AND THEN THERE WERE 20: The contestants listen to instructions on the first day of the 2014 Ford Ranger Odyssey in Kamanjab, Namibia. Image: Ford
WINDHOEK, Namibia - The 2014 Ranger Odyssey has officially started here with 20 contestants taking on some of the toughest conditions the African continent has to offer.
The expedition will last for 12 days and cover about 2500km, most of it on gravel along with a series of extreme 4x4 trails in Kaokoland in the far north-west corner of Namibia.
The 20 contestants arrived in Windhoek on Sunday September 7 and immediately set off for Kamanjab, start and end point of the odyssey.
It's also the first time the South African contestants met their compatriots from the other African countries, one each from Angola and Mozambique. A contestant had also been selected from Nigeria but was unable to compete due to current travel restrictions in place into Namibia.
2500KM ROUND TRIP
This year the contestants are paired of two, with the selection having taken place at the venue for the first night, Oppi Koppi camp site in Kamanjab. The top 10 contestants, based on their results from boot camp and the SSA selections, drew random numbers that linked them up with their team-mates for the rest of the Odyssey.
Together they will be competing for the ultimate prize - the opportunity to each drive an Odyssey Ranger for a year, along with R5 000 fuel per month.
Gavin Golightly, Ford Marketing Manager said: "We have a superb group of individuals on this year's Ranger Odyssey. "Each one of them earned their place on this event, but now it's time for them to prove they are tough enough to embrace this unique 'Built Ford Tough' challenge while traversing some of Africa's most amazing scenery and trails."
Over the course of the event, the contestants will be tackling several arduous 4x4 trails in a fleet of 10 identical Ranger 3.2 XLT Double Cab 4x4 automatics, along with four Rangers for the support and media crews.
MYRIAD OF TASKS AWAIT
The route encompasses the notorious Van Zyl's Pass between Otjihende and Orupembe, as well as the treacherous path along the Kunene River that forms the border between Namibia and Angola.
The Epupa Falls and the Puros Loop are some of the other significant highlights that await the teams, with the latter renowned for its desert lions and elephants.
Throughout the almost two-week adventure, the teams will be constantly evaluated on their technical and precision driving, camp craft, communication and daily vehicle maintenance. There will also be a series of special tasks including river rafting, vehicle recovery and tracking, while physical and mental stamina will undoubtedly be pushed to the limit.
They will also be facing extreme changes in temperature, from scorching hot during the day to freezing at night. Aside from the lions and elephants, this arid region is also known for its snakes and scorpions.
The Ranger Odyssey will end on September 18 when the teams return home from Namibia. The winners of the 2014 event will be announced in October.
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