We always love to hear about the adventures you have with your Robens gear and here is a taste of Continental camping while on an off-road safari in a Land Rover thanks to Allen Ross. He uses a Klondike tipi for his long Landy tours and he wrote in to tell us about a trip to Spain and Andorra…
The start of our adventure took us from our home at Hill Of Fearn in the Scottish Highlands, down through the UK via Glasgow, Preston, London and Portsmouth over three days.
From Portsmouth we took the ferry to Santander, enjoying the 24-hour crossing in mild weather. On arriving in Spain we headed directly east towards Bilbao and spent our first night at Deba. The campsite was on the side of a hill with cut-outs in the rock to make shelf for the roads and pitches, we were on the second shelf down (see the north Spain pictures) and to the back of the tent was a large drop. Although we didn’t arrive till after 9pm the weather was good and staff really helpful – they went out of their way to assist us and ensure we had everything we needed. They were even happy for us to carry out some essential work to the Land Rover’s rear diff resetting the journal bearings.
The night was hot but the inside the tent was nice and comfortable for we had unzipped the vent covers on the side that faced the Landy and those on the doors. We slept in our sleeping bags without overheating. In fact, the tent proved simple and quick to put up and the fact I could stand full height to get dressed u/undressed really helped. There was even sufficient room inside to take our kit in and the three of us slept with plenty room.
The next morning we had a long drive from the north of Spain to Bell Clair in the southern part of France to meet the rest of our group and guides. We travelled all day with no issues, the tent and awning safely tied down on the roof.
When we reached the campsite we had our tent up and secured in no time and got several comments on its design and ease of erecting. We had a lot of ‘interested visitors’ throughout the evening – including the very nice campsite owners. Again, the tent proved comfortable throughout the warm night.
The next morning we were due to meet our tour guides at 8 sharp so decided an early start was in order. We had the tent dropped and packed in no time and far ahead of the rest of the group. The only thing we noticed was the groundsheet was damp where the bed had been but we wiped this dry prior to packing up. Again we had load of comments about the how quick the tent had come down and with the help of my six-year-old boy pulling the pegs we really did it in super quick time.
The tour started and we headed in to the sticks, I was a little concerned the tent and awning would get damaged as we pushed our way through the first over grown track for our Land Rover is 6in all in higher than standard due to the 35-inch tyres and the 3in lift in the suspension, and I hadn’t fitted the bush cables, We moved the tent to between two of the Safari bags when we stopped for our first tea break and the day continued a with us a little happier about its location.
We reached the campsite at around 5ish, the weather was nice and sun was out but there was rain in the air. We set up camp straight away in record time and our guides (professional campers) were still pitching their Oz tent while we were getting the kettle on.
The heavens opened and we had our first down pour with the rain drops bouncing of the ground although the temperature was still warm. I must admit I was a little concerned about the effects of an hour long down pour on a canvas tent, but inside was fine with no signs of moisture at all.
The rain stopped and soon the ground was steaming in the sun. We went out for a meal and it was noticeably cooler when we returned but we were more than comfortable in the tent.
Next morning we checked the tent as we had had a few showers through the night but, again, all was well. The group were all up when we got moving and they all had the kettle on. My partner and I had decided as we had to be ready by a certain time to leave each day we would pack before breakfast and as we started we soon gathered a group of spectators, including our guides. We had the tent down, rolled up and tied down in about five-seven minutes without rushing.
We then took our turn watching the spectators struggle with their tent. One couple had a three-man pop-up tent and watching them try to fold the tent back up was entertaining to say the least, with the time saved in set up soon lost in packing away. The tent was low and the slightest breeze had it wobbling about.
The guides had the Oz tent and, to be honest, it came down fairly quickly. The last members of the group had a Howling Moon roof tent, this was again fairly fast to set up and take down but it was all the extra bits that put me off with the Oz and the roof tent, where as with ours once the pole and pegs were in that was it.
We headed to Andorra here we had a day off so were spending two nights up in the hills where it was cooler. But as we came down with the never ending hill burning the brakes out on the Land Rover, we got hotter and hotter with every turn of the hair pin road. By the time we reached the bottom I was using both feet on the brake pedal to slow us down.
We made our way to a campsite nestled in the valley surrounded by gigantic mountains with the only semi flat spot being the way we had come in. It was a beautiful place and reasonably priced about 80 euro for two nights. We set up and this time put the awning up next to the tent. The night was hot… really hot! We opened all the vents and were comfortable through the night. The temperatures reached the high 30s the next morning so boosted the vents with a cooling. The tent remained pleasant and after a refreshing swim in freezing pool the tent felt hot but airy.
We found our matching 4m awning nice to sit under – and an impressive sight. Again, we had loads of comments and other travellers popping by when they saw our bright orange Landy and an unusual tent and both proved really good ice breakers. We had two really comfortable nights there before heading to the Spanish boarder.
Coming down off the hills in Andorra to the border crossing with Spain we got hit with rain like you can only imagine. It was so bad I was travelling at 15mph and struggling to see. The roads became water logged almost immediately so we pulled in at a large supermarket to pick up supplies and sit it out. At this point our guides left us after providing directions to the campsite on the other side of the boarder.
Disaster struck. We unpacked the tent which, to be honest, had surface water on it but when we opened the so called 100 per cent waterproof safari roof bags we found the bedding soaked through. Once the tent was up I headed back to the supermarket in Andorra and got a lead and electric blow heater which my partner used to blow dry our bedding and other wet items, A bit of a problem but soon overcome – as I always say if you have your passport and wallet you will survive.
The next morning we gave the floor and the walls a little wipe with the blue towel for, as it had been cooler, we had closed the vents and some condensation had formed, made worse by the fact that the air was damp from us drying our bedding. Soon sorted out…
Again it rained. But this time our bedding was shoe-horned inside the Land Rover. The next campsite basic but decent and we had the tent and awning up in no time. We noticed the tent had developed a leak in the middle where one of the guy ropes was touching the tent. We moved this and still had a wee leak so we then moved the exhaust tunnel and top ventilation cover and that seemed to sort it out.
We also noticed that the floor at the door was wet and on closer inspection found the A-frame pole for the door was wet. It looked as if the material was absorbing water where the pole was touching, again not a huge problem. We had a day off and soon other members of the team were using looking for the heater and lead to dry out their tents and bedding. The pop-up tent was soaking with condensation and leaks at the seams. Even the roof tent was damp and needed to dry out.
Unfortunately that was our last night on the tour and we all headed our separate ways the following day after lunch. We had a long drive back up through France to Caen to get the ferry and spent the remaining nights in hotels en route back home.
We learnt a few things during the trip. We are going to get a groundsheet to act as a footprint to stop the moisture experienced under the bed rolls. We will check guy ropes are kept well away from the material and ensure that there is adequate venting even on cold nights rather than have everything zipped up.
Over all we were most impressed with the tent’s performance. Given it isn’t ‘waterproof’ it certainly stood up well to the extreme rain we had. It was cooler in the heat and there was no smell like you getting in other tents. Did the tent let us down with the damp and leaks? No – it was our lack of experience with the tent that let it down. I was so pleased with it I will use it again this year in France – Germany – Switzerland and Italy, this time with three adults and an eight-year-old boy.