It’s not something that is usually said about an SUV, but it kind of sums up our epic Rajasthan road trip. I’m yet to check the firewall for a hole in it but I’m sure it’ll be fine. The Safari Storme was the first car I reviewed for evo India in December 2015. We drove it for about 50km on the outskirts of Pune for a quick review, almost all of it on road and dropped it off in a few hours. Little did I know that I’ll be clocking over 10,000km in the coming year, a fair bit of it kicking up a storm. Of the huge number of miles I’ve clocked in the Safari Storme, over 2800km came over four days this January, when we decided to go dune bashing. I suppose it is safe to assume we have been the most adventurous Safari drivers in the year gone by, but we’d love to hear from someone wilder.
Until we do, here’s one wild ride…
Deogarh in Rajasthan is 1,100km from Pune. It takes about 17 hours, and being judicious with our breaks, I knew that we could do it in 16. The Safari Storme has turned us into marathoners. It took us 18 hours anyway, with long queues at tolls as everyone swiped cards instead of cash or Fast Tags. 18 hours in any car is tiring. The vehicle can take it easily, but your foot aches with every gear change, the shoulders drop with every turn, and by the end of the night, we could just about crawl through the entrance porch of Dev Shree in Deogarh, our stay for the night. The luxury homestay is as warm and comforting as its owners, and just what tired travellers like us needed at the end of a long day. The next morning we drove over narrow trails through a forest, saw some wildlife, you know the stuff we have been doing with the Safari over the past few months. We then drove out to a place called Kakani, a couple of hours from Deogarh. Kakani is the start of a drive I never thought I’d put the Safari through.
We get off the main road on to a dirt trail and stop to turn the shift-on-the-fly 4WD system to 4-High. It’s actually on the fly but better to be cautious than to shovel gravel out from under the Safari. So once I’m sure that all the power is going to all fours, I slot in to first gear and floor it. And almost all through, for the next couple of hours, I floor it in first, the tacho at its redline, a frantic engine screaming its heart out as I drive through gravel, sand, river beds, river crossings, thick shrubs, the works! Now I have crawled over rocks and through jungles but the desert is new to me and the skills required here were getting developed as I drove. First, conditioning the mind that it is fine to drive your car in first gear with your right foot stuck in like a lunatic, then trusting that there could be times you will scrape the sump and because the Safari Storme has a strong sump guard nothing is going to happen to it and you carry on without a hitch, and third, I should have taken the number plate off before diving into the Luni river.