Whilst some people simply use their vehicles for a means of transport, there is an entirely other section of population that love to put their vehicles to the test in off-road environments. With so many vehicles these days claiming to be the ultimate ‘drive anywhere’ companion, it’s easy to see why some may want to test the facts.
Just like most other outdoor enthusiasts, off-roaders enjoy exploring wild places while visiting spots few other people ever get the opportunity to see. Here are five of the best places on earth to off-road selected at varied levels of experience.
The Moab Desert region is probably the most well known off-road destination in the USA and worldwide. Moab offers explorers endless trails and tracks to explore with some stunning natural landscape on route. Catering for all levels of experience and vehicle, Moab has something for everybody, from the easier beginner routes through to the highly challenging trails designed to push experienced off-roaders with fully equipped vehicles to the limit.
Expansive, and seemingly endless sandstone landscapes provide a truly stunning backdrop for those brave enough to venture into the unknown. The landscape also offers visitors the chance to camp, mountain bike or hike and experience unique rock formations, captivating desert scenery and stone ancient landscapes, some untouched by human interference.
The Sahara desert covers the entire northern section of the largest continent on earth and its extreme heat, topography and landscape make it an off-roaders dream. One trail in particular receives numerous visitors every year - the road from Casablanca to Cape Town. Almost 12,000km of the most testing terrain on the planet awaits intrepid explorers and is certain to put even the most experienced off-road drivers and their vehicles to the test.
Desert landscapes offer drivers a different off-road experience where drivers are called upon to deal with buried wheels and major issues caused by sand and dust, all combining to provide a testing and fun experience in one of the world's most inhospitable places. The Sahara also plays host to a women-only event every year - The Rallye Aicha des Gazelles - consisting of a 100 percent off-road course, pitting teams of two against each other racing across the desert landscape of Morocco.
The majority of visitors to Baja go for the long sandy beaches, wildlife watching opportunities and laid back atmosphere. But another scene entirely is bubbling behind the scenes with races like the BAJA 1000 offering participants one of the best ways to experience the desert landscape and have certainly helped put this location on any serious off-roaders bucket list.
Catering for a variety of off-road vehicles, one can explore the vast landscapes via ATV or choose to get a real hands on experience with a quad bike or motorbike. There is something for all levels of off-roaders here, coupled with endless possibilities to explore by foot and to stay at one of the many coastal resorts along the route to get some much needed rest, Baja has something for everyone.
Botswana, and specifically the Makgadikgadi region, has one of the world’s largest salt plains and a huge dried up lake area, well known for providing visitors with challenging 4×4 off-road driving conditions. The trail most frequented navigates explorers through the National Park and is a real visual treat, as well as being one of the toughest off-road terrains available. The terrain is mostly flat and dusty with large open areas, with both small and large holes and damage to the surface well known to cause damage to vehicles. In fact it is not advisable to off-road at all in this area during the rainy season due to the ground becoming wet, marshy and very difficult to navigate.
Potential visitors may have watched the British TV show - Top Gear: Botswana Special that originally aired in 2007. The episode sees hosts, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, travelling across to Botswana with a car that each had bought in Africa for less than £1500 in an attempt to travel to places usually reserved for off-road vehicles with mixed results. The terrain is treacherous and the conditions challenging with temperatures soaring well over 100F (35C) - The Top Gear special might be as close as most people get to attempting this particular off-road challenge.
California is home to the legendary Rubicon Trail - 35km of the most difficult driving conditions including some of the most challenging rock formations and off-road sections on the planet. This trail is a popular destination with off-road enthusiasts from around the world that will test even the best drivers, with many sections requiring a steady hand, patience, persistence and strategic planning.
The trail has become so famous that that car manufacturer Jeep named one of its popular Wrangler models after it. A serious trail, not for the faint of heart, the Rubicon is a trail that is on every 4×4 driver’s bucket list and is generally the benchmark used by all other off-road routes. For those willing to brave the conditions and put their vehicle, and skills to the test are rewarded with a stunningly beautiful drive through the Sierra Nevada, and the sense of satisfaction of participating and possibly completing one of the toughest off-road trails on the planet.