dual battery system and solar panel to keep the beers cold on long overland trips.

Within our local Land Rover Bush Run community, my Land Rover got the nickname of Mudflap, as the flaps are always covered in mud or even missing. It currently has around 470 000km on the odometer, and we hope to hit 500 000km early in 2023! Hopefully, that milestone will be celebrated in the Namib Desert or Richtersveld, as these are still dream destinations for us. Some of our favourite trips have been to Mapungubwe and the Kgalagadi. We enjoy the openness, ruggedness and unspoilt desert scenery of these areas, which will only be revealed to those who don’t mind going the extra mile. Our most recent overlanding trip to the Kgalagadi, in February 2020, was definitely a highlight for us. We drove through the most beautiful thunderstorms along the Askham road, turning the usual corrugated dirt road into a river. We had to sleep on the roof rack under the stars as we could not reach our campsite in time and came face to face with lions laying in ambush at our campsite in the park. The Landy also broke down in the park and we had to fix a waterpipe while the rangers acted as overwatch for cheetahs and lions.

Each trip in my Landy is an adventure. While growing up our kids knew that once I started it up, we were on our way to some new and exciting destination. The Landy has been my partner for years now and it will remain my partner for many years to come.

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