Free off-road driving and enduro hiking is prohibited throughout Germany. All over Germany? No! A country in the northeast, inhabited by friendly people, offers off-roaders a home on two and four wheels.
We have been on the road for nine hours. The bobbing headlights show us the way through the now falling darkness. The piece of forest that we cross also swallows the last light of the evening sun. Our small group of enduro, ATV and quad riders is on their way to the accommodation. In our minds we are still thinking about the experiences of the day of driving. And there was plenty of it here in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, near Boitzenburg.
It’s hard to believe, but we’re just finishing the first of two days of driving and thus a tour of around 200 kilometers. Offroad! Without having to drive twice on roads. The infrastructure favors our project, because Germany’s northeast has never been densely populated. The GDR leadership ensured that it stayed that way in their times and declared large parts – especially those close to the “class enemy” – to be restricted areas. To this day, the countless forest, field and farm roads often provide the only connection between the idyllic, sleepy villages with the red brick houses. And because that is the case, they are completely official roads. A stroke of luck for the participants in the guided trip with the aptly named “criss-cross Mecklenburg” and simply astonishing because they come from other federal states. We reach the accommodation in the dark. This is also special: formerly a police academy – today a holiday home with excellent restaurants and accommodation in the former group rooms. Elaborately restored and comfortably furnished, it is easy to endure here and review the day.
Country and people – landscape and driving pleasure
While at home an encounter between forest officials and off-road drivers usually triggers a kind of escape reflex in the latter, it forces him at most a casual wave from him here on the Elbe. In response to the friendly greeting from the Lada Niva SUV. Yes, that’s how it is here. We don’t upset an older couple either. The short meeting leads to a chat about the wonderful nature and the advantages of off-road vehicles. Nobody we meet asks what we are doing here, but wishes us a good trip. One is helpful. The owner of a village bakery plunders the fuel supplies on his lawnmower, while the woman of the house supplies us with pastries. The next gas station would have been too far. Especially when the fuel gauge goes crazy, as happens on one of the vehicles.
We are just outside in the wide landscape and mostly alone. Sometimes submerged in dense forests or drifting in sand dunes. In terms of driving, the demand changes with the nature of the ground. Where it is dry, there is sometimes a lot of dust, while damp areas can sometimes become really spongy. What people went through with their Trabbis a little more than 25 years ago is the subject of many conversations. In the woods there are narrow passages and demanding sections, while the wide areas have something of cruising on them. The two-lane field roads are ready for some adventures at touring pace.
Of which there are also some on the second day. We foxed ourselves into the terrain in such a way that some even resort to their all-wheel drive. Even if it is a question of permitted ways to network them into a varied tour, you can only succeed with a guide. We are therefore following Jochen Ehlers, the boss of ENDUROFUN Tours and organizer. His decades of experience let us be sure that the routes take place legally and in harmony with the local authorities and nature. He also knows where and when which sections are best to drive or to avoid. Be it just for hunting or harvesting. The experienced guide asks us to be “ambassadors of the quad scene”. We like to do it, because nobody wants this gem to fall victim to bans and regulations.
As mentioned, our tour company consists of two- and four-wheelers. We just wanted to try it out. In short – it works extremely well, because the common denominator is quickly found. The gondolas in the landscape are too beautiful, let your soul dangle and chat with petrol in the evening. Where the enduros are still scurrying through, the big ATVs sometimes have difficulties. But they don’t lurch like a rodeo on the mud passages. It’s compensating. Like switching between concentration and strolling while driving. An inland walking dune known in the area is a scenic highlight, the castles and manors we visit are architectural and historical. Our visits to quaint breweries and cozy restaurants ensure that culinary delights are not neglected either. All in all a good mixture on our mix tour. We will be back!
Text: Ralf Wilke
Photos: Ralf Wilke, Kerstin Wilke, Jochen Ehlers