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Globetrotters crash their Unimog in the Amazon

Kamil Kaluski December 6, 2011 In General 26 Comments

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.

Currently there are 26 comments on this article:

  1. C³-Cool Cadillac Cat says:


    Get some locals, put the sucker back on its wheels, motor away.

    Unimaginative rich people….

    …broken windscreen….pffft!

  2. SSurfer321 says:

    Silly rich people.

    That's how you break in a Unimog!

  3. Van_Sarockin says:

    Those were volunteer expedition mechanics, not looters. They were assisting in lightening the Unimog to the point where it could be dragged out, and when repaired would be light enough to make it over the other bridges of the region without destroying them.

    Did our intrepid adventurers pay to repair the bridge they destroyed? I doubt it. And so an area is now without a way to get over that river. Everyone else around there probably uses pretty light duty pickups to get around, and the bridge served them well for years.

    If I was a local farmer that used that bridge, I might have burned that truck.

    • C³-Cool Cadillac Cat says:

      Did our intrepid adventurers pay to repair the bridge they destroyed?

      They were in a Unimog, not a Dodge.


      Thank you for not putting a 'that' in the above sentence. Unnecessary words are unnecessary.

  4. Scandinavian Flick says:

    Rich Globetrotters Destroy Local Bridge with their Unimog in the Amazon

    Fixed that title for you.

  5. JayP2112 says:

    Meadowlark and Curly? Is that you??
    <img src="http://blog.cleveland.com/andone/2008/09/medium_globetrotters2.jpg"&gt;

    Sorry- this was the first thing I thought of when I read 'Globetrotter'.

  6. Scandinavian Flick says:

    "Upon their return they found that the ‘Mog has been ransacked of anything that was worthwhile to the locals."

    The couple had been transporting bridge-building materials?

  7. scroggzilla says:

    Insert obligatory kick ass bridge scene from Sorcerer here
    [youtube as7AcALNTvI http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=as7AcALNTvI youtube]

  8. Number_Six says:

    I shouldn't have read these comments. Now I believe this couple went to Brazil specifically to destroy bridges. Why the English hate the bridges?

  9. facelvega says:

    It sounds like it might be a good idea to do globetrotting in something lighter than eight tons. May I suggest a Volvo C303 at a svelte 2.5 tons?

    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b4/Volvo_C303_front_q.jpg&quot; width="500">

    • Scandinavian Flick says:

      Much love for the C303. I got to see one in person at a local Volvo car show. It's quite roomy and actually pretty comfortable. With the mid-mounted B30, parts should be easier to come by and install as well!

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