MERZOUGA > MERZOUGA
Stage 5 - april 21th 2017
Stage 5: 230 km
Stage 5 has everything to become the highlight of the rally, with no less than 4 ranges of dunes to be challenged. It's important to be 'zen' when you start the stage.
The start of the day is with a complete crossing of Erg Chebbi from north to south. It's 27 kms but should be a viable proposition for everybody. Don't take unnecessary risks and look for the best way to cross; that's the message. Sometimes it is best to take the roundabout route for 100 meters instead of crossing a dune straight up and down and wreck your car. Getting stuck takes far more time than a detour.
After the Merzouga dunes you continue on a very nice and brand new route heading to Erg Ouzina. Navigation might be challenging sometimes but the route is wonderful, with sandy oueds and tracks leading you to the Ouzina dunes.
The second range of dunes - Ouzina - is just a small one of some 6 kms of which 4 kms will be easy. Only in the first 2 kms you will find a few whacking big ones that will certainly quicken your heart. Avoid the highest peaks and you will get through without problems.
After Erg Ouzina follows a dozen of fast kilometres and around km 120 you will a quite damaged piste with bumps and holes and a lot of feshfesh. This is a strip of some 6 kms with many crossing and parallel tracks and it will be covered in clouds of dust. This area is called 'road of the trucks' as there always are numbers of local trucks. They are much bigger than your own vehicle and hardly visible in the dust. Whatever you do: do not overtake when you cannot see what's coming. SLOW DOWN to avoid any accidents. It's only 6 kms, there is nothing to gain but much to lose.
After this part you will return to the nice tracks again. The compulsory tank and lunch stop CH-RAV is at km 145.
The third range of dunes begins at km 160. These are gorgeous white dunes, not the easiest but certainly not too difficult, especially after what you already had. Once you have crossed this range you will return to Erg Chebbi, via a chain of nice and fast tracks, small dunes and a sandy oued.
The first dunes of this fourth crossing of the day are the hardest. Shortly after you will follow a track with just a few small dunes to bring you back to the bivouac.
Enjoy the day and good luck!