More than 850 four-wheel drive vehicles hit the dunes on one day and everything runs like clockwork. Except for the occasional car stuck in the dunes. But worry not - experts, who are part of the caravan, promptly come to the rescue.

The 38th Gulf News Overnighter Fun Drive will kick off on January 11. Over the decades, the organising team members have become experts in managing the massive event.

There are participants, too, who have been returning to the event, year after year. As Sharjah resident Khalid Al Matrooshi put it: “It’s in my blood.” This year will be his 24th drive with Gulf News.

In 33 years, Gulf News has taken off-roading enthusiasts like Al Matrooshi on memorable drives with both day-long drives and overnighters. The terrain, which is chosen with care every year, ensures that everyone — from beginners to experts — has their dune bashing skills challenged.

“This year, we are going into the heart of the desert, near the Empty Quarter,” John Spiller, route director of the Gulf News Fun Drive, said.

This is his fourth year selecting the route that all the participants will take and even the most seasoned off-roaders will have their skills tested, according to Spiller.

“We have to design the route bearing in mind all the abilities of the drivers, because we want to give everybody a good change to get through the route,” he added.

International Automobile and Touring Club, IATC, which has sponsored the event since it started, spoke about how the Fun Drive lined up perfectly with what it did.

“IATC offers road safety, recovery and we also provide 24-hour road side assistance. We are from the desert and the Fun Drive gives us an opportunity to show the drivers how to safely drive in the desert and also teach them how to get out of the sand if their car is stuck,” a spokesperson said.

From food to entertainment and an overnight camp, there are several aspects to the Fun Drive that make it much more than another desert drive. This year, 22 sponsors along with several Gulf News staff members and volunteer marshals are going to come together to take you into the heart of the desert. Are you game?