Donna Collins The Namib Desert has always been the ultimate attraction and challenge to test the skills of 4x4 drivers, in particular the ‘Battle of the Dunes’ competition which is staging its second excursion for 2018. This ‘battle’ which has been going for three years is gaining momentum as one of the ultimate off road driving challenges in Namibia, drawing entries from South African 4x4 enthusiasts who line up to participate in this annual competition. The five-day adventure is organised by dune driving expert, Werner Schaap, from Swakopmund who also started the ‘Battle of the Dunes’ series. It has since gained traction and television footage plus features in glossy motoring magazines promoting Namibia as a tourist destination for 4x4 enthusiasts. This week-end saw the 13th ‘battle’ all geared up with a group of SA participants and their 4x4’s gathered outside the Strand Hotel, many of whom had over 1 500 kilometre journey behind their back. Production vehicles range from a Prado 27, Jeep Wrangler, Mercedes Benz GL, Pajero, Ford Everest to mention some. Many of the vehicles were branded and kitted out with bull bars, snorkels, roof racks, ‘fat takkies’, to mention some, and were packed and ready for this five-day challenge. With a total distance of 300 kilometres of slow adventure driving, the pit stop is Lauberville some 50 kilometres outside Walvis Bay which forms the base camp for the trip. Schaap is a seasoned off-road driver plus honorary member of the Namibia Jeep Club, who’s a great ambassador for Jeep Wrangler. He often holds Jeep day gatherings around the country, plus coaches participants on how to master their 4x4. He has made endless trips into the Namib Desert over the years, and has earned himself a reputation as being one of the most experienced dune specialists behind the wheel. Schaap explained that the main attraction of this competition is not only the experience of driving through the majestic desert scenery, but a challenge on how to conquer the dunes. “Dune driving is something that should never be done alone, the ‘Battle of the Dunes’ excursion offers a ‘pack dog’ experience, which is very safe for first timers,” he said. Schaap explained that it’s a competition at heart, and the trip starts with a short dune drive, for competitors to get a feel for the terrain that is about to become their reality for the next five days. The second day is spent entirely on training, which includes techniques, advice and safety. Thereafter, the size of the dunes and the scale of the challenges build up slowly, with the final test on the fifth day being the infamous ‘Long Drop’, is where everything learnt in the previous days will be put to the test. “The successful completion of this obstacle, and the entire course gives you an unrivalled sense of accomplishment and ultimate bragging rights with your friends back home,” joked Schaap. Winner of the competition will drive off with a SnoMaster Fridge, and Tough Dog Suspension sponsored by ‘Opposite Lock’. As always proceeds of some of the funds are donated to a local charity, and a handover will follow once the excursion has wrapped up.
New Era Reporter
2018-03-22 09:07:09 10 months ago