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Sand, mud, dust and steep hills
Gartow (Germany), June 12th 2013 

We eventually departed for the second time with our 1984 Toyota Land Cruiser BJ45. We decided a couple of years ago to buy this 4-wheel drive jeep because of its mechanical simplicity and the fact that the car is strong. And if it breaks down, the technique is very simple, so most car mechanics around the world should be able to fix the car. We also believed that the car is strong … very strong. But we never experienced it by ourselves. We never experienced real 4-wheel driving, so we thought that it would be wise to get some experience ourselves. Our first destination was Fürstenau in Germany. Just outside this little village you will find a huge 400 hectares 4x4 terrain.

Fürstenau Forest is a former military practicing terrain. It contains several levels of tracks in a beautiful forest: easy tracks, mediocre tracks and heavy tracks. You can take your own jeep in the forest and experience what trails your jeep can take. You pay around 40 Euros for a full day of driving, and it is absolutely worth it. The forest contains besides tracks several exercises, like a bridge, steep hills, a beach sand area and a former sand mine. Fürstenau Forest also has a comfortable camping where you can spent the night. This is ideal when you want to have an early start.

Our first 4x4 experience in Fürstenau

We decided to visit the place outside the busier weekend. We have no experience at all, so we didn't want to be rushed by other drivers. We also didn't want to be in the way of the real 4x4 tigers. Going on Monday was a good decision. We shared the forest with one other jeep and a handful of quads. We started off course on the easy trails, but these trails bored us after half an hour. These trails were too easy and aren't much more difficult than regular sand tracks. So we headed for the mediocre tracks, and this is where the fun started. Our Land Cruiser didn't hesitate at all and took all the tracks we decided to take. Especially in the low gear is the jeep very strong. The only moment that we felt less comfortable was the moment when the jeep was leaning over to the left or right side. Because of the roof rack, it felt if the Land Cruiser had some difficulties to keep all wheels on the ground. There is too much weight on the roof to drive comfortably on to the left or right leaning tracks. That is the only limitation of our jeep.

The Fürstenau Forest has different obstacles, like this 'bridge'
After being comfortable on the mediocre trails, we gained enough confidence to head for the ‘black' trails. A little bit nervous, we steered our jeep further into the forest. But again, the Land Cruiser seemed very comfortable. We didn't take the real hard core tracks because we didn't want to crush our car. We also stayed away from the leaning tracks, just to be sure that we kept the four feet on the ground. We had a great day and are very glad that we invested one day and 40 Euros to get more 4x4 experience. We are still not planning to do very crazy things with the jeep, but we now know better where the limitations of the jeep lie. And that is a comfortable feeling. We are ready to go now.
Time for a break
Hilly terrain in the former sand mine
The terrain has also a couple of small pools
One of the 'black' tracks
Clean on the road again

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