On The Rocks.. (Rhino Charge 2016)

On the rocks is how I wanted my drink served after a long day out chasing after charge cars. On the rocks is where every competitor and spectator that made it to the Gauntlet found themselves. On the rocks is where I found my relationship with Safaricom degenerate to when I found out that the gauntlet was their guard-post, yet there was no network coverage!

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On the rocks at the Rhino Charge 2016 gauntlet!

“Should you ever go to your village and not connect to your Safaricom line, this is the guy to call.” That is how I had been introduced (on the eve of the charge) to the signal guru that Safaricom had dispatched to the Rhino Charge 2016 venue. As I paced up and down the gauntlet, I couldn’t help but wonder where and how he had lost his mojo. I later met him and he explained  in an embarrassed mumble, from underneath a Safaricom branded cap that; it was difficult to get network coverage at the gauntlet because it was smack in the middle of a depression. I walked away and stripped him of the title guru in four steps; a letter down with each step.

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Communication satellites at Longonot on our way to Rhino Charge 2016

Rhino Charge 2016 was set in the vast and picturesque Narok County, the home of the world renowned wildlife reserve; Masai Mara! As we drove there aboard Ki-Pumpum, I wondered what adventure the charge had in store for us this time around. Would I be able to get good shots? Is the terrain taunting enough for me to maybe get a shot of a charge vehicle toppling over several times and back on it’s four wheels? Would I be in a position to visit most guard-posts and spy on charge vehicles as they tore ravenously through the thick bush in a bid to win the top prize? I had to wait until the charge day to find out.

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Bunduz adventurers relaxing on arrival at the venue. Ki-Pumpum rests in the background.

For the past 27 years, why does a group of people get out into the wild to find a new trail where millions of shillings are torn away in the form of all-terrain vehicles that maneuver a 12 point circuit spreading over approximately 100km, in a duration of 10 hours? One would wonder. Year in, year out, why do spectators throng the often harsh environment to witness embellished vehicles clamor over rocks and tear through bush while driven by enthusiastically calculative crews that stop at nothing unless their vehicle is reduced to a heap of junk metal? As I retired to my safari chair right by the Bunduz camp bonfire, I watched spectators share their tales from the charge day that had just ended. As we braved the cold dark night of the Masia Mara, I quietly scrolled through the shots I had taken, and that’s when it all dawned on me; the spirit of the Rhino Charge is one charged with the resilience of a people committed to the conservation of the Kenyan wildlife, nature and catchment areas through the protection of mountain echo-systems. The spirit of the Rhino Charge will stop at nothing to see that conservation is upheld!

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No Bush Too Thick! No obstacle will stop the spirit of Rhino Charge

This year, the Rhino Charge raised Kshs. 139,000,000.00 for the Rhino Ark and Kshs. 4,400,000/- for the host community! Of note is that the top two fundraisers were indigenous Kenyan teams. Team Magnate Chargers and Car #23, led by Stanley Kinyanjui and Peter Kinyua respectively. In celebration of the success that Rhino Charge 2016 was, I made sure to bring you some shots of the action… 🙂

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Spectators follow the Rhino Charge from a vantage point

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Spectators look on as Car #36 clamors over a rock

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Rev up that rock!

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A runner leads Car # 42 out of a thicket

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A Masai Moran adorns Peter Kenneth a spectator in traditional regalia

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As they pondered the best route down

 

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The host community loved the show

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A Rhino Ark official looks on as Car # 40 maneuvers a rock

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Let that model pose not fool you. The ladies driving Car #19 had super skills!

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No lugga too deep!

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A spectator engrossed in the action packed gauntlet

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Through it all, and stopping at nothing!

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Just a scratch, let’s push on!

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There is only one way down this rock!

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A contortionist of a vehicle! SimTank #TeamChomz

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Team Frying Squad had spider looking modified vehicle

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Off to the next guard-post

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Go straight through that bush!

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Hang on, can I find a better route?

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Team mates hang on the side to stabilize Car #40 as they leave the gauntlet

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This is the winner of Rhino Charge 2016!

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Car #62 was the highest fundraiser towards Rhino Ark. They raised Kshs. 14,500,000.00

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Car #23 driven by Peter Kinyua raised Kshs. 11,000,000.00 towards the conservation efforts of Rhino Ark

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From the full adventure cooler box Stronger Simtank, refreshments flowed freely as spectators enjoyed.

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A charge car leaves the venue. It was time to say goodbye.

~MASH~

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Roaring Monsters For Charity! (Rhino Charge 2015)

 

I made me some new friends who fear no lions :-)

I made me some new friends who fear no lions 🙂

Ahead of me I had a day filled with nothing but exciting adventure! My sole intent for the day was to chase after largely morphed, roaring monsters of cars with humans tightly clutched on their frames as they tore straight through virgin bush; just to capture some piece of the action for posterity’s sake!

By the bonfire at the Bunduz.com camp

By the bonfire at the Bunduz.com camp

Excited by the adventure the next day had promised to be, I sat by the camp fire and took a generous swig of some good old whisky. I looked up at the stars and listened to the peace that the night was. I smiled for I knew come day-break, this very peace would be torn into a ‘war-zone’ of machines battling it out for supremacy! The Rhino Charge 2015 was here!

Mukhtar Sidi of Bunduz.com briefs campers on arrival at Namnyak Conservancy

Mukhtar Sidi of http://www.bunduz.com briefs campers on arrival at Namnyak Conservancy

Adventurers in the www.bunduz.com overland truck to the Rhino Charge 2015

Adventurers in the http://www.bunduz.com overland truck heading to the Rhino Charge 2015

Our journey from Nairobi was smooth, thanks to the always well prepared http://www.bunduz.com team. The excitement in the overland truck was tangible, with the adventurers chatting away in excited tones and taking many a photograph of the beautiful country that Kenya is. We were however keen on ensuring that we got to the Namnyak Conservancy in Samburu County before 6:00pm as had been advised by the Rhino Charge officials. They had warned that anyone arriving later than that would not be allowed into the venue.

The Picturesque Namnyak Conservancy in Samburu

The Picturesque Namnyak Conservancy in Samburu

At the crack of dawn, I woke up to the singing of birds in the wild lightly laced with the distant roars of the monster cars as they approached the parade ground where they’d all converge prior to the flag off. Soon the machines were all lined up and seemed to flex their muscles to each other with each rev of the engines, their full beam lights peering through the darkness of dawn seemed like mean eyes trained at each other to proclaim war. The chargers held tightly onto the monsters as they wheeled around. Every now and then they hurdled together and converse in hush tones like anxious warriors planning their strategy of attack.

The monster cars of the Rhino Charge 2015 at the dawn parade

The monster cars of the Rhino Charge 2015 at the dawn parade

 

Full beam lights seemed like mean eyes declaring war!

Full beam lights seemed like mean eyes declaring war!

 

With every rev the machines seemed to be flexing their muscles!

With every rev the machines seemed to be flexing their muscles!

 

The parade of might!

The parade of might!

Rhino Charge was first held in 1989 to raise funds for the construction of the Aberdare Electric Fence. Following its success, the project has since been extended to cater for the conservation of Mt Kenya and Mau Eburu. Rhino Charge is a world renowned off-road motor-sport event, as well as major fund raising activity for the conservation efforts of Rhino Ark, the charitable trust which works towards the protection of Kenya’s ‘Water Towers’. The event combines motor-sport, adventure and fun for the purpose of environmental conservation. http://www.bunduz.com organizes adventure parties to this event every year!

Book your next safari adventure with Bunduz.com

Book your next safari adventure with http://www.bunduz.com

I say one is as old as the tune they dance to in their head! This was reaffirmed by the age diversity displayed in the competitor teams at the Rhino Charge. Teams comprised of ladies and gents of all ages each seasoned in their skill either by schooling or experience, some were however evidently out to have a good time and raise funds for the charity!

The tune in his head tells him so! What an interesting fellow!

The tune in his head tells him so! What an interesting fellow!

 

Car No. 64 looking mean and ready with the team aboard

Car No. 64 looking mean and ready with the team on board

 

Car No. 47 had an all ladies team (The Girls With The Pearls) They wore pearls on their hats and round their necks :-)

Car No. 47 had an all ladies team (The Girls With The Pearls) Like amulets, they wore pearls on their hats and round their necks 🙂

The action begun and all the 64 chargers  sped off into the wild. They had 13 guard posts to visit in 10hrs, scattered over about 100 square kilometres of rough terrain. The team that returns to the point where they started, having visited all the other posts covering the shortest distance wins the competition.

Car No. 16 heads out at the start of the race

Car No. 16 heads out at the start of the race

I visited the gauntlet which was an area comprising of three successive posts that the organizers had set aside as the spectators zone to view the competitors in action. I took a few shots here, but I was itching to catch the monster cars in action on treacherous terrain and not at a section where they came to ‘smile and pose’ for the camera. I met a jolly good couple that was also dying to catch the real action and off we went in search of other guard posts using the Rhino Charge map. We sure did catch some action!

The Charge began early in the morning.

The Charge began early in the morning.

 

A charge vehicle tears through bush from the gauntlet

A charge vehicle tears through bush from the gauntlet

 

In out of a lugga as the ladies cheer!

In out of a lugga as the ladies cheer!

 

A monster car emerges from the thicket!

A monster car emerges from the thicket!

 

A runner goes ahead of the pack to check and advise of the terrain

A runner goes ahead of the pack to check and advise of the terrain

 

A little dented, but not out!

A little dented, but not out!

 

No bush too thick is what the Bundu Fundi lives by!

No bush too thick is what the Bundu Fundi lives by!

 

Let us zoom out of this gorge!

Let us zoom out of this gorge! This standard, unmodified Land Rover actually completed the circuit!

 

We've got this one in check!

The mean monster car tackles a gulley

 

Arriving at a guard post

Arriving at a guard post

The 2015 edition of the Rhino Charge thankfully only had minor incidents recorded. One charge vehicle (Car No. 32) however went up in flames following an electrical fault. Car No. 18 dropped out of the race with only 67 metres to finish, as it dragged on with broken engine mounts, non-existent brakes and lost wheel nuts, the starter caught fire and blew the entire electrical system! All teams involved were unharmed and out of danger.

Car No. 32 goes up in flames

Car No. 32 goes up in flames courtesy of BRCK

 

Car No. 64 needed some extinguishing before they could finish the race!

Car No. 64 needed some extinguishing before they could finish the race! Courtesy of BRCK

 

Ladies encountered some radiator problems

Ladies encountered some radiator problems

Of note is that I was able to connect to the internet and update my followers on the happenings of the Rhino Charge, thanks to WIFI set up by Liquid Telcom, Safaricom and BRCK. This was certainly commendable and seeing the local community enjoying internet service was heart warming. I wondered what the morans were surfing through on their phones, could it have been YouTube videos of Chris Brown or news about Bruce.. I mean Caitlyn Jenner? 🙂

At the Craftsman guard post where the Liquid Telcom WIFI signal was the strongest

At the Craftsman guard post where the Liquid Telcom WIFI signal was the strongest

The day was finally over, and as I retired back to my host Bunduz.com campsite I had to fight my mind from wondering where the next Rhino Charge will be held. I had good fun here, and no doubt I pray to attend the next!

Bonus Pics:

Resting at a guard post

Resting at a guard post

 

What route should we take from here?

What route should we take from here?

 

Thanks for keeping my beer chilled as I raced :-)

Thanks for keeping my beer chilled as I raced 🙂

 

I need to fix where that noise is coming from!

I need to fix where that noise is coming from!

 

Security was tight at Namnyak

Security was tight at Namnyak

 

Food was in plenty at Namnyak thanks to Bunduz.com and Mc Frys

Food was in plenty at Namnyak thanks to Bunduz.com and Mc Frys

 

Rhino Charge 2015 was not short of beauties :-)

Rhino Charge 2015 was not short of beauties 🙂

 

The faces of happy www.bunduz.com clients after the charge

The faces of happy http://www.bunduz.com clients after the charge

Macharia Njuguna, Mukhtar Sidi and Ali Said of Bunduz.com at the end of a long and fun filled charge day!

Macharia Njuguna, Mukhtar Sidi and Ali Said of Bunduz.com at the end of a long and fun filled charge day!

Event: Rhino Charge 2015

Location: Namnyak Conservancy, Samburu County, Nothern Kenya

Photography and documentation by: Macharia Njuguna, @macharianjuguna

Adventure and safari organized by: http://www.bunduz.com