406 cars, trucks, buggies, ATVs and motorcycles set off from Buenos Aires’ dense city center, drifted across dirt roads, flew through grasslands, navigated sand traps and threaded through mountain passes — and that was day one, just a small hint at the next 13 days ahead. This is the 2015 Dakar Rally.

More than 5,000 miles of terrain grows exponentially more dangerous and deadly as drivers and riders head over the Andes Mountains into Chile, through Bolivia and then back over the Andes and down into Argentina to conclude the race. Combining endurance and determination, the athletes subject themselves to the most grueling and tortuous environments Mother Nature has to offer. Ignoring the fact that She’s doing her damnedest to kill off our brave, She occasionally reveals herself as spectacular. With a backdrop of tough landscape and a foreground of tougher drivers, Dakar’s a dramatic theater for motorsports’ most rugged scenes.

Head to nbcsports.com for live action and highlights from the 2015 Dakar Rally. And for more photos, visit Dakar.com.