Amazon 1989

The tenth anniversary of an event that had by now more than earned its enviable international reputation had to be celebrated accordingly. So, in true Camel Trophy style it returned to its "roots" in 1989, once more making its way into the deep forest and unbelievable trails that are the Amazon jungle. The difference this time was that the timing was deliberately chosen to coincide with the height of the rainy season.

Locals said the selected route from Alta Floresta to Manaus could not be done, not in the wet season (they even ran a "book" giving frightening odds against the event's success). Not by anything that didn’t produce in excess of 500 horse power. Not by anything without balloon wheels 8 feet in diameter or metre-wide tracks. What they didn’t know about was the camaraderie, team spirit and resolve of a Camel Trophy convoy!

This, the tenth event in the series, followed the infamous BR 163 "highway" from Alta Floresta to its junction with Transamazonica Highway. Then after 50 kilometres or so heading east on the Big “T”, swung north on the penultimate section of the BR 163 to Santarem. From there by barge to Itaparanga on the northern bank of the Amazon, before finishing in Manaus.

This event has entered the annals of Camel Trophy history as the toughest ever. The dusty tracks of the Transamazonica Highway do not present too many difficulties during the dry season when they are frequented by giant Brazilian trucks, but in the rainy season conditions are very different. The soft powdery dust takes on the appearance and consistency of potters clay, Duropox, to the locals. It is impossible to stand up on, like a lopsided skating rink to drive on, and bottomless! However the giant trucks are still there – stranded and wallowing, mid-road, for up to five months until the next dry season enables them to break free.

Day and night, the teams from fourteen different countries tirelessly battled with the nightmarish muddy road. So nightmarish, in fact, that for several days the convoy barely managed to proceed more than two or three kilometres. One day in particular achieved the unbelievable distance of 800 metres in a full 24-hour period and even then only with the help of a huge winch-adorned tractor. The feelings of the teams, when they finally glimpsed the Amazon River near the end of their journey is something not easily forgotten.

At the end of this memorable adventure, often regarded by enthusiasts as one of the "best" ever, the Belgian team of Frank de Witte and Peter Denys were awarded the Team Spirit Award, while the United Kingdom, represented by brothers Bob and Joe Ives, won the Camel Trophy.

“To this day, here we are nearly 30 years later, feeling that we are winners of the Camel Trophy. We feel very proud.”

Joe Ives, Team UK 1989 speaking to Andrew Wade, The Engineer, 10th May 2018

The first and only British victory in the so-called "Olympics of 4x4" made headline news around the world and earned the Ives brothers the prestigious Segrave Trophy from the Royal Automobile Club, “for victory in the off-road marathon the Camel Trophy, with its 1,062-mile route through the Brazilian rainforest from Alta Floresta to Manaus”.


  • Team Vehicles: Land Rover One Ten
  • Support Vehicles: Land Rover One Ten
  • Distance: 1,410 km by road and 500 km by barge
  • Number of Teams: 14

Participating Countries

  • Argentina - Osvaldo Chapitel & Daniel Gonzales Dellacha
  • Belgium - Peter Denys & Frank Dewitte (Team Spirit Award)
  • Brazil - Ricardo Simonson & Alfonso Celso-Baldrati
  • Canary Islands - Jesus Lesmes & Federico Quintilla
  • France - Bernard Duc & Yvan Dorier
  • West Germany - Kornel Gartner & Alexander Peterson
  • Holland - Raoul Jacobs & Gerard Blankestijn
  • Italy - Paolo Siccardi & Marco Rossignoli
  • Japan - Yukiyasu Uda & Niroyuki Kiku Chi
  • Spain - Bruno Montalvo & Fernando Murube
  • Switzerland - Dieter Meier & Georges Lacava
  • Turkey - Yusuf Avimelek & Cem Nomer
  • United Kingdom - Bob Ives & Joe Ives (Camel Trophy)
  • Yugoslavia - Franjo Bozic & Robert Kaska