A Guide To The Rhino Charge
Rhino Charge unique off-road car rally is held annually in June to raise money for the construction of a perimeter fence around the Aberdare National Park. This park is a sanctuary for the endangered Black Rhino and an important water catchment area providing water to the Tana and Athi rivers.
The Rhino Charge is an annual off-road motorsport competition held in Kenya in which entrants are be required to visit a number of points (Guard Posts) while travelling the shortest possible distance across difficult, trackless terrain, where speed is not a necessity. The event is organised in order to raise funds to support the activities of the Charitable Trust Rhino Ark.
The event was conceived in 1989 to raise funds for the construction of the Aberdare Electric Fence. Rhino Ark founder Ken Kuhle, Rally Enthusiasts Rob Combes and Brian Haworth mooted the idea of an off-road motorsport event to support the fencing project carried out by the recently established Charitable Trust Rhino Ark. The Trust was committed to saving the dwindling Rhino population in the Aberdare National Park, as well as mitigating human-wildlife conflicts around the National Park. On 4 February 1989, 31 competing vehicles entered the first event which was won by Travers Allison in a Suzuki jeep. Whilst the first Rhino Charge raised only KES 250,000, this amount increased tremendously over the years to reach over KES 90 million in the 2013 event
Vision, Mission and Values
Rhino Charge 1994 Model ‘A’ Ford – oldest ever vehicle in Rhino Charge
The vision of Rhino Charge is to mobilize the public to raise funds for Rhino Ark, the Kenyan conservation charity. For over 25 years Rhino Ark has been raising funds for the building and maintenance of an electrified fence that encircles nearly 400 km of the Aberdare ecosystem. The fence is a vital management tool for ensuring the ecosystem’s long-term integrity. In 2010 Rhino Ark announced a formal commitment to support conservation of other mountain forest ecosystems in Kenya, starting with Mount Kenya and Mount Mau Eburu. These new initiatives are undertaken in addition to the long term commitment to the Aberdares.
The mission of Rhino Charge is to organize an annual off-road motorsport competition that consistently meets the highest standards of excellence and does not adversely impact on the environment in which the events take place.
The values of Rhino Charge are Sportsmanship, Integrity and Commitment to Excellence.
Rhino Charge History
Rhino Charge 1998 Phil Tilley and Crew wait anxiously for the start
The Rhino Charge was conceived in Nairobi, Kenya when Rhino Ark founder Ken Kuhle asked Rally Enthusiast Rob Coombes whether he would organise a motorsport event to help raise funds for the Rhino Ark Charitable Trust that he had recently formed. The trust was committed to saving the dwindling Rhino population in the Aberdare National Park.
The concept discussed was to hold an offroading competition whereby the winner would drive a vehicle to the highest altitude on Mount Kenya. Rob then discussed the idea with Brian Haworth who was enthusiastic and agreed to join Rob in organising it. Presentations to Kenya Wildlife Service quickly determined that the permission to hold the event on Mount Kenya would not be granted and the concept went back to the drawing board. Some years prior to this, Brian had recced a route around Mount Longonot for an off road event at the request of Derek Gates (Safari Rally organiser). It never took place as they decided to hold a mini event at Hell’s Gate National Park instead. Brian’s concept was to use distance, rather than speed as the deciding factor, this was to prove the basis for what would become the Rhino Charge.
Based on this experience and after much discussion, Rob and Brian decided to attempt an event to drive over Mount Suswa in the Rift Valley. Two controls would be sited on either side of the Volcano and whoever did it in the shortest distance would be the winner. One Sunday morning in early 1989 the two set off, with motor bikes, headed for the southern slopes of Mount Suswa. After an exhausting day mostly “carrying” the bikes, and still only half way up Suswa they had to head back to base, the idea wasn’t going to work! They sat looking across the Suswa plains with Lake Magadi in the distance, several small hills and large luggas in the foreground. Why not put a control on the top of each hill and one at the bottom of the escarpment? The competitors would have to find their way across the luggas to get to the hills! The following weekend, prepared with camping gear, motor bikes and their families, they spent two days driving and riding around the area setting out what eventually became the venue for the first ever Rhino Charge. The rest, as they say is history…
31 competing vehicles entered 4 February 1989 event won by Travers Allison in a Suzuki Jeep. Distance was measured with the vehicle’s standard odometer. These pioneers probably had no idea of the huge interest this small event would attract in the years to come.
At the core of the Rhino Charge is a highly dedicated group of individuals that comprise the Rhino Charge Committee. Over 25 years later, many of the original committee members are still deeply involved in the Charge.
Rob and Ken are no longer with us, while Brian is still assisting the preparation of the Rhino Charge in many ways. Their legacy is a concept that has developed into the toughest offroad event on the continent and possibly anywhere. It has gained international acclaim and attracts entries from all over the world. The Kudos of winning the Rhino Charge is highly coveted in Kenya and elsewhere. Few Kenyans are not touched by the event in some way, whether taking part, being involved in the organisation, or digging into their pockets for sponsorship. By April every year, the Rhino Charge Fever hits Kenya. Wherever you go, cars are being prepared in garages, tested on and off the road. Shops are full of camping equipment, and the words “where are we going this time?” are heard everywhere. Then, on the Madaraka Day weekend, the exodus begins, and thousands of enthusiasts head for the hills for another Rhino Charge.
Rhino Charge The Competition
Rhino Charge 2006 spectator numbers are getting bigger every year
The Rhino Charge is a one-day off-road event during which a maximum of 65 competitors are required to visit 13 control points scattered over approximately 100 square kilometres of rough terrain within a 10 hours period. Supplied with a 1:50,000 scale map of the venue and the GPS coordinates of the 13 control points, each competing team decides the route they want to follow. The winner is the competitor who finishes at the control point where he started having visited all the other control points in the shortest distance (GPS measured).
The Charge is a unique and exciting competition that requires bravery and a high level of skill in off-road driving and navigation. To prevent adverse environmental impacts, entries to the event are limited to 65 vehicles. The popularity of the Charge is such that the organisers have introduced a preferential entry strategy favouring high value fund raisers because would be entrants far exceed available places in the even
Rhino Charge How It Works
The Rhino Charge is organised by a committee of professional volunteers from various disciplines. Each member of this dedicated team offers his or her time, expertise and resources to ensure that the event is run successfully and to the highest standards. The event is held in a different location each year in some of the most remote and wild areas of Kenya. The preparation requires the search for a suitable venue followed by the negotiations with the resident local community and the actual event organisation. Each competition venue is designed with full participation of local community representatives and is sensitive to local considerations. This process takes many months in which the Rhino Charge Committee volunteers their time and commitment to go on Rhino Charge recces in their free time to organise the next event.
The event, supported by event sponsors, guard post sponsors and raffle sponsors takes place at the end of May/beginning of June each year around the Kenyan public holiday Madaraka Day and is open to all, subject to the Rules and Regulations stipulated by the organising Committee. The Committee keeps the event location secret until the day of the event. The secrecy of the location prevents people from being tempted to look at the site ahead of time. A map of the past Rhino Charge venues can be downloaded here (Courtesy of Microsoft Encarta).
The event is organised with the approval of the County Government, local District Commissioner, the Kenya Wildlife Service, the Governing Body of Motorsport in Kenya and the land owner(s) / host community.
Fundraising For Conservation
The Rhino Charge is an annual off-road 4×4 competition held in Kenya in which entrants are required to visit 13 points (Guard Posts) while travelling the shortest possible distance across difficult, trackless terrain, where speed is not a necessity. The event is organised in order to raise funds to support the activities of the Charitable Trust Rhino Ark.
The event was conceived in 1989 to raise funds for the construction of the Aberdare Electric Fence. Rhino Ark founder Ken Kuhle, Rally Enthusiasts Rob Combes and Brian Haworth mooted the idea of an off-road 4×4 event to support the fencing project carried out by the then recently established Charitable Trust, Rhino Ark. The Trust was committed to saving the dwindling Rhino population in the Aberdare National Park, as well as mitigating human-wildlife conflicts around the National Park. On 4 February 1989, 31 competing vehicles entered the first event which was won by Travers Allison in a Suzuki jeep. Whilst the first Rhino Charge raised only KES 250,000, this amount increased tremendously over the years to reach KES 139 million in the 2016 event.
Till today, the Rhino Charge continues to raise funds for the Rhino Ark Charitable Trust. The Rhino Ark projects, which are supported by the funds raised from the Rhino Charge, are multifaceted and are embedded in the overall philosophy HUMANS IN HARMONY WITH HABITAT AND WILDLIFE.
As a conservation organisation, Rhino Ark is deeply sensitive to minimising any environmental impacts that could derive from its operations. This extends to the Rhino Charge, Rhino Ark’s main fund raising event to support the conservation of Kenya’s ‘water towers’. The Rhino Charge always has and always will take great care to minimise and monitor its footprint. Together with Stanbic, who have enabled independent Environmental Impact Assessments at Rhino Charge venues, it is ensured that the monitoring is comprehensive and scientifically precise. This double check, conducted to exacting standards, is welcomed by the organisers, participants and sponsors alike, not only as an assurance that the Rhino Charge does no harm but also as an insurance that any negative impact which might arise in future can be rapidly identified and remedied.
Mitigating the impact of the competition cars
The format of the Rhino Charge was developed towards minimising the impact of the competition cars on the environment:
To prevent significant impacts the duration of the competition is limited to 10 hours and only 65 competition cars can participate in the event;
To avoid cumulative impacts from consecutive events, the Rhino Charge is organised each year in a different location.
In 2008 Rhino Ark commissioned an environmental and social impact audit of representative samples of venues where the Rhino Charge event has been held. The venues assessed were Tassia Ranch (Mukogodo Division, Laikipia), Swuari Lagha (Wamba Division, Samburu), Ol Kinyei Group Ranch (Mara Division, Narok), and Lorongoswa Group Ranch (Kajiado). The audit was carried out by African Conservation Centre. The audit found that there were minimal impacts on the sites arising from Rhino Charge activities. Recommendations arising from the audit were incorporated into subsequent event venues and course designs.
Recycling the waste generated on the venue
One of the main environmental challenges of organising an event with close to 3,500 participants and spectators in the most remote wilderness areas of Kenya is the management of waste. Keeping with Rhino Ark’s conservation mission, the Rhino Charge Committee is committed to leaving each venue as it was found. To this end, stringent rules have been set by the Committee to ensure that no waste is left in the entire Rhino Charge venue. This includes a fine system that is strictly implemented to address wastes by competitors. In addition, with the support of key sponsors, wastes are collected across the venue, including in the Spectator Camp and at the Gauntlet. To promote waste recycling, a Waste Sorting Station is set up at the venue. Glass, cans and tins, plastic bottles, among others, are separated and brought back to Nairobi for recycling. In the 2013 event, almost 50 cubic metres of waste were properly sorted and removed from the venue for recycling.
Finally, comprehensive post event reviews of each event site are undertaken in collaboration with the local communities. The organisers aims at leaving each venue as it was found.
In the interests of ecological conservation and due to the nature of the ground to be covered, the organisers limit the number of entries to 65 cars. Entries are accepted on a strict policy of “First Come – First Served” within the following categories until the maximum is reached:
Before 1 July of each year: All entries from the previous Rhino Charge who raised in excess of KES 2 million shillings are offered automatic entry and need to confirm their entry in the next event before the 1st July.
Between 1 July and 31 July: Entrants pledging a minimum of KES 1.5 million.
Between 1 August and 30 August: Entrants pledging a minimum of KES 1.25 million.
Between 1 September and 30 September: Entrants pledging a minimum of KES 1 million.
From 1 October onwards: Entrants pledging a minimum of KES 750,000.
Any Entrants who have entered in categories 1 – 5 as listed above, who fail to reach their pledged sponsorship, may be prevented from starting, and may also be refused entry to future events.
The detailed entry requirements can be found in the event’s rules & regulations, which can be found in the Downloads section.
The Rhino Charge Raffle was introduced in 2002 as a tool to assist Rhino Charge competing teams with fundraising and to thank car sponsors for their support. The Raffle offers every donation of KES 2,000 a chance to win a prize, which is a key motivation for the public to support competing cars. Each competing team is issued with enough raffle tickets to cover their initial pledge to the Rhino Charge, and if they raise more money, they are entitled to the equivalent number of raffle tickets more. Every car sponsor is entitled to one ticket per KES 2,000 of sponsorship and it is the responsibility of the entrant who receives the sponsorship to issue the correct number of raffle tickets to his sponsor. The competing team entrants are also responsible for the collection of raffle prizes and handing them over to the winning sponsor.
The Raffle is organised by a Raffle Committee that voluntarily works towards securing prizes from over 100 generous raffle sponsors.
If you are interested in donating a Raffle prize please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The numerous sponsors of the Rhino Charge provide generous support towards the event. Each donation is invaluable to the running of the event.
At the Rhino Charge, we speak of 4 different sponsor categories:
1. Service sponsors, those who directly support the operations of the event
2. Guard post sponsors, those who sponsor the 13 guard posts through which each competing car has to go in order to win the event
3. Raffle sponsors (for more information please see separate point on this map)
4. Car sponsors.
As there are countless sponsors who support the 65 competing teams, please visit the competitor page on our website and click on the team profiles to learn more about the individual car sponsors.
To learn more about our sponsors, please visit the sponsor page on our website
The Rhino Charge is held in a different location each year and is organised in very close cooperation with the respective host community. Once a venue is identified by the Rhino Charge organisers (Course Design Subcommittee) and the host community has agreed to host the Rhino Charge on their land, the members of the host community form a local organising committee. This committee is made up of representatives of the Rhino Charge host community, with whom we work together very closely for the duration of the Rhino Charge preparations (6-8 months). This cooperation allows for an understanding and consideration of local circumstances, which are all part of the preparations and the organisation process. Without the local organising committee, no Rhino Charge would be possible, as it is their knowledge and support that allows us to hold a successful event, year after year.
During the preparations of each Rhino Charge the event organisers hire local workers to assist in setting up the venue infrastructure, hence provide income generating activities. This gives the host community a tremendous boost, as jobs and income generating activities are scarce in the remote areas in which the Rhino Charge takes place.
Furthermore, the Rhino Charge organisers have implemented the Vehicle Pass, known as the Landowner Access Fee (LAF) to benefit the local host communities. The money raised through this fee goes directly to the community. The money is then used for community projects, such as the construction of school classrooms or the installation of boreholes.
The names and pictures of the local organising committee will be published in the About section of the website on the day the Rhino Charge venue opens its doors for the public.
Rhino Charge Accommodation
The following camp operators are the accredited camp operators for this years Rhino Charge: These accredited camp operators have gone through a tendering process and were selected as the Rhino Charge accredited camp operators out of all the applications which were received within the given deadline.
Please note that SELF-CAMPERS must also register and book their accommodation (Bunduz Self-Camping options) via the Rhino Charge ticketing portal. The self-camping options include communal showers, toilets, security and garbage collection.
All options listed above are rates per person, full board (excluding self-camping option), for a 2 night package. The accommodation rates are payable as follows:
0 – 5 years = free of charge
6 – 11 years = pay 75% of adult price
12 years and above = pay full price
Services included for the self-camping option are toilet (1 per 5 people) and shower facilities (1 per 5 people), garbage collection and communal security. For more information on the full board accommodation packages, please download the camp operator’s flyers by clicking below:
Bunduz – Budget Option
Bunduz – Economy Option
Tarpo – Luxury Option
Any cancellations or refunds are done directly through the camp operator of your choice and yourself with the following refund policy applying to ALL accommodation bookings;
100% refund if booking cancelled before or on the 31st March 2017;
75% refund if booking cancelled on or after 1st April but before or on 15th April 2017;
50% refund if booking cancelled on or after 16th April but before or on 30th April 2017;
25% refund if booking cancelled on or after 1st May but before or on 15th May 2017;
No refund if booking cancelled on or after 16th May 2017.
Rhino Charge Contacts
Attraction Type: Special Interest
Category: Special Event
Region: Mt. Kenya
City / Town: Isiolo
Telephone: 254 733 632460
254 20 213 6011
254 724 604233
Entrance Fee: Yes