Ford Ranger Odyssey Tames Koakoland

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We all know that driving through Kaokoland is not for ‘sissy’s’. Least of all for the 20 contestants who took part in the challenging 2014 Ford Ranger Odyssey, and passed the 12-day 4×4 adventure with flying colours ending an epic journey at Windhoek Novel Ford last week.

If there was one aspect of the trip that had everyone in awe, it was the exceptional performance of the Ford Ranger. It conquered the worst that this extremely rugged and rarely travelled region of Namibia could throw at it, including more than well over two-thirds of the punishing 3 000 km route travelled on dirt roads and bone-jarring 4×4 trails.

All 14 Rangers completed the challenge without incident (and not even a single puncture) proved that it is indeed ‘Built Ford Tough’ … and more than tough enough to conquer Kaokoland.

The expedition started from Johannesburg on 7 September with a flight to Windhoek, followed by the first overnight camp in Kamanjab which was the beginning of this overland adventure.

This was also the starting point where the 20 guys and girls comprising 18 South Africans and one each from Angola and Mozambique, were split by random draw into 10 teams, which competed together over the next 11 days.

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, including a visit to an Ovahimba village near Epupa Falls to learn more about the fascinating heritage of these people.

Along the way the 4×4 driving became continually more challenging, forcing the contestants to up their game as their skill levels improved.

Then on Day 7 it all came together with the main challenge of the 2014 event – the notorious Van Zyl’s Pass, a narrow, rock-strewn track with vertical cliff faces on one side and sheer drops on the other.

But the convoy made it through without incident – and with the teams on an adrenalin-charged high. 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 Rangers through their paces – particularly when navigating the innocuously named deep ‘dust holes’ just after Umumbaaitjie that necessitated several vehicle-recovery operations.

Throughout the Odyssey the teams were scored daily on their technical driving abilities, vehicle care and maintenance, recovery and winching techniques and amp 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 on 15 October.

Ford Ranger brand manager Dale Reid – who was there for the whole trip – said afterwards: “The Ranger Odyssey is designed to give ordinary people a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore some of Africa’s remarkable destinations.”

“Namibia’s Kaokoland lived up to its reputation as one of the most beautiful but remote and challenging areas to explore in Africa – but what made the trip even more amazing was the spirit of the great group of contestants this year.”

With a surprising number female participants, Woema chatted to a couple of the ladies who were in fine form at the end of the challenge, mentioning that they enjoyed it thoroughly, and thought Namibia to be a beautiful country, and hope to return again soon.

It was pointed out that none of them were equipped with hardcore 4×4 driving skills before the Challenge but they had met all the criteria after attending a ‘boot camp’ in Johannesburg, where they were chose out of 40 people who signed up.

The 20 top contenders were picked after a rigorous selection process, to tackle the extreme challenges and tough terrain conditions of Kaokoland in a fleet of mighty Rangers Odysseys 4×4’s.




Some of the SA contestants who took part in the 2014 Ford Ranger Odyssey, 12-day 4×4 adventure into Kaokoland, Simo, Richard (instructor), Justine, Olivia and Linda



Linda Khanye gave meaning to the phrase ‘girl power’ as one of the 20 contestants who took part in a testing 12-day 4×4 Ford Ranger Odyssey Challenge into Kaokoland.



A fleet of Ford Ranger s driven by ten teams ventured into Kaokoland as part of the 2014 Ford Ranger Odyssey off-road challenge which started in Kamanjab and ended in Windhoek at the Novel Ford dealership last week, completing a nearly 3 000 kilometre journey which for the 20 men and women who took part was an adventure of a life time. Namibia’s Kaokoland and Damaraland had enthralled and amazed with its astonishing beauty and diversity – from the Kunene River to the Epupa Falls, the stunning Zebra Mountains to the breath-taking deserts and canyon, plus the rich cultural heritage of the OvaHimba. See story inside. (Photo QuickPic)