The 2006 Land Rover G4 Challenge began in Bangkok, Thailand on April 23 2006; it then traversed Laos for 10 days before relocating 10,000 miles away to Rio de Janeiro for the 2-week South American Stage in Brazil and Bolivia. The diverse scenery and culture offered by each of the four countries was an unforgettable experience for all that touched it.
Stage One 23rd – 29th April 2006.
The Stage opens in Bangkok, a chaotic, bustling, noisy, vibrant and cosmopolitan city where gold temples and saffron robed monks sit alongside city sky scrapers. Once the Mekong River is crossed and the Challenge convoy arrives into Laos, the untouched remoteness is evident. It is a lowland region with lots of paddy rice fields, river crossings, log bridges, mud and ruts and then some amazing limestone pinnacles and rock formations. There is little or no Western influence in Laos and village life is very traditional. The Stage finishes in Vientiane – the capital of Laos.
Stage Two 30th April – 5th May 2006.
Departing Vientiane, the route heads through heavily forested jungle type scenery before reaching Vang Vieng, with its huge limestone bunts. The scenery from Vang Vieng up into the Annamite Mountains and into Luang Prabang is the most striking in Laos. Luang Prabang is the cultural highlight of this Stage, a city of gleaming temple roofs and crumbling French provincial architecture. Laos Hill Tribe people can be seen walking the markets and Monks, in their bright orange robes, are heavily present.
Stage Three 6th – 13th May 2006.
Stage Three opens in Rio de Janeiro, with the urban competitions. Rio is a stunningly beautiful, bustling, cosmopolitan city where beach culture prevails. Bolivia offers a stark contrast with remote landscapes, broken sporadically with small villages – often with Spanish influence. The Stage Finish is in the small colonial city of Sucre, at an altitude of nearly 3000 metres. Indigenous Indian habitants prevail in Sucre. The colourful shawls and ladies in bowler hats create a unique and memorable picture.
Stage Four 14th - 20th May 2006.
The Stage Start includes a convoy to Potosi, which is the highest city in the world, at over 4000 metres altitude. The scenery on this Stage is dramatic and incredibly varied – canyons, butts, sand and salt lakes. The remote Altiplano villages are inhabited by friendly locals in the bowler hats and brightly coloured blankets. The stage highlight is definitely The Salar de Uyuni – the world's largest salt lake. The 2006 Land Rover G4 Challenge Final takes place on the last day of competition. This is when the top four competitors go head-to-head to find the ultimate winner!