Forced by the threat of terrorism to cancel this year's race, organizers hope to give the Dakar Rally a new beginning by swapping continents and going to South America in 2009.
Race director Etienne Lavigne detailed the route in a telephone interview Monday. He was already in Buenos Aires, scouting out the Argentine capital that will host the start and finish of next year's race.
"It's a very, very big adventure,'' Lavigne said.
This year marked the first time that the 30-year-old rally, one of the biggest competitions in automobile racing, was called off. Next year will mark the first time that it will not race in Africa.
The race will start in Buenos Aires on Jan. 3 and finish in the Argentine capital Jan. 18, organizers said
"Dakar competitors are going to discover new territory, new scenery, but with the same sprit of competition and adventure, with very hard stages,'' Lavigne said.
About 500 competitors signed up for the 2008 edition, which was canceled in January after French government warnings about safety.
Lavigne said the race will return to Africa when it can. The threat of a terrorist attack pushed the element of risk to levels organizers deemed unacceptable this year. Eight of the 15 stages were to have been in Mauritania, where al-Qaida-linked militants killed a family of French tourists on Dec. 24.
"It's just a pause with Africa, because unfortunately the security conditions aren't there,'' Lavigne said.
He said the welcome in South America has been "fabulous.''
The 2009 edition will traverse 5,600 miles in Argentina and Chile, with racing over nearly 3,700 miles in 15 days, with one rest day.
The race will start in Buenos Aires, go to Patagonia, the Andes mountains and venture into the Atacama desert, the world's driest, Lavigne said. The exact route is still being worked out.