Deserts, mountains and open roads: get some driving inspiration with our list of the most adventurous drives on the planet
Whether you want to be inspired to go off road in your 4x4 or even take part in the rally yourself, here are seven exciting drives to get you thinking. Start your engines...
In motoring circles, this is a word synonymous with a derring-do that teeters on the brink of madness. A celebrated rally across vast deserts, snow-capped mountains and unmapped wilderness, it’s unpredictable and unsupported.
The Mongol Rally is where eccentricity meets endurance. It covers 10,000 miles across inhospitable Mongolian deserts to Ulan-Ude in eastern Russia. Engine capacity is restricted to 1000cc (electric cars are allowed, too) and there’s no support. As its organisers state: ‘If it’s not dangerous and you aren’t lost, you’re not on an adventure.’
The ideal way to sample a flavour of the original Paris–Dakar on a shoestring, this mixes a 4000-mile classic-car caper with philanthropic initiative. Groups of customised Renault 4s travel through France and Spain before crossing the Moroccan desert to distribute educational supplies to remote schools.
Period rally cars are pitted against more than 3000 miles of unmade roads through Kenya and Tanzania. It’s difficult, dangerous and very expensive – but, for the true enthusiast, sliding a vintage Porsche 911 around these dirt roads is nothing less than rallying nirvana.
This US-based, women-only event is designed for ordinary drivers in standard road cars. It’s an old-school navigational challenge, which eschews speed and tech in favour of maps, compasses and road books. A week and 1200 miles of the most spectacular scenery in California and Nevada is yours for $12,000 per two-person team.
If you want a taste of the Dakar on two wheels instead of four, Red Sky Adventures offer a guided three-day motorcycle adventure through the Moroccan desert and Anti-Atlas mountains, taking in official routes from the original event during the day before depositing you in rejuvenating four-star hotels for the night.
7. Cross-country rallies
You don’t have to travel to the ends of the earth to experience an overland adventure. Various cross-country motorsport events are held here in the UK with a range of lengths and courses to choose from – and some are seen as training grounds for the likes of the Dakar itself.
If you’d like to learn to handle mud, rough terrain, challenging hill climbs and steep descents in your vehicle, the 4x4 Group arranges open events for beginners and experts, giving you the chance to test your skills.