Rhino Charge

Rhino Charge 2025 - 31st May 2025

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Camping Do’s & Don’ts

This year we celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Rhino Charge!
You’ve all come here for a fun weekend so we have tried to keep all the rules to the minimum. However, this is a beautiful Rhino Charge venue on private land and our own personal ideas of fun must not, in any circumstance, interfere with that beauty. If you are in any doubt about what is or what is not acceptable, please ask one of the officials. In order to guide you on what is expected throughout this weekend, please read through:

CAMPING

This is to be done in designated areas only. Kindly comply with the instructions given to you by the officials and respective camp managers.

All visitors are expected to be self-sufficient in food and camping equipment or to have made prior arrangements with a camp operator. Bottled drinking water will be available from Highland Mineral Water near HQ. Ice will be available from The Iceman near HQ. Some toilets are provided at certain areas. Please use them and leave them in a clean state.

Please ensure you check in at the relevant information tent before entering the camp!

LITTER

Litter is unsightly and dangerous to both livestock and wild animals. Please observe the following rules:

  • Burn all flammable litter on your camp fire.
  • Use the ORANGE bags provided by Highlands Mineral Water for all plastic bottles.
  • Use the GREEN bags provided by BINS for other rubbish such as tins, bottle tops, foil etc. PLEASE take these bags to the collection site which will be sign posted. DO NOT LEAVE THEM IN YOUR CAMP
  • Do not BURY litter.
  • Take particular care not to leave any sharp objects on the ground.
  • Any litter not disposed of through the above methods should be taken home with you.
  • Please leave your campsite as you found it. Failure to do so will lead to hefty fines and possible exclusion from future events. No exceptions.

FIRE

Fires may be lit only in the camping area, with the following strict conditions:

  • Clear a space around your camp fire, removing all potentially flammable grass and foliage.
  • Do not leave your fire unattended, even for a short time. Cover fire with soil or sand when leaving.
  • DO NOT THROW CIGARETTES OUT OF YOUR CAR WINDOW.
  • STRONGLY RECOMMENDED: Bring at least 2 fire extinguishers to your campsite, and ensure that these are put in strategic areas (i.e. camp kitchen).

NOISE

The Rhino Charge takes this form of pollution as seriously as any other. We would be grateful if you could maintain sociable quiet behaviour and adhere to the following rules:

  1. Loud music is strongly discouraged. If music is played, keep the volume turned low so as not to disturb neighbouring camps. Only authorised entertainment systems (DJ’s setups) will be tolerated.
  2. Power generators are discouraged. If they must be used then they should be placed well away from other camps and, ideally, placed in a pit to muffle their noise.
  3. No noise disturbance after or before 06:30am.

  4. DRIVING

    Only competitors and officials are permitted to drive off-road and only during the event. For all other vehicles the following stipulations apply:

    • The maximum speed limit on the Rhino Charge venue is 40kph. Anyone found speeding or driving recklessly in the opinion of the officials will be asked to leave the venue. Competitors speeding will be penalised following the competition rules and regulations. Speeding is not only dangerous for you, your passengers and other cars on the road, but it also violates the rules of community conservancies in which the Rhino Charge usually takes place. For your own safety, please obey this rule strictly.
    • Joy-riding is forbidden in all areas.
    • Night driving is not permitted.
    • Please bring your own fuel (petrol / diesel etc.) – NONE IS AVAILABLE AT THE VENUE. The last available fuel station will be marked in the route notes.

    CARE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT COMES FIRST IN ALL INSTANCES

    Important Notices:

    • All camping, catering and merchandising provided for your convenience at the event are being totally organised and run by individuals or companies on their own behalf. They are totally independent from Rhino Ark and Rhino Ark cannot be held responsible for any services or products.
    • Only accredited retailers are allowed to sell their products on the venue in their designated areas.
    • Firewood: Self Campers are advised to bring their own firewood and cooking fuel.
    • Washing water can be bought at the venue from a designated spot at Ksh. 1 per litre.

    Vehicle Pass – Landowner Access Fee (LAF)

    The Vehicle Pass, known as the Landowner Access Fee (LAF) was implemented to benefit the local host community of the Rhino Charge and the fee goes directly to the community. The money is then used for community projects, such as the construction of a school classrooms or the installation of a borehole.

    All Vehicles entering the Rhino Charge venue are required to purchase a Vehicle Pass – Landowner Access Fee (LAF) sticker at a rate of:

    • Kshs 10,000 per vehicle (less than 6 seats)
    • Kshs 20,000 per vehicle (between 6 – 12 seats) 
    • Kshs 30,000 per vehicle (13 or more seats) 

    Please note that the Vehicle Pass (LAF) sticker MUST be displayed on the windscreen of any car that enters the Rhino Charge venue. If any vehicle is discovered not displaying a sticker, they will be fined twice the normal LAF. The LAF can be purchased only through the online ticketing system. The voucher which you will receive will allow you to collect your LAF sticker at the entrance to the Rhino Charge venue. Please note that the LAF is not refundable.

How it began

The Rhino Charge was conceived in Nairobi, Kenya when Rhino Ark founder Ken Kuhle asked Rally Enthusiast Rob Coombes whether he would organise an off-road 4×4 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 off-roading 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 the 4th 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 off-road 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.

Founders

Ken Kuhle

The late Ken Kuhle was the founder of Rhino Ark, and a visionary who envisaged a practical solution to the poaching crisis facing the elephant and black rhino populations in the Aberdare Ecosystem. The 1980’s were dark period in Kenya’s conservation history, when wildlife and water catchment forests were under critical threat. At this time the Aberdares were experiencing serious poaching of elephant and black rhino as well as escalating human-wildlife conflict. Particularly affected was the easternmost area of the Aberdare National Park in Nyeri district, an area known as the Salient.

 

Ken was at the forefront of a body of opinion determined to tackle the threats to the Aberdares, and in 1988 he formed the Rhino Ark for this purpose. He came up with a novel idea to build an electric fence along the Salient, which would serve the dual purpose of keeping poachers out while keeping the wildlife in. His background in engineering, coupled with his skills in farming and passion for conservation positioned him well to ensure that the design for the fence would achieve its objectives.

 

After the concept of the fence had taken root, the next challenge he faced was mobilizing funding. In discussions with members of the local rally driving fraternity, a unique idea was mooted: an off-road driving competition. A team comprising rallying experts and enthusiasts came together to develop the concept of the Rhino Charge, an event to raise funds for construction of the fence. At the core of this team were Brian Haworth and the late Rob Combes. Their experience and dedication made it possible for the event concept to become a reality, and in 1989, the first Rhino Charge event was held. Over 20 years later, the fruits of their efforts continue to be seen.

 

For over a decade, until June 2000, Ken continued to steer Rhino Ark from strength to strength, ensuring that the Rhino Charge evolved into a unique, competitive and highly regarded event. Ken passed on in 2005.

 


Rob Combes

The late Rob Combes was a man of many talents and interests as varied as motorsport, music, theatre and environmental conservation.

 

Rob is credited with much of the original conceptualisation of the Rhino Charge as a competitive off-road 4×4 event. His involvement in motorsport, particularly in the local rallying scene was recognised, and he was a past winner of the prestigious Kenyan ‘Motorsportsman of the Year Award’. His solid background in motorsport and his passion for conservation were an invaluable asset to the team that conceived the Rhino Charge concept and steered it to realisation.

 

Rob was the first Clerk of the Course for the Rhino Charge, a role he carried out diligently every year since its inception in 1989 until his tragic death in a motor vehicle accident in 1993.