Unimog Heaven – Gaggenau, Germany

This morning we were rudely awoken by the fridge. I think that sort of thing really only happens in a motorhome 🤣 You may recall that we are on 50c in the slot for electric at our Baden-Baden site and despite putting all our remaining 50c pieces (it spat out the 1€ we offered), electricity ran out approximately 1.30am. Our very clever fridge which can be charged off electrical hookup (EHU, that we were using), battery power (limited durations) or LPG gas, will automatically shift in some situations to the appropriate source. However, when it is expecting EHU and it no longer has it, it beeps….quite insistently. Also if you leave the door open. All very useful, but nonetheless it was our very early morning call and one of the implications of motorhome life. Just to show it is not all beer drinking fun 🤣

Filling water, emptying grey water

We also had to call in at the service point this morning to refill water, empty grey water (washing up / shower) and black water (toilet). All these jobs done we were in the road by 08:30, as we had a busy day planned of Unimog driving. More later on this….

We had what seemed to be a perfect plan, a Stellplatz parking spot, which happened to be in the car park of a spa and down some lovely wooded cycle paths just a couple of miles from the Unimog museum. So off we went on our 20 min drive to get set up. Except when we got there, it was full, not only that, but it was limited to 3.5t (we are 7.5t 🤭), although this is not mentioned anywhere in the online details. So, on to plan B, this time, a 30 min cycle to the museum, in a nice little village. This was located shortly after but after squeezing ourselves down some pretty small roads to get there, then working out how long we would need to leave Lizzy and Lola as we were both driving this afternoon, we decided we were not happy there. So, plan C, drive to the Unimog museum and hope we could park out there overnight before the intensive course the following day.

Success, we arrive at museum, to find a nearly empty overflow car park. We have to park across 3.5 spaces, but we are well out of everyone’s way. We have a bit of a false start going in early to check on parking, which due to my lack of German and the museum cashier’s limited English we don’t really either find out about our training or parking. However, by now it is lunch, so we retire to Clouline for a sandwich and a cuppa.

At 2pm we are booked in for 2 x “Exklusive” drive training on a Unimog, which includes a guided tour of the museum. These are the ultimate go anywhere, off-road vehicles, made by Mercedes. It is part of our research into future, more adventurous locations for our travels in the future to try out a Unimog. We are introduced to Roland, our instructor, by his wife Martina, who I was emailing to get our booking. They both speak good English and recently visited Cornwall on holiday and were most welcoming.

Roland has been a volunteer at the Unimog museum since it opened 15 years ago and they are clearly his passion. He walked us through the museum, explaining the technical basis behind the Unimog, which thanks to some great cut open chassis, even I could understand. He explains the development of the vehicle after WWII, initially as a tractor and its evolution to military uses, fire engines etc. Finally the modern version which recently broke the record for the highest altitude a vehicle has ever reached – 6,694m / 21,962ft!

Next it was on to the meat of the day, driving round the purpose built course. I volunteered Kevin to go first and was offered a passenger ride in the modern Unimog whilst he did that. The course is designed to show the capability of these amazing vehicles, so have 45% gradients, 60% twists – 30% articulation per axle, climbing over tree trunks, then doing the same gradients with steps etc etc. Then doing those things in reverse!!! Obviously my guide made it look easy, even if when you are going up the hills all you can see if blue skies in the windscreen. Downhills you are literally held in your seat by your seatbelt.

When I returned Kevin was already hitting some of the big obstacles and seemed to be throughly enjoying himself. Midway through, he was told to stop half way up the “100%” hill for a photo. Next he was reversing back up them etc. I was obviously taken 1000’s of photos and videos and before I knew it, he was pulling over for my turn.

I must admit to a certain level of trepidation to getting started, having been watching these seemingly impossible obstacles, albeit easily assaulted by these powerful little trucks. I had not got on at all with the heavy gearbox in the 4×4 Atego we hired in Iceland and dreaded it would be similar. However, with Roland’s expert instruction, I too was soon driving up and over the steep hills, even if my eyes were firmly glued to the rev counter trying to follow his instructions. You go round the course several times, gradually building up in speed and down in the level of instruction, until you are able to tackle the obstacles independently. Roland was super complementary and really helped build your confidence to tackle the seemingly impossible! I was amazed at just how well the Unimogs were able to handle the courses and due to their portal axles and coil springs was a much smoother ride to the Atego. A really fun, if challenging afternoon. We got our certificates and keepsakes for the day. Tomorrow, Kevin goes on the Big Boys course up the road for some more adventures….

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