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Adventure Trucks in Iceland

REYKJAVIK, Iceland- Vehicular monstrosities — construction and military trucks converted into travel vehicles — often ply the wild hinterlands just outside of mainland Europe. Getting a dump or military truck, adding on a cabin, throwing in some beds, and tons of survival gear and going off-roading to Africa, the Middle East, or Iceland is becoming [...]

REYKJAVIK, Iceland- Vehicular monstrosities — construction and military trucks converted into travel vehicles — often ply the wild hinterlands just outside of mainland Europe. Getting a dump or military truck, adding on a cabin, throwing in some beds, and tons of survival gear and going off-roading to Africa, the Middle East, or Iceland is becoming a somewhat popular passion in Europe. The more I travel around the fringes of this continent, the more of these insanely huge travel machines I come upon.

These huge trucks are usually made of steel, and have the ambiance of tanks. The back ends of these trucks are generally converted into large sleeping, living, or passenger quarters, and the outsides are generally painted with “adventure” slogans as well as a list of all the countries that the particular vehicle has been driven through. Some of these lists are very impressive, more than a few times these monstrosities have been taken around the world.

Expedition truck in Iceland

In Iceland, I woke up one morning at the campsite in Reykjavik to find a beast of a machine bearing down on my tent. It was bright yellow and had the countenance of an earthquake. Adventura.cz was written across its side, huge wheels were attached all over it, and it roared through camp, inviting “what the f’ck” responses from all the campers hiding out in their tents like lemmings. Eventually, the monstrosity stopped rumbling, two guys stepped out, and I walked over to find out what they were doing with such a ridiculous machine.

Adventura, a Czech tour company doing large truck tours

I introduced myself to a guy who could not speak any English, and he waved me over to his companion. I shook his hand, told him who I was and what I do, then jumped into satiating my curiosity.

The truck was run by a Czech tour company that runs trips to Africa, the Near East, and, apparently, Iceland. For 1,500 Euro each, twenty something passengers can ride in the big yellow battling ram for two weeks into some worldly hell and back — all expenses included. The tour guides seemed to think this was a good price, and, honestly, I had to agree: the operating cost of shipping and driving this truck alone had to be nearly as large as it was.

Large wheels of tour truck

“So how much does it cost to drive this truck, how much is the gas?” I asked.

The tour guide was vague, and just repeated that the cost was 1,500 Euro to ride in it. I tried again, and was met with a similarly vague response. “It is 400 horse power with a 90 liter engine, and 16 cylinders,” I was told. I took this as a simple way of saying that that it takes A LOT of gas.

I continued:

“So how did you get this truck to Iceland?” knowing damn well that they couldn’t have drive it here.

“From Denmark, we put it on the ferry boat from Denmark.”

“I bet that was expensive?”

[shrug]

“Now, did this truck use to be used for construction, it sort of looks like a dump truck?” I asked.

What I was told came as a surprise, the guide said that it was not a conversion project, that it was made by the Tatrabus company specifically for adventure tours. But it was my suspicions that the Czech guide misunderstood my question, and upon checking the website found that the truck was actually first made and used for military purposes:

It was built in 1991 as a military special and adapted for supporting a vehicle off-road competitions. He participated in the competition, Marrakech Munich, and Paris-ridden Beijing, and several “Dakar”. -Auto translated to English from Tatrabus Vehicle History

Where this truck was taken on tours

“The back use to be a soft top, but now it is a hard cabin,” the guide explained as we looked at the passenger seating area of the truck. It looked as if someone mounted the rear of a school bus onto a dump truck — the form meets its function.

I looked over the truck and at the list of countries it had been too. Reading the Czech country names, it became clear that this vehicle had been driven in Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Algeria, Mauritania, Mali, Senegal, and, of course, Iceland.

Wade with large expedition truck

These “adventure” trucks are usual run by a tour company or by individuals on trips comped by corporate sponsorship, but I have also seen more than a few fully operated by self-supporting travelers. As I was exiting the campsite in Reykjavik I saw a large military cargo truck being used as a traveling machine by a Dutch couple.

The dream here seems to be getting the largest truck you can possibly find, outfitting it for war, and then driving it through the landscapes of earthly hell. In actuality, it is my impression that they just drive on somewhat rough roads in remote locations to get to places that weaker vehicles could not manage — though, I cannot hold back my opinion that these massive trucks are slight overkills — you need a sturdy and powerful 4 X 4 to access many places on this earth, but a military cargo truck seems to overdue the function. But it is also my impression that the size and power of these trucks are part of the general appeal in and of itself.

Filed under: Europe, Iceland, Western Europe

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 88 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3411 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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Wade Shepard is currently in: Rochester, New York

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  • the candy trail ... | Michael Robert Powell July 12, 2011, 7:14 am

    The monster yellow truck Vs Wade’s sleek pink bike … Now, that will be some battle 😉 … I’ll go with David, over Goliath.

    the candy trail … a yellow, pink, purple monster across the planet, since 1988

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    • Wade Shepard July 12, 2011, 8:07 am

      I’m not so sure about that. Those Czech guys were SERIOUS about their truck. One of them only had two words of English at his disposal: “Big” and “Truck.” Don’t know how well I would fair in that scenario haha.

      As a funny side note, I’ve been hearing tales of this tour group as they made their way around Iceland. They set out to conquer, and that they did: emboldened by their big truck, they f’cked shit up every step of the way — running around naked, pissing everywhere, and, in general, becoming notorious in this country. All you have to say is “Big yellow truck” and “Czechs” and someone will have a story about them. The stuff of sagas.

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  • Petur Asbjornsson August 8, 2011, 6:46 pm

    This yellow truck is now IN a lake in Iceland…..:-(

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  • Arnar August 9, 2011, 6:38 am

    After having been involved in a car crash with a passenger car in the highlands due to reckless driving (which they advertise on their web) the operators of this truck managed to sink it in a lake this weekend. The trail they were travelling goes around the shoreline of an old crater, mostly in the water. After having driven over once they let out half the passengers so they could film the truck as the driver was repeating the passing. Probably wanting to show off he drove too far from the shore and rolled into the crater. There it lies with only one wheel breaking the surface.
    The material from this group on youtube confirms that the operators of this company show absolutely no respect for the beautiful landscape they are travelling through, fellow travellers on the trails nor the lives of their passengers. Their website has photos of the truck sunk deep into the ground off the trails (which is illegal in Iceland), causing damage to the land. Allowing people to hang on top of the truck as it is driven full speed over rivers is simply reckless.
    May this behaviour rest in peace at the bottom of the Icelandic lake where this truck now lies.

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    • Wade Shepard August 9, 2011, 8:12 am

      Do either you or Petur have any photos of the truck sunk in the lake?

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  • Arnar August 10, 2011, 7:17 am

    Here is one wheel sticking out of the lake:
    http://visir.is/rutan-enn-a-bolakafi-/article/2011110809350

    This is from the rescue operation:
    http://visir.is/rutan-komin-upp-a-thurrt-land/article/2011110809076

    When operations started it turned out the truck had slid down to a depth of 10 meters.

    Footage from the cameras from the half of the group that had left the truck shows it being driven quite fast back and forth along the edge of the crater until it suddenly slides in and sinks in 15 seconds. I haven´t seen this footage but it might be available online later.

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  • Arnar August 10, 2011, 11:14 am Link Reply
  • rick June 17, 2012, 10:49 am

    Too bad that the websites for both Adventura.cz and Tatrabus weren’t translated into English. Looks interesting, maybe I will buy one if I win the lottery.

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