This article was written in the January 2001 edition of the Land Rover Owner International (LRO) I feel it covers what the event was all about; Adventure, Teamwork, personal achievement, endurance and being part of something exciting! enjoy.
One hump or two?
For 19 Glorious years, the Camel Trophy pitted man against machine. LRO looks back at the ultimate Land Rover endurance challenge.
From the jungles of Borneo to the Amazon River, the Camel Trophy was the ultimate test of skill and stamina. Not only for the crews taking part from all over the world, but also for a selection of world-
Born in 1980, the Camel Trophy was designed to test the fitness of both man and machine, as teams competed in a 1.000-
Indeed, the spirit of the Camel Trophy is often misunderstood. It never was an all-
The first Trophy was a low-
Their quest captured the imagination of adventurers all over the world and the foundations for the Camel Trophy were well and truly laid out.
The following year Land Rover supplied the vehicles in a move that would set the precedent for the next 18 years of the Camel Trophy. The first Solihull vehicles were V8 Range Rovers, the venue: the Indonesian island of Sumatra.
The stage was set for the Land Rover to prove unequivocally that its vehicles were tougher that the rest.
The first Land Rover appearance in the Camel Trophy takes place on the island of Sumatra. A 1,600-
Five teams take part in a handful of two-
Winners: Christian Swoboda and Knuth Mentel Germany
Two new dimensions added to the Camel Trophy for 1982. The first was the introduction German crews, which set the international element of future events. The second was the introduction of special tasks which the five teams, from Germany, Netherlands, America and Italy, were required to complete along the 1.600km (994-
1983: Zaire -
The Camel Trophy makes the first of three trips to Africa, plugging through the jungles of Zaire and visiting primitive civilizations along a 1.600km (994-
The combination of humid, atmospheric conditions and riotous temperatures make the going tough, but the Series IIIs cope admirably. The Camel Trophy doctor makes him self popular among the natives, holding clinics and administering medicines in villages en route.
The new 110 makes its debut as the Trophy returns to the Transamazonica highway. The 2.000km (1.232-
The event is threatened with cancellation after a series of tropical rainstorms make most of the roads impassable, but the sheer dedication and co-
1985: Borneo -
A pair of significant debuts marks the 1985 Camel Trophy as one of the most important in the event's history. The first is the appearance of :he 90, proving beyond doubt that it is the most competent vehicle ever to emerge from Solihull.
The second debut is the Team Spirit Award, given to the team that helps as many other competitors as possible and generally keeps morale going among the teams.
Again, the Trophy is awash with steaming rain and the going is tough, sometimes covering only 5km a day.
A further six teams join the event, with two each from Japan, Brazil and the Canary Islands, bringing the numbers up to 18 vehicles.
Winners: Heinz Kallin and Bernd Strohdach, Germany. Team Spirit Award. Trio Rosolberg and Carlos Probst, Brazil.
1986: Australia -
The Camel Trophy's first trip Down Under is a stark contrast to previous events. Gone are the rain-
At 3,218km (2,000-
This is the first year a British team competes in the event, with newcomers also from Australia, North America, Spain, Malaysia and France, who reign victorious on their first event.
1987: Madagascar -
The Turbo diesel Range Rover makes its debut as the Camel Trophy heads out to the Indian Ocean. The 2,252km (1,400-
A total of 14 teams enter, with Turkey replacing Australia in the international line up.
All teams successfully completed the epic journey.
1988: Sulawesi -
The Camel Trophy heads back to its birthplace on the islands of Indonesia, this time choosing the rugged plateaux and dense jungle of Sulawesi for a soul-
Special tasks are introduced for the competing teams, which include newcomers Argentina, adding an extra element of competition to the Trophy.
Route repairs and bridge building are the main tasks. Adding more than a day to the teams' time in the jungle.
1989: The Amazon -
At 1,600KM (994-
Luckily, the fleet of well-
Their victory earns them the prestigious Segrave Trophy, named after the former Land Speed Record holder, Henry Segrave. The award is given annually for outstanding achievement on land, sea or air.
The Camel Trophy is the first international motor sport event to take place in the USSR and, also for the first time, uses a fleet of 110s and 127 Crew Cabs as support vehicles.
The 1991 event is one of the most interesting Camel Trophy's, following the route of Dr David Livingstone's trail to the source of the Nile.
Another two firsts are the introduction of a prize for the team that completes the most special tasks en route, as well as this being the first Camel Trophy to cross a national border.
Discoverys are used again, although this time they are five-
Winners: Menderes Uktu and Bulent Ozlel; Turkev. Team Spirit Award' Menderes Uktu and Bulent Ozler Turkey: Special Task Award: Joseph Atmann and Peter Widhalm, Austria.
1992: Guyana -
Another change in the face of the Camel Trophy is the introduction of sections which don't need Land Rovers -
There's still plenty to keep the Discovery's amused though, with a combination of dusty tracks and river crossings through the forests and mountains of Brazil and Guyana.
Overall, 16 teams take part including new entries from Poland, Greece and the Commonwealth of Independent States (formerly the USSR).
Yet another new tack for the Camel Trophy this year, as the event goes in a complete circle round the Malaysia state of Sabah.
As well as the usual Camel activities, one of the special tasks is to build a scientific research station in an unexplored jungle, referred to by natives as the 'Lost World'.
Flash floods, humidity and temperatures as high as 45 degrees Celsius endanger the teams, but the spirit of adventure pulls all 16 through without harm. (Go to the bottom of the page for a Great story about an Ex-
Winners: Tim Hensley and Michael Hussey, US. Team Spirit Award Ellis Martin and Francisco Zarate,Canary Islands. Special Task Award: Paul Gasser and Loup Tournand, France
1994: Argentina, Paraguay, Chile-
Back to south America again, where the diverse climate and terrain make for some fascinating driving.This time, the Trophy crosses three frontiers, taking in Argentina, Paraguay and Chile, with a mixture of jungle conditions, arid deserts and twisty, perilous mountain tracks, including the aptly named 'Road to Hell'.
The 1994 event is one of the longer distance Trophy's. With a total road mileage of 2.500km (1.554-
1995: Mundo Maya-
The Camel Trophy moves a bit further north for 1995, crossing the borders of Belize, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, and back to Belize in a large loop.
One of the special tasks involves taking a group of archaeologists into the jungle to execute a Mayan temple excavation and discover more about one of the world's oldest civilizations.
Mundo Maya '95 also sees the introduction of the new 300Tdi Discovery's to the joys of Camelling, with 20 team vehicles and at least as many in support.
Winners: Zdenek Nemec and Marek Rocejdl, Czech Republic. Team Spirit Award: Pavel Bogomolov and Sergei Fenev, Russia. Special Task Award: Zdenek Nemec and Marek Rocejdl, Czech Republic.
It's back to BORNEO for the 1996 Camel Trophy, with 20 teams in Discovery 300Tdi's tackling 1,850km (1,150-
The mud is thick and glutinous, the river crossings are roof deep and the tracks, many of which have not been driven in years, have all but disappeared.
The event sees the introduction of a new award, the Land Rover Award, awarded to the Greeks for the best performance in vehicle-
Land Rover Award: Miltos Farmakis and Nikos Sotirchos, Greece.
The Trophy ventures to Asia for the 1997 event, where it encounters extreme temperatures from as low as minus 12 degrees Celsius in the mountains to 45 degrees plus in the Gobi Desert.
The different cultures are amazing, too, with many Mongolians living a traditional lifestyle and maintaining a culture that has been passed down through tens of generations.
The emphasis is taken away from Land Rovers slightly (although they remain very much a part) as the event is split into three separate sections: off-
1998: Terra Del Fuego -
All good things come to an end, and so it is that Land Rover finally dissolves its connections with the Camel Trophy. But not without going out with a bang. The 1998 Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire) event takes in Chile and Argentina, with conditions ranging from deep snow in the Chilean mountains to baking heat on lower ground.
But it is the choice of vehicle which makes this year different. Gone are the ever-
Tierra Del Fuego also sees the first all-
As the final Freelander rolls across the finishing line at Ushuaia, on the Argentine Coast, an era ends. The Land Rovers are to disappear and, despite running the event with Honda CR-
A Diamond of a Land Rover
I love this little story about what an unsuspecting buyer found in his Ex Camel Trophy Land Rover
I discovered her in a secondhand car lot along Old Klang Road in 1999. She was in ash gold, looked tired; the car dealer told me that the manual 1992 Discovery 200 Tdi was pre-
I bought her anyway because she had extra safety features like bull bar, winch and an unusual looking, well padded roll cage.
I named her Oro, Spanish for gold because she was to work in my gold mine in Trengganu.
Like all good old Landrovers, Oro stalled on our first trip out near Bentong, a burnt main bearing was the cause!
Two months later the turbo gave way, the turbo repair mechanic, noticing the roll cage, told me that Oro looked like one of the original Camel Trophy Discovery, which Land Rover Malaysia gave away as lucky draws after the 1993 Sabah CT.
I traced the previous owner from the car register, who told me that he bought the vehicle from a Malay chap who won her in a lucky draw. So Oro was indeed one of the CT competition vehicles! For city use he had discarded the original Camel Trophy roof rack complete with the spot lights and the CT emblem!
After a frantic 2 weeks search and negotiation, I managed to buy back from the scrap yard the original roof rack, sand ladder, jerry can, exhaust air jack. I soon refitted the accessories and painted Oro in CT colour, completed with stickers reproduced by a fellow LROM member.
Oro in her true colours was presented proudly to our fellow members during the 2003 LROM AGM at Fraser’s Hill.
The following information about Camel Trophy Sabah 1993 was taken from the web.
Route: Circum navigation, Kota Kinabalu to Kota Kinabalu
Distance: 1,500 km
Teams: United States, France, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Greece, the Netherlands, Canary Islands, Italy, Turkey, Poland, Russia, Malaysia, Japan
Winner: United States (Tim Hensley & Michael Hussey)
Team Spirit Award: Canary Islands (Ellis Martin & Francisco Zarate)
Special Tasks Award: France (Paul Gasser & Loup Tournand)
Oro had served me well, been working hard in the mines, and had taken part in many LROM events.
She was noisy on the road; especially annoying was the consistent rattle from the partly bent bull bar, sounded like some rock chips were trapped inside. As I took pride in Oro’s battle scar, the bull bar was left untouched.
Her transfer box died on me during the special stage at the LROM Kuala Kubu Baru Merdeka meet in 2004. I had her limped back to Kuala Lumpur where she had been garaged since.
Last week, to prepare for the coming LROM 10th anniversary event at Cameron Highlands, I engaged Ismail the LR mechanic at Jalan Unversiti to fix Oro. I decided to repair the bull bar to rid that irritating rattle once and for all.
Guess what I found inside the damaged bar?
Diamonds! A handful of diamonds!
Close examination show that the small rough stones are partially rounded, which point to alluvial in origin (i.e. recovered from river beds).
A quick check at the geological archives on North Borneo (as Sabah was called in the colonial days) shows that government geologists did find diamonds in the Kinabatangan and Kuamut rivers. In a letter dated 1886 the British Museum had confirmed a sample sent by the District Officer of Kuamut as “true blue ground” (a form of weathered kimberlite which is the source of alluvial diamonds in South Africa).
But how could so many small diamonds get themselves lodged in the damaged bull bar of Oro?
I can only present two possibilities:
1. That the competition crew who drove Oro found a diamond bearing spot on a river bar, secretly panned the diamonds, and hid them in the bull bar tubes hoping to recover them upon their return to the city, but somehow was unable to do so before Oro was taken off them.
2. Oro had crashed in one of the stony river crossings, had her bull bar damaged and trapped between river boulders. The swift current swept river pebbles into the fractured bull bar. The crew, to save time, just welded back the bars upon recovery without removing the trapped pebbles.
Whichever the scenario, the 1993 Camel Trophy expedition must have crossed a very rich diamond bearing river in Sabah!
I can never imagine that buying a used, battled down Land Rover Discovery could lead to the discovery of diamonds!
Discovery, what a gem of a name!