For various political and security reasons the event , now simply called the "Dakar Rally" or "Dakar " , was moved to South America in 2009.
Peru, Chile, Argentina and Bolivia have all hosted stages. However, in 2019 the entire event was held in Peru.
The rally started and ended in Lima . Its southerly route kept mainly parallel to the Pacific Coast taking in towns and regions such as Pisco, Ica, San Juan de Marcona, Arequipa, Tacna and Ilo. 70% of this circuit was in remote Dunes
The category of vehicles that can enter has also changed over the years and now includes several varieties of Cars, Buggies,Motorcycles, Quad bikes , and trucks.
Both well funded professional teams and self supporting , sometimes one man band , teams can enter and compete side by side .
We purposefully put ourselves in the region at the time of the event so that we could try and get a glimpse of this major automotive event.
Now you would think that planning the best place to set up camp would have been easy. This however, was not the case .
It soon became apparent that the Dakar organisation had little interest in spectators. The locations of the spectators areas were kept secret until 3 day before it was due to pass through that stage .
This left us having to make our best guess as to the best location, knowing that if we got it wrong we could miss the whole event.
We identified the town of San Juan de Marcona as place with a good chance.
The race coming south finished at the town then left again the next morning. On its return north it again entered the town then did a days circuit around the town and left towards Pisco. This meant that on no fewer than 6 occasions we might be able to see it in that region.
Just before stage 3 a spectators area was identified out in the desert by a small canyon about 50 km south of the town. Access was only available for 4x4 vehicles.
Together with our good friends Ellen and Perry, Sippie and Claas and Peter and Heike we set of the night before and made camp.
The next morning Pat was out at 5.30 am putting out our chairs on the edge of the canyon so that we could get the best view.
We took up our positions and waited for the first vehicles that were due to enter the canyon at 7 am.
We waited and waited, then we waited a bit longer. We waited some more and eventually at about 10.30am we heard the sound of the helicopter heading our way.
The action was full on for the rest of the day and we had grand seats.
Stand by for loads of race photos. If you have already started to glaze over we understand but make no apologies
|Nice truck in the background|
Despite the unbelievable dust and airborne sand, that we are still finding, Pat became quite engrossed in the runners and riders. Every night she was checking the results and making predictions as to the final outcome.
A British rider for the KTM team called Sam Sunderland became a particular target for her online stalking. I think she now probably knows more about him that his own mother.
He can be seen in the photos above on the Orange and Blue KTM motorcycle Number 14.
He did very well coming in overall in third place behind his two KTM team mates . The second place went to the Austrian Matthias Walkner who was just behind the Australian Toby Price who rode the whole race with a broken wrist.
The trucks were amazing, pure power, noise and lots of dust. The Blue Kamaz team dominated the event finishing in first and second followed by the Dutch Iveco driver Gerard de Rooy .
After all this excitement we headed for the coast near the town of Paracas to chill out at the beach for a few days.
A small area right on the water popular with kite surfers front became our home along with some old and new friends.
We also shared the beach with about 1 million birds who chose 5 am to meet up for a chat.
The final leg of this part of our journey finds us in the Peruvian capital of Lima in the very nice Miraflores region.
Here we met up for dinner with some long standing Internet buddies Joe and Josee Parsons.
Wandering through the central park late at night can be very risky. Large gangs of middle aged people hanging about enjoying themselves . Luckily for them we had the wrong shoes on .