Abenteuer and Allrad 2018

Europeans are famously prolific travelers, so it is no surprise then that the largest overland show on the planet is to be found in the town of Bad Kissingen, located in beautiful central Germany. We have had the good fortune of attending the Abenteuer & Allrad (Adventure and All-wheel Drive) in 2017 and again in 2018 and were astounded by the location, professional organization, and array of overland vehicles on display.

The event itself has been held between the 31st of May and June 3 every year for the last 20 years and attracts thousands of visitors from across the globe. Travellers begin arriving in the village a week before the event, and some leave only a week after the extravaganza ends. Overland vehicles of every shape and size flood the campground, but it is the overlanders themselves which make this event incredible. This year’s attendance was at approximately 24,000 people, and that was on the first day alone.

This year, the organisers rallied the Land Rover owners of Europe and further afield to attempt, and ultimately break, the Guinness World record for most vehicles in convoy with 632 vehicles. We made a similar attempt in South Africa with over 1,000 vehicles some time ago but did not fulfill the minimum clearance between vehicles. Unfortunately, we were not part of the German victory, as our Defender decided to burst a fuel line en route.

From the car park or campsite, buses shuttle attendees and the world’s motoring press up to the event which boasts hundreds of stands, a food court, a Land Rover Experience driving area, halls, and massive tents full of gizmos and gear as well as presentations by some of Germany’s most prolific adventurers. It takes more than a day to explore the event, and when you cannot walk anymore, you can rest with a cold glass of excellent German beer and local cuisine. The staff and security are well trained and professional, the event information is clearly and readily available, and even the weather seems to be on its best behavior.

The world’s premier adventure and outdoor brands are represented at the event, and you are sure to find the kit, gear, gizmo, or vehicle which you are looking for. Depending on your budget, you could walk away with a set of D shackles or a new 6×6 MAN truck complete with fold-out deck, accommodations for six, a granite kitchen, satellite TV, and a BMW 1200 GS for popping down to the shop.

But, it is in the campsites where the real action takes place. There the tribe is separated into its various clans. The Land Rovers tend to flock together, but can also be found parked on stumps in the forest. The Unimogs form a larger group, and the big overland trucks demand even more real estate. Some overlanders have yet to leave Europe, yet others have travelled the globe, and you can only tell which ones have been where by the wear and tear of both vehicle and owner. At night, fire pits are deployed, and the smoke and smell of grilled meat floats over the campsite. Beers are shared, and circles are formed, stories are told, old friends are reunited, and new friendships are made. There is a sense of community among the campers. It does not matter whether you drive a VW bus, a DAF truck, a Mercedes station wagon or a Land Cruiser—they are all united by a shared passion for overlanding.

If you can, we highly recommend visiting the Abenteuer and Allrad show in 2019, and you can visit their website here. 

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Graeme Bell was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. Together with his wife and two children he has spent much of his adult life chasing momentous experiences and campfire smoke across five continents. He has traveled overland to Kilimanjaro from Cape Town, circumnavigated South America, explored from Argentina to Alaska, Europe to Asia, and across the entirety of coastal Western Africa, all in a trusty Land Rover. Graeme and the family are now encouraging their self-built Defender live-in camper (and permanent home since 2012) to find a way from Cape Town to Vladivostok.Graeme is a member of The Explorers Club, the author of five excellent books, and an Overland Journal contributor since 2015.