The Camel Trophy was an overlanding extravaganza of adventure and exploration. It was launched in 1980 with a race along the trans-Amazonian highway. It was the original overland challenge that has spawned a variety of other races.
There have been some fantastic expeditions to remote destinations such as Mongolia, Borneo, Madagascar, Zaire, Tanzania, Guyana, Papua New Guinea, Siberia and Sulawesi. Destinations were exotic and alluring such as the San Pedro Volcano in Guatemala, Tierra del Fuego in Patagonia and remotest Australia.
Robust vehicles were fundamental to winning the Camel Trophy, as well as committed participants with the relevant expertise and knowledge to keeping the vehicles well maintained. Plus of course good navigators – this was pre-GPS! When the Camel Trophy was first launched, the vehicles were German Jeeps, Range Rovers and the whole spectrum of Land Rovers.
The Camel Trophy ran until 2000 and was superseded by the G4 Challenge in 2003, using Land Rovers and supported by competitors from 16 nations. Despite the large “gas guzzling” vehicles, overlanding does have a social responsibility and Land Rover supported the Red Cross Societies until the cancellation of the event in 2009.
Travel off the beaten track for adventure is at the root of the concept of overlanding. Vehicles have improved over the years to allow more difficult terrain to be traversed. These days they include safety device roll bars, underbody protection and steering guards,. This all enables safer access to remote and beautiful destinations.
Upgraded suspension and transmission components also ensure a more comfortable journey, without compromising the enjoyment of being close to nature and the elements. And vehicles are more reliable than ever before, providing the traveller with a better overlanding holidays and less chance of breaking down.
Let’s face it: if you want to really get away from it all, you need to leave the roads behind! Inspired by the Camel Trophy? If you were to recreate the original overland challenge where would you go?