On the opening page of the Land Rover Club Israel, they congratulate those who have just joined the “wonderful family of Land Rover.” Unfortunately, I have not joined that prestigious club, but was a guest on a recent day journey to the South, and unlike the other participants had to give back the car the next day.
The invite was to join the day trip in the Lachish Region driving a new Land Rover. Of course, I said yes. Who wouldn’t? I was given a brand new Range Rover Velar, one of Land Rover’s more elegant models, which despite it being a very comfortable SUV and avant-garde style, can still overcome most off-road driving challenges and terrains.
We gathered at 9 a.m. on a Friday morning at a gas station near Beit Kama, joining 17 shiny, mostly brand new Land Rovers and owners – drivers, friends, and families, including children and grandparents. The leader of our very happy group was our guide Guy Zilberman, who gave us a short briefing, and off we went.
The club is open to anyone who owns a Land Rover. “In a way, you can say that our customers are not just buying a car. They buy a dream,” says Erez Troppen, VP marketing of Eastern Automobile Marketing Ltd., importers of Land Rover and Jaguar to Israel.
“Unlike other luxury cars, they do not purchase a Land Rover to impress their neighbors, they buy it as a gift to themselves. They want to enjoy driving out in nature with their family and friends, to enjoy the experience of real off-road driving. Our cars, unlike our competitors, have the ability to overcome most challenges easily,” Troppen says.
“What some clients miss sometimes, is the know-how and the confidence to really take advantage of what the car can do.
“The Land Rover Club activities are planned so that members don’t need to know anything, except when to get to the gathering point and what to bring with them. We ask participants to follow our experienced guides. We tell them ‘let us take you someplace beautiful and interesting.’ We will take them there and bring them home safely, with no damage to their cars.
“We take our members to beautiful places that they would probably not be able to get to on their own. For many of them, it is a chance to learn what their car can do. They learn, they enjoy themselves, and they then can continue on their own, if they wish to,” Troppen adds.
Many participants keep returning to these journeys. Some told me they made friends on these excursions and continue to go on trips together.
Besides these day trips, the club also organizes off-road driving courses, movies, and lectures. “We want to provide even more exciting opportunities to our members, to give them a chance to meet other excellent people who share similar interests and wish to experience off-road driving and discover hidden gems around the country,” says Trippen.
BACK TO our trip. We followed our guide east into the rolling hills of the Judean foothills, into the fields now covered with red anemones and other flowers.
Our first stop was near the ruins of Ma’ahaz, where bitter fights took place during Israel’s War of Independence. We stopped briefly in a spot where Palmah soldiers fought Egyptian forces led by a young officer, Gamal Abdul Nasser, who later became the leader of Egypt.
After listening to Zilberman explain what happened here in ’48, we got back to our cars and drove to our next stop – breakfast. Folding chairs and tables were taken out of the cars and the organizers laid out a sumptuous meal for everyone to enjoy.
Continuing east, we drove through the beautiful Amatzia Forest, an area rich not only with beautiful nature but also with fascinating historical sites, ancient burial caves, and even ruins of an old watchtower from the First Temple era.
We went uphill and downhill, encountered some driving challenges, and enjoyed every minute. At some point, we entered an area used by the army for training, which is closed during weekdays and open for visitors only on weekends. We crossed a few water challenges, stopped to take pictures, saw the birth of little lambs, and discovered secret spots, such as the amazing Ginta cave, aka The Bell Cave.
This surprisingly large cave is part of a chain of caves that connect underground, and there are openings scattered in the area, which you need to watch for and be very careful not to fall into.
We stopped for lunch after climbing Gad Hill and proceeded to another ruin, Beit Lehi-Beit Loya, where there is evidence of Israelite settlement in the late sixth century BCE. The remains of a Byzantine church with intact mosaic floors is reason enough to make the way there.
We watched the sunset from the top of the hill and it was time to say goodbye to everyone and thank our hosts and our guide for a wonderful day and a most interesting journey.
We climbed a few steep inclines and down one sharp descent and, with the help of Land Rover’s experienced instructors tested our driving prowess, but most of all we had a wonderful day out in the beautiful Lachish area and met some new friends. When is the next trip?
For more information go to www.landrover.co.il/land-rover-clubThe writer was a guest of the Land Rover Club, Israel