Brian Joss –
Entries are now open for Ford’s 2015 Ranger Odyssey.
The third edition of the annual Ranger Odyssey will see 20 contestants from around Africa navigating through the extremely challenging north-western region of Namibia on a 12-day expedition that will push each person to the limit.
Following last year’s exploration of the Kaokoland in the far north-east corner of Namibia, the new route for 2015 heads north-west and traverses the Damaraland region. The adventure starts off at Spitzkoppe and travels through Palmwag, Khuwarib and the barren and unforgiving Desolation Trail that follows the Huab River to Desolation Valley.
Along with tackling some extreme off-roading, from desert plains to soft river beds and punishing rock trails, the contestants will witness some of the region’s most breathtaking sights. These include a crater in Palmwag that is a Unesco heritage site, along with Brandberg which happens to be Namibia’s highest mountain at over 2 600 m.
“The Ranger Odyssey is a unique event that gives dynamic individuals with a spirit for adventure the chance to see some of the most spectacular parts of Africa,” says Tracey Delate, General Marketing Manager, Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA).
“It will also give them the opportunity to take on some of Africa’s most rugged and remote 4×4 trails while behind the wheel of the ‘Built Ford Tough’ Ranger,” Delate says.
While the life-changing experience is an exceptional prize in itself, there’s also the allure of the grand prize which includes the use of an Odyssey-spec Ranger for a year, along with R5 000 worth of fuel every month.
The first Ranger Odyssey in 2012 had around 700 entries, while last year more than 8 000 people registered for the competition.
The competitive focus of Ranger Odyssey has been stepped up for the 2015 edition, as it returns to an individual-based competition with an even stronger focus on points-scoring special challenges that will ultimately determine the overall winner.
It’s not all about sheer brawn, however, as there’s an equal split between mental and physical tasks, while overall endurance in Namibia’s unforgiving environment will remain key.
The process begins with the call-to-entry, and those interested in participating are required to register online at www.rangerodyssey.com by the closing date of May 24 for South Africa and neighbouring countries. The application requires submitting a short personal biography, followed up with a ‘selfie’ photograph taken with an Odyssey-branded Ranger at any Ford dealership.
Visit www.RangerOdyssey.com for more information.
A selection committee will then review the applications and narrow the selection down to 40 semi-finalists selected from South Africa, Mozambique, Angola, Nigeria and Ivory Coast, who will be chosen to attend a four-day Boot Camp in the Karoo in June.
The intensive training and evaluation programme will determine who is tough enough for the 12-day Namibian adventure. Just 20 finalists will be chosen for the life-changing expedition which takes place from July 23 to August 3.
Throughout the Ranger Odyssey in Namibia, the contestants will be scored each day on a wide variety of aspects, including off-road driving skills, communication, vehicle and location knowledge, as well as physical and mental endurance. There will also be several special tasks set up along the route to test the likes of vehicle recovery techniques and navigation.
In a fresh new twist, the competition now includes two elimination stages, where the two lowest-scoring contestants will leave the group on day four, followed by another four contestants on day 10.
The Ranger Odyssey website will include a leader board that will be updated daily with current scores. However, the organisers will retain an element of mystery and intrigue with the scores and ranking of the top performers remaining secret right through to the announcement of the winner on August 11.
The trip will once again feature a community project which, this year, will benefit the Palmwag community that runs the local 4×4 concession in the region.
For those that don’t make it onto the Odyssey, along with families and friends of the Top 20 finalists, there is an added bonus with the ‘Back Seat Driver’ competition that runs on the Ranger Odyssey website.
The competition runs until August 4, and participants are required to register on the site, interact by viewing the content – including the daily blogs, photographs and videos – and book a test drive from June 18.