Adventure

Here’s Your Chance To Explore Kenya During Rhino Charge Competition

Rhino Charge
Written by See Africa Today

If you haven’t been to Kenya for a sporting event, the Rhino Charge is a great choice to shape memories of how beautiful Kenya is under the sun as people enjoy a captivating competition in rugged terrain.

For the last 30 years and counting, the Rhino Charge competition has become a top sports tourism event in Kenya. It is always thrilling watching monstrous specially customized four-wheel-drive vehicles manoeuvre treacherous terrains in the countryside.

Since 1989, the Rhino Charge, an off-road competition has been taking place in the different parts of the country with rugged terrain. The history of this competition traces its inception to the conservation of the Aberdares, a water catchment area for the country.

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At the time, the competition was incepted to raised funds for electric fencing of the Aberdares – a part of it. The idea was first floated by Ken Kulhe, the founder of the prestigious Rhino Ark Lodge in Nyeri, Central Kenya. He was backed by his close buddy and rally lover Rob Combes together with Brian Haworth.

They then mooted the idea and brought it to life for the first time in 1989 when the challenge premiered with the view of having the proceeds used for putting up an electric fence in the Aberdare. On February 4, 1989, hardy vehicles built to handle the vagaries of the tough terrain made a grand entry into the square ready to give a show and they did with a lot of zeal much to the surprise of many people.

Rhino Charge

Rhino Charge. [Photo: Eric Kihiu]

At the end of the competition, the off-road challenged raised Ksh250,000. This was quite an amount at the time. In the present day, the event held annually has managed to raise highs of Ksh90 million going by data provided for the 2013 event. Today, Rhino Ark Charitable Trust manages the event and channels the proceeds to worthy courses in the country.

But what does the Rhino Challenge entail? This competition is for the motor enthusiasts whose adrenaline is directly wired to risk and adventure in the jungle. It is not your average Land Rover that takes part in this daunting competition.

An array of vintage four-wheel-drive vehicles are nearly overhauled and fitted with monster tyres, deeply threaded for better traction, special shock absorbers and suspension and they are raised higher from the ground for obvious reasons.

They then start on trackless routes with trees, shrubs and rocks. Speed is not a factor to be considered. Speed is penalized; it is not allowed. What is considered is the prowess to manoeuvre this terrain and the ability of the vehicle to withstand the pressure and make it to the end within the shortest time. The vehicles are hardy, with strong diesel engines behind the torque generation to scale rock-filled terrains with shrubs.

Rhino Ark

Rhino Charge challenge. [Photo: Africa Press]

Each driver must get to designated guard posts as part of the designated route. This earns them points and the winner is the driver who passes through all the guard posts to the final destination in the shortest time. It is the ultimate test for courage and off-road driving skills.

The Rhino Challenge has been pivotal in protecting rhinos in the country which are now endangered species. The money raised through the challenge goes to the conservation and protection of rhinos across the country.

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There are less than 1,000 black rhinos in Kenya from 20,000 in 1960. They were for decades hunted down to near extinction by poachers killing them for their horns. Rhino horns are in some Asian countries believed to have some medicinal and ornamental value. Wildlife trophy black market in Asia and some parts of the world contributed greatly to the dwindling of rhinos in Kenya.

Rhino Charge is held every year between May and June. The organizers of the event pick a location and engage the local community in what they can expect.

The competitors gain entry by having contributions above Ksh2 million in previous Rhino Charge events or pledge sponsorship of different amounts of between Ksh750,000 and Ksh1.5 million.

 

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About the author

See Africa Today

Pharis Kinyua is the editor of See Africa Today. With over seven years of experience in digital media, he has a soft spot for African tours and travel. His drive is to tell the rest of the world what Africa offers, the best accommodation facilities, national parks, culture, shopping malls and best airline deals to travel to Africa

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