A Tale of Conversion

Saruni’s open, ‘game viewer’-style Land Rovers have always been a source of pride for the company and a source of pleasure for our guests.  What’s more, they were one of the very first open vehicles in the Masai Mara, soon emulated by many other companies.

So it is with excitement that recently we embarked on another creative journey, converting our Nairobi-based Land Rover Defender – until then used as a urban vehicle – into a new, additional, state of the art ‘game viewer’ for our Samburu fleet. It is a labour-intensive exercise consisting of both substantial destruction and reconstruction and requires significant attention to detail. Normally it is a process that happens behind the scenes, but on this occasion, we decided to document some of the moments and let you see them.

The Land Rover Defender ‘BEFORE’ undergoing modification

The entire roof and side of the vehicle must first be cut and taken off along with the rear seats, all the doors and the windshield.  The bare ‘bed’ of the vehicle remains. Then we fit the cage fabricated from steel tubing, reinforced to maintain the integrity of the bodywork. Then it is the frame for the roofing and side canvas.

The Defender – with its new roof frame

The floor is constructed using steel plates, the elevated back row of seats provides storage space under the rear seats for our picnic seats, tables and hampers. The seats are fitted in one by one, new small doors are fitted where the previous doors would have been and the windscreen is re-attached with a hinge to enable it to lie flat on the bonnet.

Working on the interior shell

Then the ‘cosmetic’ additions can now begin – first the wooden shelf is installed behind the driver’s seat and then the whole passenger area is painted and the wood polished and varnished. From here the canvas works can be installed with the roofing and side canvas fitted on to the steel frame and the seats fitted with leather and canvas covers. A small inverter is put in with some sockets so that guests can charge their camera batteries and appliances whilst out on drives and this completes the interior of the vehicle. All that’s left is to paint the exterior of the car and to add our Saruni logos and the new game viewer is ready to begin a new life in the wilds.

Hey Presto! A brand-new Game Viewer in Samburuland