If legendary rally driver Sarel van der Merwe says it will be rough, you better believe it.

Zeerust - It's arguably South Africa's toughest non-professional off-road challenge, and certainly one of the hardest on the vehicles involved, so it says a lot for Volkswagen's confidence in the Amarok that it has come back for a fifth consecutive year with the loan of 23 double cabs for the 2014 Spirit of Africa Trophy - and R100 000 prize money for the top three finishers.

Convenor Sarel 'Supervan' van der Merwe - a multiple champion both on tar and dirt - is not one to mince words.

"We try to make this the ultimate test of 4x4 skills,” he said.

“The Spirit of Africa pits drivers against each other in the toughest off-road African conditions.”

"For 2014 we've moved from Kondowe in Limpopo, where we had two very successful years, to Zeerust in the North West, and we've made the format more technical. It'll feel like a whole new challenge, even for the guys who've competed before."

Previous venues have included the Kalahari desert near Upington in the Northern Cape (four times), Kosi Bay in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park in KwaZulu-Natal (three times) and Kondowe Nature Reserve in Limpopo (twice).


The elimination rounds of the 10th Spirit of Africa competition will start on 24 April and end on 9 June, with close to 500 teams competing for just 20 slots in the finals.

Each elimination round will run over three days with 20 teams tackling different challenges - including speed tests, reverse tests and technical driving tests.