Picture a landscape where there is absolutely NOTHING for hundreds of km’s but tyre cutting rocks and sand dunes. This is what I saw for the first time in my life on the Ranger Odyssey in early August!
There’s nothing quite like that sight, along with the sight of 20 Ford Rangers driving in convoy through some of the roughest terrain Namibia had to offer during the 2015 Ranger Odyssey.
Our Ranger Odyssey experience all kicked off on Carlinn’s birthday, which for her was pretty damn awesome since she’s used to waking up on her birthday with breakfast in a cosy bed, coffee and presents! This time it started with a bad airport coffee and a lot of excitement because we were about to head off on another adventure into the unknown!
Upon arrival in Windhoek from a quick hour and a half flight, we were greeted by the pilot of bush plane we were about to board for another 2 hour flight to a little oasis in the middle of nowhere called Palmwag Lodge! He dropped us off, picked up the media contestants that were there before us as well as another 2 influencers, and off they flew with a trail of dust behind him.
Let me tell you something about dust… It’s a real thing when out in the desert and never before have I seen or dealt with so much dust, so keeping my gear clean and dust free at all times was a reality from the word go, but we were officially on the Ranger Odyssey, so we didn’t really give a damn about dust and it didn’t take us long to dirty our brand new Drimac clothing that we received the night before in our 2nd to none goodie bag of essentials.
I’d already packed my bag FULL of my Bush Camping Essentials, but the extra goodies were awesome and included Drimac clothing, Ford Buff’s, Head Lights and my favourite the Me2Ido Power Banks that charged my phone for the entire 5 days I was there on a single charge in our hotel before we left!
Day 01 was spent watching the contestants PDI their vehicles and drinking LOADS of water because it was DAMN hot! We were also visited by a Desert Elephant that made its way past us, just meters from where we were busy removing dust from the Rangers.
The evening however was spent out in the open plains outside camp on an pretty rad 7km bush walk with a guide, where I was able to take my new K-Way Boots out for the first time! They are amazing for hiking and loved these bad boys so much on the trip!
The walk was followed by dinner and then stories from all the contestants around the fire, where the same desert elephant from earlier came for a graze on the bushes next to us.
Before I went to bed that night, I stayed up with some of the contestants listening to some of the stories about their Ranger Odyssey experience so far, all while doing a time-lapse of the stars that were not faded away because of the Full Moon.
Day 02 started with me waking up thinking “HOW IS IT POSSIBLE TO BE THIS COLD!”! It was ZERO degrees and our sleeping bags were built for an 8 degree minimum temperature. Once everyone got their fingers warmed up, it was time to take down tents, pack the vehicles and head off to the Desolation Valley, which is not named that for fun and games! There is NOTHING out there except a miles and miles of rocks and dunes. As we were leaving Palmwag, we stopped to re-fuel our vehicles, which is where I saw a local Himba lady standing selling some beads. I approached to ask if I could take her photo, which she wanted to charge for. The story of how I bartered her down from Fifty Namibian Dollars to Five South African Rand for the actual photo is for another time, but here is the shot. It was here that I got to get my hands on the steering wheel of the powerful Ford Ranger and for the first time in my life, I was 4x4ing! The feeling one gets from driving in that kind of environment is pretty damn special! Not only did the knowledge of the De Rust Outdoor instructors help me through some crazy terrain I wouldn’t have thought possible to drive through, but Bernard taught me so much about the vehicle itself and what it’s actually capable of in different situations from rocky terrain to loose desert sand! We drove for the entire day and arrived at our next campsite in the middle of nowhere just in time to put the tents up, get a fire going and watch the sunset, but the story most of us were talking about was the terrain we went through to get to where Collin Mileman was waiting at the top of a mountain so he could get an epic shot of all cars in convoy. Here’s the shot! The evening was spent listening to more humanitarian speeches by the contestants and when we were done, I messed around with some light painting shots as well as a group shot with everyone using their torches around the fire. Day 03 kicked off with some delicious tasty wheat, made by the two cooks we had on the trip that made some of the most delicious meals I’ve ever had while camping! In fact, on our first morning, we awoke to french toast and a HEAP of bacon! Once everyone was done with their breakfast and taking down the tents, Carlinn and I made our way to the media guys for a quick check-in on reality with the Imersat Satellite uplink to the internet! Who would have though sitting in the middle of the desert we’d ever be able to check our mails and push out a tweet or two!
The rest of the day was spent driving from the dry rocky landscape of the Desolation Valley through to the foot of Namibia’s highest mountains, the Brandberg Mountain Range. There were a few highlights from that day of driving, from the fairy circle that Carlinn and I got a selfie in, through to the stunning location where we stopped for lunch where I climbed to the top of a koppie to take an awesome pano and there was an old broken down car that we had a little fun with. Just before we arrived at the campsite, we stopped in an area that looks like it is the incredible hulk’s playground! There are gigantic heaps of rocks sprayed out all over a massive flat plain! I remember saying to myself for the millionth time on the trip, “Wow, I’ve never seen anything quite like this!”. The last two nights of the Ranger Odyssey experience were spent in that campsite, which was just amazing! The weather was warm every night, the stars were out in full force before the moon rose and I managed to capture a spectacular time-lapse of a perfect African sunrise.
Since we didn’t have to do any more driving around, this also gave us a bit of extra time to chat to the contestants to get more of an idea as to what their humanitarian projects were all about, so when it came to giving out the Ranger Dollars, we had 2 candidates in mind, of which one of them took the prize and it was Jacobus Muller.
The Odyssey has been over for a month now and all I can seem to think about is when I’ll be going on my next adventure and will it be in a Ford Ranger again… Let’s hope it is because that car is not only Built Tough, it’s built for adventure!
Speaking of adventure, the winner of the 2015 Ranger Odyssey was announced at the 2nd annual Ford Go Further conference in Johannesburg a week after getting back from Namibia, and it was Liané van Dyk that won herself a Ford Ranger along with R5,000 fuel a month for a year! Congrats Liané! May the next 12 months of adventure bring you to some incredible places in and around this beautiful country we call home!
Watch our Ranger Odyssey Travel Diary to see what we got up to while on our adventure through Namibia, all thanks to the Ford Motor Company South Africa and De Rust Outdoor!