Rangers Conquer Epic Namibian Odyssey

Odyssey – the name alone implies a journey a bit more complicated then your average Sunday jaunt. However, at the culmination of the Ranger Odyssey through north-western Namibia last Thursday when the participants stopped over at Novel Ford in Windhoek, Hardy de Kock, event director, summed it up perfectly when he said “14 vehicles went into the Kaokoveld and 14 vehicles came out”.

“Namibia is a beautiful country in which to do this type of challenge and the vehicles performed perfectly,” he went on to add.

The 2014 Ranger Odyssey has wrapped up a truly epic 2 500 km, 12-day extreme 4×4 aenture through Namibia with all of the vehicles and contestants making it through with flying colours.

Participants in the Ford Ranger Odyssey ranged from students to medical doctors and were between the ages of 23 and 40.

The group departed from Johannesburg on 7 September and flew to Windhoek where the expedition began. At the first overnight camp in Kamanjab, the 20 contestants, comprising of 18 South Africans, one from Angola and one from Mozambique, were split into 10 teams by a random draw.

They competed over the next 11 days for the grand prize of an Odyssey-spec Ranger each for a year, as well as N$5 000 fuel per month.

On Day 2, the 14-vehicle convoy headed north for Opuwo, and over the next couple of days the spectacular route followed the Kunene River that forms the natural border between Namibia and Angola. A cultural visit to an Ovahimba village near Epupa Falls was an enriching experience that revealed the fascinating heritage of the indigenous people.

Along the way, the 4×4 driving became ever-more challenging, allowing the contestants to not only prove the exceptional performance of the Ford Ranger, but show whether they had gained a suitable level of skill and experience behind the wheel to conquer the gruelling terrain.

Then on Day 7 it all came together with the main challenge of the 2014 event – the notorious and treacherous Van Zyl’s Pass that features rock-strewn and extremely narrow paths with vertical cliff faces on the one side and sheer drop-offs on the other.

But the convoy made it through without incident and left the teams on an adrenaline-charged high having experienced and seen what they were capable of behind the wheel of the Ranger.

The ensuing scenic drives along the Hoarusib River and Khowarib River 4×4 trails simply reaffirmed the astonishing beauty of this remote but captivating landscape, while also putting the Ranger through its paces – particularly when navigating the innocuously named deep ‘dust holes’ just after Umumbaaitjie that necessitated several vehicle recovery operations.

Throughout the event the teams were scored daily on their technical driving abilities, vehicle care and maintenance, recovery and winching techniques, camp craft, as well as general knowledge on the Ranger and the Odyssey route. These scores will now be added up and verified by independent auditors prior to the announcement of the winning team in October.

“The Ranger Odyssey is designed to give ordinary people the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore some of Africa’s remarkable destinations, while experiencing the exceptional capabilities of the Ford Ranger,” says Dale Reid, Ford Ranger’s Brand Manager, who took part in the trip.

Namibia’s Kaokaland lived up to its reputation as one of the most beautiful but remote and challenging areas to explore in Africa. But the fact that the 14 Rangers made it through the trip without incident, and not even a single puncture, proves without doubt that this vehicle is both Built Ford Tough, and is more than tough enough to conquer Africa.

“We now have a group of 20 individuals who have seen what the Ranger is capable of and as a bonus, many of them have indicated that even if they don’t win the Ranger for a year, they will be buying one.

“Some have already influenced buying decisions in favour of the Ranger and the Ford brand amongst family, friends, colleagues and clients, which is the ultimate testimonial,” concludes Reid.

This is the second year that it has taken place and the first time that it is being held in Namibia.

The winners of the 2014 Ranger Odyssey will be announced on 15 October.

Source : The Namibian