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The winter is coming and with it also the cold, the rain and the long nights.  For some this could mean a lot of time at home, enjoying the warmth of the fire place, doing something that we can compare to some kind of hibernation.
But for a few lucky ones this time of the year means it's time for the Big Rally Season and the annual migrations towards the south.  We are talking about long and amazing journeys taken by the cross-country rally teams, their assistances and the rest of the people involved in the two big rallies that are about to start in Africa and in South America. The absence of races in their home countries, forced this move of racers long time ago, and is now and essential feature of the racing calendar.

For the long-distance migrants, the journey has already begun. Their first stage was towards France, where they dropped their vehicles for the long sea journey to South America for the 40th Dakar Rally, that will start in Lima on the 6th of January. Like a flock of birds, the vehicles are doing their journey together and will arrive at their destination days ahead of their owners.  There is still a small, but increasing group of local teams that will not need to do this journey.  As for the drivers and their teams, most will do the journey only after new year, in which we can consider the second stage of their annual big event.  Like most in the natural kingdom, they will spend these final days before the outstanding adventure increasing strength and gathering energies to face the challenge and finally they will fly alone or in small groups towards Peru's capital, Lima.

But the pattern of migration is not the same for everybody. There is another migration, with a new name but following an old and legendary route towards Dakar.  With a shorter route to cover, this is more like a medium distance migration.  The participants of the Africa Eco Race and their teams will gather in Monaco on the last day of the year, and from here they will seek for the desert heat and adventure in sands of the Sahara, crossing dunes and mountains until they reach the shores of the Pink Lake near Dakar city in the Senegal. 

It's not fully understood what mechanism triggers the desire for these extreme adventures on racers. We only know that at this time of the year car and truck drivers, along with bike and quad riders gather in hundreds, with an even bigger group of followers to cover huge distances in the most demanding deserts of the world.  

Taking this journeys that stretch to several thousand miles is a dangerous and arduous undertaking. It is an effort that tests both the man’s physical and mental capabilities. The physical stress of the trip, lack of adequate rest along the way, bad weather, and increased exposure to the elements all add to the hazards of the journey.  But not only the human side is tested: the mechanical side is also put to a severe test day after day, where the vehicles have to face some of the most complicated terrains that exist in this blue planet.

These migrations only last for a few weeks, after which, the drivers, their teams, and the race organisers return home. Most come happy with either the success of a victory or with the sentiment of fulfilment of taking part in one of the biggest adventures of our times. But this is not the same for all, some return injured, tired and with low morals, after the desert or the mountains had said "Stop" to their intentions.  Unfortunately, there is even a so much darker side, which we can't hide, where a few enter in these adventures but do not return.

For us back here, lovers of the natural world, this is one of the most fun times of the year. Having two events at the same time is almost like a dream come true. This is double the excitement, even if our work is also doubled. Once again, we will have the chance to enjoy the amazing Sahara dunes and the magnificent Andes at the same time.  Why choose if we can have both?  Our screens will become alive with the amazing images of the Dakar Rally and Africa Eco Race, where many of our friends will share the tracks with many people that share our common passion for rally-raid.

The Big Rally Season is about to start, and we are ready to enjoy it to the most!

The Rally-Raid Network team.