There are usually about five hundred participants in Paris-Dakar Rally. They leave Paris in the last of December, have a comfortable, fast drive to Mediterranean, and then embark in a French port Barcelona for the crossing to Algiers.
The four days in Africa, in Algeria, are not . The route from Algiers to Ghardaia (656 km) well-surfaced and wide in some places. In January, the rally takes place, there is often some in the mountain passes, but not enough to experienced drivers. From Ghardaia to the oasis town Tamanrasset, 1361 km further south, the road is recognisably a road, but in many places the sand covers the surface. Teams of men work throughout the year to clear the sand away, the Sahara quickly covers their work.
Thirty south of Tamanrasset the surfaced road ends, and there on to Agadéz in Niger, 704 km the south, there are beacon markers every ten . Drivers can use these to signal for help they are in trouble. Participants usually find that can still go quite fast, however, if they safely and confidently. They know conditions get worse . One of the rally stages takes place in Ténéré, a vast, empty area of rocky desert size of Spain. As the tracks are not marked and the landscape is very monotonous, it easy to get lost.
The rally passes some very poor countries. The Sahara desert is fast every year and some regions suffer from drought. In general, the native people welcome the , because it brings business once a year. Even proud Tuareg, the nomadic tribes of the Sahara, friendly towards it as it passes.
About 12,000 km and three weeks after leaving Algiers, the reaches Dakar. Usually, only about a quarter of participants reach the finish, after driving fast in of the most difficult conditions in the world. all agree that it is a wonderful experience.