Sometime ago ye olelongrooffan introduced us to a couple in a traveling the world in a Volkswagen Syncro. Soon after that Hooniverse asked what we would drive around the world. There were many great answers but because of $40,000 budget cap the awesomeness that is Unimog was left out.
Fortunately there are people in the world who can afford a lot more of a globe trekking vehicle than an old G’wagen. Some of us who are currently occupying cubicles live vicariously through those people. One such couple is Lesley Norris and Bruce Scott of London. They set out in an expedition-prepped Unimog across South America. They were well-prepared experienced travelers, which is what may have saved their lives when wooden bridge collapsed the weight their Unimog.
Source: Tread the World
We knew that the road from Porto Velho to Manaus was going to be difficult, but as it was not the rainy season we reckoned that it would not impassable, and spurred on by positive comments from the police in Porto Velho, and the army who have started rebuilding it and gave us the ‘thumbs up’ sign when we asked if it was ok to Manaus – we decided to take up the challenge. It was a challenge we lived to regret. There was no mention on our maps, nor from local sources that in between us and our destination were over 100 wooden bridges that were not regularly maintained, over some very high ravines, that would maybe struggle to take the weight of an 8 ton vehicle.
We approached what looked like a perfect bridge, no holes, no loose planks, and instead of walking the bridge as we had done with the previous two dodgy bridges we drove on. As soon as we left the road I could see the front wheels coming off the side, and I knew we were going over. I shouted at Bruce and he grabbed me – my side of the vehicle was plummeting towards the ground – to get me clear of the open window. As we landed we slid further towards the river at the bottom, but luckily stopped before we hit it. The windscreen was smashed, but amazingly we were both unhurt and although we struggled to get out of our safety belts we them managed to climb into the back and out of the window.
The couple came out of the accident unharmed. They were taken to safety within 24-hours, leaving the damaged Unimog behind. Upon their return they found that the ‘Mog has been ransacked of anything that was worthwhile to the locals. Unfazed, they managed to pull the Unimog out of the ravine and transport it to the nearest city with a service facility.
Unfortunately the local place has never worked on a Unimog before. However, with the help of salesman who spoke English, the vehicle was repaired. Much welding and fabrication was done as best as possible. Sadly, most of the damage came not from the accident but from the looters, but that too has been repaired locally and the couple is currently on their way to their next adventure.