Dune bashing, also known as desert safari, is a form of Off-roading, using an Off-road vehicle to explore Sand dunes. Whilst in some parts of the world, such as the fragile coastal dunes of Australia, it is illegal, in others such as the Middle East, it is a booming attraction for tourists. In the United States, there are a couple of areas as well, most notably the Silver Lake State Park (Michigan) area in Mears, Michigan and portions of the Glamis Dunes in California.
Although most Four-wheel drive vehicles are capable of dune bashing, the smaller, lower vehicles like most Mini SUVs and Compact SUVs are not used because they have a higher risk of getting stuck. Larger Sport utility vehicles such as the Toyota Land Cruiser are more common. The vehicles used for this activity are usually equipped with a Roll cage to prevent the roof from caving in on passengers in the case of an overturn.
Similar to auto-racing, experience and skill is required to manoeuvre the car and prevent accidents. Hence, in most cases, a professional driver accompanies the group. A group can consist of as many people as there are working seatbelts in the vehicle. Before entering the desert in an everyday-use SUV, it is essential to reduce the tire pressure. This is done to gain more traction by increasing the footprint of the tire and, therefore, reducing the downward pressure of the 4wd on the sand as there is a greater surface area (much like the head of an axe, the axe must be sharp in order to split the wood). For example, tires with a recommended pressure of 35 psi would be reduced to approximately 17 PSI.(do not reduce tyre pressure too far as you risk rolling the tyre off the rim).
Upon entering the desert, it is common to meet with a pack of vehicles and a group leader before proceeding. The group leader then leads the pack through the stunts in single file. The main reason for this technique is to prevent vehicles from losing track of direction and getting lost.
Prices for such an activity vary according to geographic location. In Dubai, UAE, half a day of dune bashing with a tour company costs between US$ 40 and US$ 60 per person or US$ 300 to rent a six-seat vehicle, with a driver included.
- Off road park
- Silver Lake State Park (Michigan)