Questions about transport, food or fuel before signing up for the Real Way to Dakar rally?
We have gathered all the ‘nice to know’ information and collected all the questions that most frequently hits our mailbox and facebook page into a FAQ. This will hopefully help you with all the questions and considerations you have before joining us on the Real Way to Dakar.
GENERALLY ABOUT THE RALLY
Q: What are the different options to participate and which one should I choose?
A: The Real Way to Dakar by Intercontinental Rally offers two categories for participants: The race category and the adventure category.
The race category is a challenge for all participants, even the more experienced rally veterans and off-road drivers. Each day will have 1 or 2 off road special sections with timekeeping and with time limits. You will race the entire route. You will have to conform to all the rules of the race and may be subjected to time penalties which will influence your overall ranking. You can participate in the race category with a variety of vehicles. This is the option for everyone who wants the full rally experience.
The adventure category is an opportunity to participate in the rally in a more relaxed format. You will take part in all aspects of the rally, but you will not be keeping time limits. Furthermore you are free to skip sections of the race route or maybe even the entire race for a day to just enjoy time in the camp. The participants in the adventure category will get a dedicated route for every day, a dedicated go-to-person and a special briefing every night. You will also get help and advice on navigation. This is the option for everyone who wants the adventure of the rally without the race-element. It is also a great opportunity to test yourself and your vehicle before entering the race.
The lite category is your opportunity to race – but do only a part of the journey. It takes two weeks to race from the Northern Morocco to Dakar in Senegal and for some the time is limited. In the lite category you can choose to race from Northern Morocco and finish in Dahkla, Morocco after completing the special stages in Morocco and before entering into Mauritania. Or you can join the race in Dahkla, Morocco and do the sand and desert stages in Mauretania to finish at the iconic beaches at Lac Rose, Dakar. Both sections can be done in a week.
You can do the lite categories in both categories – race and adventure.
Q: The rally starts in Paris – do I have to go, or can I start in Morocco?
A: The Real Way to Dakar by Intercontinental Rally starts in Paris to pay tribute to the original idea of the long-distance rally tradition. However, there will be no racing, timekeeping or and the time spend from Paris, France to the technical registration and race start in Morocco will have no effect on the final ranking.
Before the start in Paris, participants will be given their vehicle decal with the race number so this will be on the vehicle as you depart from Paris. But please note, that this is not the technical and document inspection. These will take place in Morocco and you are required to pass them to participate in the rally.
After the ceremony and photo session in Paris you are on your own until we meet at the ferry terminal in Almeria, Spain or in the camp in Mahirija, Morocco.
Please note that you may need an environment certificate and sticker for your vehicle to enter Paris depending on your vehicle. You can check it here: https://www.certificat-air.gouv.fr
Q: What kind of insurance do I need and what will the organisers organise for participants?
A: Every participant is responsible for his or her own insurance including vehicle, travel and medical insurance for all needs during the rally.
Most European insurance companies include Morocco on the list of countries where your policy will keep you covered. This includes the vehicle insurance. You must bring your “green card” to prove that you are covered in case you get into a mishap in Morocco.
At the borders to Mauretania and Senegal we will organise vehicle insurances covering your responsibility in an accident as required by local laws. This does however, not include damage on you or your vehicle. We will organize insurance for you before we arrive at the borders. To cover these insurances we will collect the fee as part of the registration and technical inspections. The insurances will be valid for around 30 days. This means that in most cases it will also be valid as you make your departure from Senegal and through Mauretania.
Q: What type of navigation tools and maps do I need for navigation?
A: The rally route is based on a list of gps-points that are supplied every night at the briefing. You must bring an usb-stick to get the list of waypoints as well as the route for each day. The file is a .gpx file which is a Garmin format, readable in most standard gps-devices. We recommend you to bring an extra usb-stick for back-up if you lose the first one. Otherwise you may be able to borrow from fellow riders.
You must be able to transfer the file from the usb-stick to your device. If it is a Garmin device this can be done in the free software tool called Garmin Basecamp available for both PC and MAC.
In your vehicle/MC you must bring one (or more) gps-device(s) loaded with the route. You may also find it helpful to bring some electronic maps loaded on to your device. Note that not all devices will allow you to load your own maps, but will only work with the preloaded maps. These may not cover the parts of Africa we will be travelling in.
Some of the most used maps include the OpenStreetMaps maps for Morocco, Mauretania and Senegal. And the Garmin 276Cx is a classic among participants although a number of different devices will do the job.
Finally, a paper map and a compass may be nice to have as back-up.
Q: WHAT KIND OF VEHICLES WILL GET ME THROUGH THE RALLY - CAN I BRING A TOURING MOTORBIKE?
A: You can bring any road legal vehicle – but the challenge of getting it through the desert will be immense if you bring a vehicle that is not up to the job. Getting to Dakar requires a good team or driver, navigation skills, driving skills, technical skills, teamwork, stamina and endurance – as well as a good deal of hard work and pure will. IN ANY VEHICLE. Choosing the right vehicle is about preferences and making life easier for yourself.
If you drive a car, you will be happy in proper 4×4 with good ground clearance, diff locks and proper off road tires that can be driven even when deflated to get traction in the sand. A roll cage is good for safety.
If you drive a motorbike you’ll find that many participants drive smaller off road/rally bikes with smaller engines – 500-700 ccm as they will not dig in to suddenly when you hit that deep Mauretanian sand. Bringing a 1000-1200 ccm engine will be a delight when riding gravel tracks and lighter sand tracks as well as the longer road stretches from Paris to Morocco – but in the big sand dunes you will be stuck.
Other categories will face the same type of challenges. To get the most of the rally you should bring a vehicle that is suited to get you to Dakar. Any way you do it, we will do our best to make it a great adventure for you. And if you bring your favorite vehicle and find it is not the best decisions that you made in life – you can join the adventure category and we will guide you to avoid the kind of terrains that may not be for you.
before the rally
Q: What sort of service and support can I get for myself and my vehicle?
A: As part of your registration you have breakfast and dinner in camp, while lunch will be your own business.
For techical service you can choose between 3 options:
1) Be on your own
If you are on your own, you bring your own tools and spares to work on your vehicle and you’ll need to bring your own tent and other equipment with you. You will be able to go to local garages in the towns on the route but inside the camp you are on your own and will not be able to get any service from the service teams or the organizers.
2) Bring your own service team
If you bring your own service team, you need to register them. They will then be allowed to be in the camp with you and supply service for you and your vehicle. The sky is the limit in terms of what kind stuff you can bring and what kind of service you can demand as it is your crew.
3) Buy service from the one of the registered service teams
If you buy service from one of the registered service teams, they will bring along your stuff and tent and prepare camp for you. They will transport your spareparts, tools and they will help you take care of your vehicle. Services offerings differ between teams. Once the rally is on it is not possible to buy services from other serviceteams, so it is important to make arrangements with a service team before you go and to let us know when you register for the rally. Go here to see a list of serviceteams and what they offer.
Q: What are the technical and document inspections and what will you inspect before start?
A: The purpose of the technical inspections is to make sure that all vehicles are safe, legal, carry the needed equipment for the rally and meet the requirements to participate as explained in the rules. As a participant you should read the rules and familiarize yourself with them, including the technical requirements. If your vehicle does not meet the requirements of the rules at the technical inspections, you will not be allowed to participate in the rally.
Together with the technical inspections we will also check to make sure that all documents for the rally are ready. This includes the registration certificate for your vehicle, insurances, driver’s license, passport, visas etc. As these requirements may vary from nationality to nationality and from one year to the next you will receive a detailed list of documents well before the start of the rally. We will do our best to guide you, but it is your personal responsibility to make sure to bring the travel documents needed for yourself and your vehicle to allow for smooth border crossings.
Q: What kind of visas and medical documentation do I need and where do I get it?
A: If you are holding a European passport you don’t need a visa for Morocco, and you will be able to obtain a visa for Mauretania at the border. As part of the registration process for the rally you will be asked for details about the passport you intend to use in the rally. We will use this information to obtain a group visa for Senegal.
Other nationalities need to pay attention to the visa requirements of their individual country and organise as appropriate. This can be done by visiting the websites of your Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the embassies of Morocco, Mauretania or Senegal in your country.
Senegal may require that you have inoculations/vaccinations against yellow fever and that you are able to document that by showing the yellow inoculations card at the immigration office. For that reason it will be part of the papers check at the inspections. However, you will have the full responsibility to bring and show appropriate documentations at all border crossings.
Q: Is it safe to travel in Morocco, Mauretania and Senegal?
A: Everybody is responsible for his or her own safety while participating in the rally. And appropriate steps should be taken by everyone considering the part of the world we are travelling in.
We will do whatever we can to ensure a safe environment during the rally and in camp. We do this in cooperation with national and local authorities in each camp and along the route.
Every participant is encouraged to check out the recommendations for safe travel put forward by the ministries of foreign affairs in most European countries and to assess the situation for themselves.
Q: Where do I get a ferry from Europe to Morocco?
A: There are a number of options and you are free to choose the one that suits your travel plans. Some are shorter crossings but will require you to drive longer distances in Europe or Africa – depending on where you are located.
The organisation offers to organize tickets for the ferry from Almeria, Spain to Nador, Morocco and charge you the amount of the ticket. Information on this will vary from year to year and will be sent out to participants in due time.
Q: How do I get my MC/Car to Almeria and to Marocco?
A: Depending on where in Europe you are based there may be several options for transportation on a trailer for both cars and MC’s. Let us know if you need to make contact with someone who can transport your car or MC from Europe to Almeria. Most organisers will prefer to deliver the car to you in Almeria, Spain but you may have the option of a delivery in the first camp in Morocco.
Q: I need to get my MC/Car back to Europe from Dakar?
A: You have a few options:
1) You can drive it back through Senegal, Mauritania and Morocco to Europe. In that case you will need another visa for Mauritania as you are only granted a single-entry visa when we enter.
2) For cars and MC’s, the next option is to ship it to a European harbour like Rotterdam or Hamburg. If you don’t have any contacts, we can help you make contact with a shipping agent who can help you with all details.
3) If you want to put your MC on a trailer to Europe, you may be able to get a ride for it with one of the service cars. You can visit the website and ask around to explore your options.
4) If you plan to ship your vehicle out of Dakar you must be sure to inform the custom officers about this when entering into Senegal. This will give you the appropriate papers for the procedure. Be sure to ask the organisation at the border to get you in contact with our local support – he will then help you with the paperwork.
During the rally
Q: How do I get food while in the rally?
A: Breakfast and dinner in camp is included in your registration and the food service runs for the duration of the race. First meal is dinner on the day of technical inspections. The last meal is the breakfast before the start of the last real stage that ends at Lac Rose, Dakar.
You will be able to buy food in the camp where we stay for technical inspections as well as in the camp where the rally ends in Lac Rose, Dakar.
If you participate in a car it is possible to carry provisions for the day and most days will bring you to a town where food can be bought. However, the standards will vary from day to day and most days it is not possible to shop for food at European standards. And you may want to focus on the rally – not spending time to go shopping at local markets.
Breakfast is served early and in time for you to be able to make your start every day. Dinner is served in time for you to be able to make it to the evening briefing. The exact times will vary each day and will be made public the night before as part of the daily briefing for the following day.
Complimentary coffee and tea for all participants will be available in the camp every day.
Q: Can I get fuel in Africa?
A: Every day during the rally we will let you know where to get fuel. Both in terms of gasoline/benzin and diesel/gasoil by supplying waypoints to gas stations near camps and along the route. This is a part of our daily briefing. Remember that cars must carry enough fuel for 600 km and MCs/ATV/quads for 250 km.
Some days MC’s/ATVs/Quads will need to refuel during the day. When this is needed, we will inform you at the evening briefing the day before. You will then have the opportunity to bring your own full jerry cans to us and we will bring it to the refuelling point.
As we are travelling in Africa supply may not be up to standards and fuel may be sold out or you may not get the quality you are used to. It can be beneficiary to bring an external fuel filter.
Q: What do I do with my garbage that may include engine oils, worn-out tires and other used spare parts?
A: In each camp there will be a designated area for normal camp garbage and other leftovers from working on vehicles. Please be aware, that leaving worn out tires, other spare parts or garbage in the tracks will not be tolerated and may be subject to a time penalty.
Q: Will I be able to get a shower everyday – and what about the toilet facilities?
A: As we are travelling in some of the most remote areas in north-western Africa you are also up for an adventure when it comes to sanitary facilities.
Most camps will give you the opportunity to get a shower and will have toilet facilities to meet the standard needs. But some camps will be real adventure bivouacs directly under the stars and between the dunes – without any running water. In these cases we will, together with our local support, organize small tents for privacy and your very own hole in the ground.
Q: Will it be possible to charge my phone or other equipment in the camps at night?
A: Most service teams and participants in cars will charge in their cars or bring a generator to supply power – ask your service team about the options.
Around the camp HQ and close to the coffee there will be a charging box where you can charge you phone while you share a coffee and the adventures of the day with fellow drivers. This charging facility is free for everyone but leaving your device unattended is at your own risk. Access to the charging box is on a first come first serve basis and you are allowed to charge one device at the time if charging slots are limited at peak hour.
Q: Do I need cash and where do I find an ATM?
A: In Morocco some gas stations in major towns will accept credit cards, but it is advised to carry cash in the event they don’t. In smaller towns cash is the only way to pay. In Mauritania most gas stations will only accept cash. In Senegal most gas stations will accept credit cards as well as Euros.
In both Morocco and Mauritania there will be a general acceptance of Euros at gas stations even in the most remote areas of the country. But the exchange rate may be on the low side. Many participants choose this option to avoid the hassle of changing back and forth. But if you want to buy food or souvenirs in local shops the local currency may be the only option.
In Morocco there will be ATMs in larger towns, and you may also be able to change in the hotel receptions of some hotels along the route.
If you want to exchange Euro for local currency in Mauritania, ask our Mauritanian coordinator for advice on this at the first camp or the evening before we make the border crossing from Morocco.
Q: Is it possible to upgrade the accommodation from campsite to a room in hotel or hostel?
A: The rally camp will be located at campsites or “under the stars between the sand dunes” and you will have to bring your own tent. In some of the camps there are a limited number of rooms or cabins for rent on a first come first served basis. You will have to make arrangements and pay for these yourself.
Some of the camps are located in, or close to, smaller towns with plenty of options to upgrade your accommodation to cabins, hotels etc. You will have to make arrangements for this yourself. If you are buying service from one of the support teams you may want to check with them if they have made plans for your team.
Q: When does the rally finish – and more important: will there be a party?
A: We will arrive in the camp at Lac Rose, Dakar Friday night, February 4. after the last special stage from St. Louis. The rally finishes the next day, February 5. with a celebratory short stage on the beaches of Dakar by the legendary Lac Rose around noon.
Friends and family may be invited to see the last miles of your adventure and the crossing of the finish line.
After the stage you will have an opportunity to get yourself and your vehicle organized for departure before the prize ceremony and party that takes place in the camp Saturday night February 5. and concludes the adventure of The Real Way to Dakar by Intercontinental Rally.
It is possible to buy tickets for friends and family to join the dinner, attend the ceremony and party with you.
As a participant you will have the opportunity to stay in camp during the night. Most people choose to leave the next morning – although you may not want to plan to leave too early…
If you want to stay in camp in the after noon on Sunday, February 6. you will need to arrange this directly with the reception at the camp.
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