Desert driving tips and essentials to fully enjoy the off-road outdoors.

Off roading in the desert can be an adventurous experience

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Taking your SUV for an off road desert driving experience is an amazing feeling, but it can also be a complete disaster! You must take the time to prepare yourself and your car for the trip.

Here are a few tips to help make your trip a fun, safe experience that you’ll want to repeat.

Mandatory Desert Driving Checklist 

  • Fully charged cellphone with car charger.
  • Plenty of drinking water
  • Solar powered flash light
  • First Aid Kit
  • Full tank of gas
  • Printed maps, compass and GPS
  • Towing rope, shovel and hooks

It is always best to be fully prepared for the trip. The desert can be a dangerous and lonely place, if you find yourself stuck or broken down without help.

Since your vehicle is your lifeline in and out of the desert. Do a complete vehicle check before leaving and make sure all of your fluids are topped off and your tyres are ready for the trip.

Always let someone know where you are going and set a time to contact them to let them know you are okay. If you ever get lost or break down, then the people at home should know when and where to start looking for you.

Plan the journey and know where you are, and where you’re going.  Always follow the maps and drive on the trail, hard packed sand left behind by other cars.

Desert driving

Basic Desert Driving Tips

Driving technique is equally important. There are some basic tips; first is drive slow and easy. You’ll damage tyres, break things and lose out on desert driving experiences if you try to drive too fast.

Put your vehicle in 4-wheel drive before you need it, and shift to low range early to reduce the strain on your vehicle.

When in deep sand, keep your speed up and use higher gears; don’t spin the tyres, and don’t stop till you’re clear of it. If you get stuck in sand, try letting some of the air out of your tyres (remember to air them up again as soon as you can). After digging out the sand that is blocking your tyres, you can use a piece of wood, some canvas for traction. If you have plenty of water available you might try moistening the sand in front of your tyres.

When you’re approaching a dune, don’t just rush into it blindly — look it over, and realize the dune might make a sharp turn just when you can’t see anything but the hood of your car.

Another important rule: remember that any dune you go down you may also have to come back up. If you don’t think you can come back up it, don’t go down unless there is another clear and obvious trail out. You will occasionally encounter other vehicles on the trail. Just as on the road, you should stay right to avoid oncoming traffic, if you can. If it is safer to move left instead of right, then by all means do so; the rule of common sense applies. If there is only room for one vehicle to pass, the more maneuverable vehicle, or the more experienced driver, should give way.

When two vehicles meet on a narrow stretch and there isn’t a safe place to pull over, the vehicle traveling uphill has the right of way. It is safer for the vehicle traveling downhill to back up, and it will be much easier for the downhill vehicle to get under way.

Remember that what may look like a short trip on the map may take many hours in a 4-wheel drive — so allow enough time for safe travel. Also, know that a short trip by car can be a day-long hike. Plan accordingly; if you break down you may need to hike out if help doesn’t come along in a reasonable time.

Always leave a note on your car if you are leaving it unattended with directions of which way you are headed out and what time you left.

Some of the trails you could try this season in UAE and Oman

  • Awafi, near Ras Al Khaimah. Steep dunes, lush forests, wildlife and a family favorite picnic spot.
  • Salamat, Al Ain.
  • Oman’s Indian Ocean coastline. …
  • Farthest reaches of the Arabian Peninsula. …
  • UAE east coast
  • Liwa region.
  • Wadi Al Helo, Sharjah.
  • Wadi Sharm, Oman.

All the best for your desert adventures. Read more on our Essentials Section here.

Juan Manuel
the authorJuan Manuel
Track racing, competing, it's in my blood. It's part of me, it's part of my life; I have been doing it all my life and it stands out above everything else.