PROUDLY SA: The South African-built Toyota Gazoo Racing Hilux of driver Giniel de Villiers at the start of Dakar 2017 in Asuncion, Paraguay. Image: Sean Parker
Cape Town - The 2017 Dakar Rally and Le Mans 24 hour motorsport events are arguably the toughest races in the world.
I've just come back from a taste of what it's like to attend the showpiece Dakar rally. The 39th edition started in Paraguay and then headed to Argentina before making their way into the sand dunes of Bolivia.
1. It's a massive spectacle.
The 2017 edition featured 491 competitors: 146 bikes, 37 quads, 83 cars (and UTVS) and 50 trucks.
The field will have covered 9000km (actually slightly less due to two cancelled stages), three countries (Paraguay, Argentina and Bolivia) and three capital cities.
Over 1400 accredited journalists cover the rally. The sheer scale of the event can be daunting, not to mention the amount of travelling you'll have to do.
2. You get to see the world's best drivers.
The first stage in Asuncion was the perfect opportunity to catch a glimpse of the world's best motor sportsman.
While the drivers were preparing to race, I snapped a few photographs:
3. There's a lot of travelling through amazing landscapes
In just six days. I took 12 flights, traveled hundreds of kilometres in buses and bakkies to watch the motorbikes, quads, cars and trucks battle the terrain.
If your're planning on following the Dakar in the future, be prepared to camp and leave in the wee hours of the morning to make sure you're in the best spots to see the field pass by.
The landscape and weather changes everyday.
From the humidity and tropical climate of Asuncion to the lofty area of San Salvador De JuyJuy which is 4100m above sea level.
The temperature in San Salvador dropped to under 8o.
Have a look at photographs of Stage 4 in Juyjuy:
*Sean Parker attended the 2017 Dakar Rally in Paraguay and Argentina.