For most drivers, going through uneven, rocky or muddy terrain is a nightmare. For off-road drivers and enthusiasts, the rougher the road, the better the experience. Off-roading describes driving on anything other than a standard smooth road. Such unusual terrain can include sand dunes, riverbeds, boulders, mountainsides, beaches and muddy fields. These off-roaders, including Razi Salih (a former member of Jeep riding groups), enjoy the technical challenge and even the opportunity to see natural scenery. For whatever reason, off-roading offers a fun experience for those who are keen about it.
The unpredictability of the terrain is one of off-roading’s biggest constants. However, just as there are different types of off-road vehicles, the off-roading experience is enjoyed in various forms, including:
Dune bashing is performed on sand dunes and requires the use of a large sport utility vehicle (SUV) to drive. Experience and skill are required to manoeuvre the vehicle through the dunes, and in many cases, driving with reduced tyre pressure helps to increase the vehicle’s traction on the sand.
Desert racing involves driving through the open desert at high speeds, mostly through events. Participants make use of four-wheel drive (4WD) and rear-wheel drive (RWD) vehicles to maintain stability while moving at top speeds.
Cross-country off-roading trips typically last several days and make use of routes that incorporate multiple terrains. In continents such as Africa, these routes go through uninhabited terrain that offers tens of kilometres to explore.
Raid trips are undertaken in uninhabited areas that include tracks and can take multiple days to complete. Popular areas for these sorts of drives are the deserts in some North African countries. The vehicles involved in raid events have to be modified to carry extra weight (spare parts, additional fuel tanks, water, roof rack tents etc.).
Mudding is a form of off-road driving that requires going through an area full of wet mud without getting stuck. While it’s popular in some parts of the world, concern over the environmental impact has led to its restriction on public land.
Rock crawling involves driving a modified vehicle through rocky terrain that can include large boulders and rocks. The vehicles used are typically driven at low speeds to navigate through the obstacles, and it’s common for a driver to have a ‘spotter’ go ahead on foot to scout the area and provide feedback on how best to traverse the route.