In 2010, 18 lucky challengers emulated the 2009 challenge, cycling 330km in 7 days across the dust, sand and rock of the Damaraland Desert.
The challengers brave enough to take on the desert were:
David Ryan – Rhino Africa’s fearless leader.
Charlie David – Canadian actor of Dantes Cove fame.
Boyd Varty – Londolozi Game Reserves eco-warrior!
Brett Roux – A friend to the Varty family, the fittest challenger!
Shan Varty – The Grand Dame of Londolozi.
Bronwyn Varty – Another Londolozi challenger brave enough!
Richard Laburn – Famed Londolozi blogger (hopefully we’ll see some videos form this man)
Debra Wolf – Works for Murray & Roberts in Johannesburg.
Leigh-Ann Combrink – Rhino African and leader of this expedition.
Anton De Wit – Rhino Africa’s smiling face (will he keep the smile through the pain?)
Ingo Bruggeman – The German contingent from Rhino Afrika.
Peter Allanson – From Lion Roars and a very experienced MTBer.
Susan Van Diggele – From the Mantis Collection.
Jaco Ehlers – From those amazing Singita Lodges!
Ben Goosen – The man from Career Junction.
Each participant had to cover his/her participation fee and international flights (an estimated R20,000). Challenge4aCause raised over R800,000 for the Save The Rhino Trust and other charities. This money will fund an anti-poaching unit to help save the desert-adapted and endangered black rhino. Striving to make a difference while experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime adventure in an amazing part of the world.
Below is the grueling 2010 itinerary...
Day One – Friday, 23rd July 10 Airport to Palmwag Lodge
On arrival, travel to Palmwag Lodge. From Windhoek we travel north to Otjiwarongo, Outjo, and Kamanjab over the Grootberg Pass to the heart of the Damaraland.
Palmwag is a palm tree paradise on the Uniab River, which marks the start of our cycling journey.
Day Two – Saturday, 24th July 10 Palmwag circular
We usually leave with first light (Namibian 6:00) as this is the most enjoyable time to cycle. The first day’s cycle is quite easy. We ride along the ‘main’ gravel road in a northerly direction for 20km, and then enter into the Palmwag Consession Area where we follow good jeep-tracks. Through the gravel planes along the Kwakab River we pass some springs and probably see plenty of game – depending on the rainfall!
A visit to the Save the Rhino research centre and a talk by one of the Rhino guides will be organized, depending on their availability.
Day Three – Sunday, 25th July 10 Palmwag to Wereldsend (World’s End)
Today we need to leave early – 6:00 – as it is quite a stretch to a research camp in the middle of nowhere – hence the name – World’s End. We are entering into the heart of the Damaraland and Rhino country with its endless black basalt rock planes. Walking here seems impossible but the wildlife like Springbuck, Oryx, Giraffe, Zebra, Kudu and of course the Rhino have adapted unimaginably into this rugged terrain.
As we are in an area where one of the highest Rhino populations occurs we are on the constant lookout for these wonderful creatures.
There is also a very high population of lions here. These are not your usual savannah lions – a much rougher, tougher, thinner and almost black in colour special species of lion has adapted perfectly to this harsh environment.
Riding today will be tough, long but very exciting. We will ride in a close group with the back-up vehicle close by, just in case we bump into one of the ‘bigger’ animals around. An unexpected confrontation can cause chaos which has to be avoided at all cost.
Day Four – Monday, 26th July 10 Wereldsend to Overhang Rocks
We will briefly go back to civilization and follow one of the bigger gravel roads for 50 km before going back into the wild. Another 20km and a fantastic downhill into the Huab river planes will end our day’s cycle at one of the most spectacular camps on this trip. At the foot of a huge sandstone formation we relax after a long day in the saddle. The spectacular view is enhanced by the ever changing light as the sun sets, and the rock formations change from yellow to orange and almost red. The complete silence is almost scary.
Day Five – Tuesday, 27th July 10 Overhang Rocks to Cliff Camp
We follow the banks of a completely dry Huab river which then unimaginably changes to a 10km stretch of lush green oasis with some natural springs which give life to the desolated area. These springs are the reason why a great population of desert elephants has survived here. After a quick stop at an awesome viewpoint we make our way to the most remote camp on this trip. It will take us at least 6 to 8 hours by car to reach the nearest point of civilization and another 4 hrs to the next town. Cliff Camp is a unique place and a short walk up to the top of the nearby mountain will tell you why. The feeling is overwhelming – you and you alone – and that by bicycle.
The campfire stories will get better and more exciting. But not too late tonight as tomorrow will be a tough day in the saddle.
Day Six – Wednesday, 28th July 10 Cliff Camp to Save The Rhino Ugab Camp
The Namib desert strip runs for over 1500km from south to north, it’s about 200km wide, and ranges from sand dunes in the south, to savannah including the Skeleton Coast, one of the most unforgiving places on earth where many explorers have lost their lives as their ships got stranded here. This desert is kept alive by one if the great rivers, which brings much needed water from the Central Namib plateau. Over hundreds and millions of years these rivers have eaten their way into this harsh landscape in their quest to reach the Atlantic Ocean and have formed a habitat for all the special animals around.
Today we will cross over a watershed to one of these great rivers, the Ugab River. Here the SRT has established a very important research centre where Bernd Brell and his family live. He has collected and processed all data here for a very long time.
The ride is hard and long but the feeling of conquering this desert will keep you going.
Day Seven – Thursday, 29th July 10 SRT Ugab Camp to Guantagab Camp
We cross through some amazing rock formations around the famous Brandberg Mountain – a huge dolomite outcrop 10km in diameter and forming the highest point in Namibia of over 2000m.
Earth movements from 300 million years ago can be seen for kilometers, and topping it off is the Doros Crater, which makes you feel like being on another planet. Another couple of km of ever changing landscape and we’ll pitch the last camp in one of the great dry riverbeds.
Day Eight – Friday, 30th July 10 Guantagab Camp to Doro Nawas
The last day of cycling is relatively short and culminates in a special function to complete one of the THE most special and exciting adventures ever!
Day Nine – Saturday, 31st July 10 Doro Nawas to Windhoek
After breakfast we’ll depart for Windhoek and then to the Airport and then it’s time to say – good bye, auf wiedersehn, tot siens, au revoir, kalale nawa…
You can still help us raise fund to protect the endangered Black Rhino by donating at our pledge page: http://www.rhinoafrica.com/challenge4acause/pledge/
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