Land Cruiser or Land Rover?

Posted by Tyson Jopson on 27 January 2017

A question we get asked a lot is: what’s it like to work at Getaway? We have lots of stories of trips wonderful and wonky. In our ‘Inside Getaway’ column every month, our deputy editor shares stories from behind the scenes. This one is from the February 2017 issue.


Land Rover or Land Cruiser? It’s a question that’s divided the 4×4 community since the beginning of time. In this instance time begins somewhere around the middle of the 20th century; there was such an abundance of it then that folk were accidentally inventing things like silly putty and devices they claimed could tell if you were lying. Most notably, it’s when those two four-wheel-drive marques first began production in anger. (Anything that happened before this point is inconsequential and of absolutely no use, like the snorkel on a school-run SUV).

I have driven both and as an impartial journalist, I don’t have a favourite, of course. Each has its merits. Each has its throng of acolytes, too. And how can thousands of people be wrong? I’m kidding. Thousands of people can be wrong. They’re called the Land Rover Club. Cruisers are obviously better.

Now that I’ve totally upset the apple cart in one direction, I should tell you about one regrettable feature that Land Cruisers do have: they expand overnight. I discovered this while mapping out a route through the Khwai Community Concession just south of Chobe for the Getaway Guide to Botswana.

I was in a fully kitted 4.2-litre diesel and as the trip had progressed, ‘Bessie’ and I had developed a bond. We’d carved out sand tracks and created beautiful little bow waves in glistening Okavango puddles and parallel parked in the busy streets of Maun until it became a cinch – a holy matrimony of man and machine. Also, my driver’s arm tan was coming along nicely and I felt we’d reached the point where it was unnecessary to alight at every obstacle to assess conditions. And so, at a low bridge made from wooden poles bound together over a drying floodplain, I thought nothing of driving straight over it. There was a tremendous cracking sound as one of the wooden poles split, jolting Bessie’s right hindquarter off the bridge, leaving her left rear wheel in the gap between the tracks and her front wheels pawing the sky for solutions. There weren’t any. We were properly stuck, like a tortoise on a rock in the middle of an endless ocean. Stunned, I set about trying to get Bessie unstuck. Neither the bottle jack nor the air jack were helpful. But then something came along that was: a safari vehicle from a nearby lodge. In it were three men with six strong arms and two hi-lift jacks. They made light work of getting Bessie unstuck.

Crestfallen, I looked her over. She was undamaged, but this was her fault. I’d lined the bridge up perfectly. She must have gotten wider overnight. After everything we’d been through… you think you know someone, and then they change. One of the men then offered to drive her over the bridge.
‘Won’t go,’ I said.
‘She’s gotten too…’ And that’s when I thought of a better, slightly more probable, reason.
‘The bridge is too narrow. It must have been built by Land Rover owners. Typical.’ I grunted and kicked one of the poles.
‘Even out here they’ve found a way to create an exclusive club.’

‘Well, you can always go around, it’s dry enough now,’ one said. Then they all hopped into their vehicle and drove over the bridge. As they did the sun flashed across a silver badge on the driver’s door: Land Cruiser.
‘Must be one of those new skinny models,’ I grumbled.
‘I lined that bridge up perfectly. There’s no way it’s my fault.’

Then I thought about my friends and some of their 4×4 blunders. They’re all incredible drivers, not a single one was their fault either – they’d swear it on a lie-detector test… the same one that was invented around the time men started driving offroad where nobody could see them. It makes you wonder if maybe the only real difference between a Rover and a Cruiser is the bit that’s mounted between the seat and steering wheel.

Nah. It was definitely that bridge.


Read more from this story in the February 2017 issue of Getaway magazine.

Get this issue →

Our February issue features a wild new way to traverse the Baviaanskloof, the Okavango Delta’s most affordable safari, 6 local shores to explore and Italy’s 8 prettiest dips..


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