Be a Free Spirit off-road

EXPERIENCE the thrill, challenge and adventure of driving on some of Europe’s most remote and spectacular tracks high up in the Pyrenees Mountains with UK company Free Spirit 4×4.

Two dates are on offer for 2013. Each is six days costing £680 plus your vehicle running costs (fuel etc) and ferry costs if coming from the UK. Free Spirit 4×4’s itinerary is  between 30 and 100 miles per day using around 70% off-road tracks, camping overnight at pre-booked sites.

“You will have plenty of time to enjoy the adventure to the full with many river crossings, rocky climbs and spectacular valleys,” says the company.

“We have two dates for 2013 on offer each with a different route through the Central and Western Pyrenees Mountains. Using our own treasure hunt format, you will have the security and safety of a convoy without the constraints and dust. One of our fully equipped support teams will never be far away should you need any assistance.

“Every campsite used is to the best possible standard and is pre-booked and paid allowing you to arrive and set up hassle-free. All facilities are in a clean and working condition.”

The tours are suitable for all well maintained 4x4s and for drivers of all skill levels. The company recommends drivers new to off-road driving should come on one of its UK-based adventures first.”

The cost of £680 includes:

  • 7 nights camping
  • 2 traditional restaurant meals
  • 1 BBQ
  • White water rafting (optional)
  • Your week’s route and treasure hunt tasks
  • Directions across France avoiding toll roads
  • Fully-equipped support vehicle.

One driver who took part in a 2011 Pyrenees tour was Clint Foakes with his son. Clint writes:

“On the morning of our first day, event organiser Kieran, gathered us around to hand out the off-road instructions. He casually remarked, ‘We would all be familiar with the format’ and the group nodded sagely, myself and the boy included.

“It turned out the guys had sensibly arranged for us all to travel in convoy for the first day to, ahem, ‘refresh’ our working knowledge of this type of road map.

“It also gave everybody an opportunity to start thinking about our first day challenges: discover this particular fact, find these landmarks and, most entertaining of all, plant a Free Spirit sticker in the most original position and take a photo. This particular challenge was to be a feature of the week and saw stickers appearing on road signs, livestock and slow-moving Spaniards.

“We covered quite a distance on the first day and climbed the mountains that form part of the Tour de France route, on some of the most beautiful roads I have ever seen.

“We crossed the border into Spain, gawping at the road signs that display bear and wolf, before we headed onto the off-road trails for the afternoon where we started about the business of crawling, bouncing and peering over the rim of precipitous trail edges.

“The next couple of days saw the entire crew, which had galvanised into a friendly homogenous lump, getting further away from the tarmac and stretching into the dusty peaks. In the mornings we could hear the distant tolling of the small brass bells cows wear as agricultural bling, as we crawled under the vehicles putting right that which the previous days driving had put wrong.

“The countryside became increasingly beautiful as the number of waterfalls and narrow passes increased with our altitude and the organisers had capitalised on this by enrolling those that wished into a white water rafting afternoon.

“The following evening after a day’s roaring around the Spanish lake-filled valleys, we followed the organisers up an insanely winding and un-railed mountain track toward a traditional restaurant at the summit. When we finally arrived, the building was fantastic, all ancient timbers and enormous fireplaces. It transpired this road is the smugglers’ route from Andorra into Spain and its these dubious fellows that help make up a profitable custom for the restaurant owners. We all settled into plates full of dried spicy meats and hilarious looking sausages, character-building cheese and tomatoes with everything. Nice food in a timeless setting.

“After a farewell dinner and a small award ceremony where Sam and I won the wooden spoon, it was time to think about our journey home and consider what father and son had learned from this adventure.

“We decided there were three key lessons: a Discovery 3 will go anywhere that a Defender will go, and then a little further than that.

“A mountain goat (if driven past with the appropriate degrees of proximity, velocity and exhaust noise) will spontaneously evacuate its bowels and fall over.

“And lastly, that if you get the right number of similar minded people together in the right place with the right vehicles, you can have one the best weeks of your life.”

[Abridged – read the full version of Clint’s account on the Free Spirit website – Ed].

Free Spirit 4X4