16th of Jan, 2014. 

Antofagasta. 

Auto pilot on, tent folded, bags shoved in back of 4x4, sit in seat. 

Even with my leg shoved between roll cage bars, a lack of space and uncomfortable seat, my exhaustion is too much and I wake up 2 hours later with aching neck, back and legs, also being laughed at from the two drivers and Filipe who said I looked like a bobbing head doll you get in some cars, slouched in my confined area and oblivious to the world even as we drive off road. 

Our destination is the closest so far to our bivouac so far this trip. It's not long before the bikes come through and for once we have nice light at about 8am. 

There is a small bump which the riders jump and makes some nice images.  It's not the most scenic place we have been so I focus more on tight action and a bit wider stuff with loads of dust. 

Quads and bikes have diminished in numbers since the first few days and I am curious to know how many started this challenge and how many will finish! 

Cars then trucks come through, the light is a bit harsh but for the action I am doing its fine.  I know I have mentioned the sleep and dust thing maybe too many times, but this is what I am experiencing, and the dust here is super fine and all encompassing.  (See image of me as a car drove past.)

Every vehicle, especially the trucks throw up a large cloud which you can not escape. 

3 hours in and we have a good selection of vehicles through and decided that the 4 hour journey back is best started now. 

Arriving at El Salvador, its bright daylight for the first time and I get stuck into my edit.  Chris, the Press Officer who works for the company who for the owners of Dakar, ASO, brings around some Pastis, an anise-flavored liqueur special from Marseille, in a massive bottle and offers the photographers and writers some, with of a twist of my arm, I accept! 

It’s the first non water or red bull I have drank in almost two weeks and reminds me of ouzo and I like it. 

Please don’t tell the boss I drank on the job (Editor: we won't). 

He also tells me and Filipe we will be in the Press helicopter the following day. 

This is better than the military chopper as it’s just for pictures and we get to choose locations and shoot from the air.  Edit well under way, the light outside starts to fade.  I have been meaning to do a 360 picture (an image the viewer can move around the screen on and see everywhere, front, back, sides, up and down) of some sections of the bivouac and leave my days edit while the light is still decent, I head out with 14mm and tripod in hand. 

It's not the ideal kit for this kind of shot but I know is should work.  Here is a link to one of the places I stopped to show what a common sight is in the bivouac is like.

360 pictures done, back to edit and other tasks, you know the routine by now if you have read previous days.  1am, alarm for 6am. 

Tomorrow sounds exciting, hanging out a flying tin can with a safety harness on taking photos of cars, trucks and motorbikes in the desert…..have I mentioned I love this job! Sleep is instantaneous as my head hits the rolled up t-shirts I call a pillow.

If you have any questions about today or any of the previous days you have read, please feel free to ask away on @AllSportSnapper on twitter.

 

View Dean's coverage of the Dakar Rally 2014 on Getty Images

  • ANTOFAGASTA, CHILE - JANUARY 16: (#50) Laia Sanz of Spain for Honda Laia Sanz competes in stage 11 on the way to El Salvador during Day 12 of the 2014 Dakar Rally on January 16, 2014 in Antofagasta, Chile. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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  • ANTOFAGASTA, CHILE - JANUARY 16: (#72) Gabor Saghmeister of Serbia for KTM Saghmeister Team competes in stage 11 on the way to El Salvador during Day 12 of the 2014 Dakar Rally on January 16, 2014 in Antofagasta, Chile. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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  • ANTOFAGASTA, CHILE - JANUARY 16: (#308) Lucio Alvarez and Bernardo Graue of Argentina for Ford Racing compete in stage 11 on the way to El Salvador during Day 12 of the 2014 Dakar Rally on January 16, 2014 in Antofagasta, Chile. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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  • ANTOFAGASTA, CHILE - JANUARY 16: (#504) Ales Loprais, Serge Bruynkens and Radim Pustejovsky from Czech Republic for Tatra Instaforex Loprais Team compete in stage 11 on the way to El Salvador during Day 12 of the 2014 Dakar Rally on January 16, 2014 in Antofagasta, Chile. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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  • Dust in the camera bag
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  • Dust on the camera
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  • Dust on the camera
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  • Dust storm
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  • Shooting in the dust
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  • Dean Mouhtaropoulos is a Sports Photographer for Getty Images. Follow him on Twitter at @AllSportSnapper
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See more images

Editors Note: The 2014 Dakar Rally will be the 35th running of the event and the sixth successive year that the event is held in South America. The event starts in Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina on January 5 and finishes in Valparaíso, Chile on January 18 after thirteen stages of competition. To find out more visit the official Dakar Rally 2014 website.

Dean Mouhtaropoulos is a Sports Photographer for Getty Images. Follow him on Twitter at @AllSportSnapper

About Deal Mouhtaropoulos
Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Mouhtaropoulos' love for photography began when his godfather bought him a camera for his 12th birthday.

"My journey to become a photographer had started and led me to the Big Smoke as I always knew London would provide a good platform to start my career in the photography business.
Working full time in various non-photo related roles and shooting for magazines and newspapers on weekends, it was then that I discovered Getty Images. When visiting the Getty Gallery, which was in Chelsea at the time, and looking at all those amazing pictures I had an epiphany and knew this was the company I wanted to work for.

I started hounding Getty’s Human Resources department to give me a role, any role, in the company. A few months and hundreds of phone calls later a role came up doing coffees, spreadsheets and filing.
Thanks to my boss, who saw some potential in me, I became a Field Editor for Getty which is like the modern version of working in the Dark Room. I got to work with the best photographers around the world at events like the MTV Awards, Cannes Film Festival, both Football and Rugby World Cups, the Olympics, Champions League football, World Championships in Swimming, Diving, Hockey, Athletics and so on.

This has taught me more than I could ever imagine and after 7 years of absorbing information and applying it to my own photography, I earned the opportunity to become a staff photographer for Getty.
10 years in London came to an end at the start of 2012 and I am now based in the Netherlands covering sports and news in the Benelux, France and Germany. My knowledge of photography has progressed but my passion is as strong as it was when I picked up my first roll of Fuji film as a 12 year old."

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