16 Nov 2012: As film classic Lawrence of Arabia is re-released, why not channel your inner Omar Sharif with a few adventurous trips into the dunes?
Trek through Almería’s movie hotspots: Spain
It may not immediately ring any bells, but the Tabernas in Almería is considered to be Europe’s only real desert and has provided the backdrop for many famous films, including Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, and Lawrence of Arabia. Who can forget Omar Sharif emerging from the wobbly desert heat haze? Tour Dust offers a six-day walking tour, with picnic lunches and the chance to tour the so-called “mini Hollywood” film set.
• The Tour Dust (020-3291 2907, tourdust.com) trip starts at Lanjarón and costs from £501pp for six days including tour guide, six nights’ accommodation, as well as airport transfers (to and from Málaga, Granada or Almería)
Help deliver mail in the outback: Australia
Coober Pedy, a small mining town in South Australia, halfway between Adelaide and Alice Springs, is known as the opal capital of the world. It is so hot that many people live in underground houses, and visitors can get a taste of the subterranean experience by staying in the airy, dug-out rooms of the Desert Cave Hotel. The hotel offers ways to explore the area, such as the Painted Desert Tour, which will please Priscilla, Queen of the Desert fans as it includes a trip to Moon Plains, a fossil-rich former seabed where the movie was set. The Mail Run, operated by local outfit Desert Diversity, is a trip that allows would-be Postman Pats to meet Coober Pedy residents by helping to deliver their post.
• The all-day Painted Desert Tour (+61 8 8672 5688, desertcave.com.au, doubles from £160) costs £138pp, including morning and afternoon tea, lunch and entry fees. The Mail Run tour (+61 8 8672 5226, desertdiversity.com) starts at the Underground Bookshop in Coober Pedy, £125pp for the day
Visit a film studio in the Sahara, Morocco
Atlas Studios is where The Mummy, Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven were filmed. A visit to the studio is featured on a four-day Atlas Trek Shop tour of the Erg Chebbi sand dunes and Ait Benhaddou Desert which starts and ends in Marrakech. It includes a two-hour scenic drive along Tizi n’Tichka, the highest mountain pass in the Atlas, and offers guests the chance to spend a night in a traditional Berber tent. Other stops along the way include various valleys and gorges and the 11th-century Ait Benhaddou kasbah.
• The Atlas Trek Shop (+212 6 6876 0165, atlastrekshop.com) tour costs from £200pp for four days, including breakfast, dinner, accommodation, a two-hour camel ride, and 4×4 or minibus with driver
Kite buggy into the Gobi Desert: Mongolia
Happy Camel offers a 15-day guided expedition crossing 50km of this wild landscape. You will pass monasteries and castle ruins, as well as the Flaming Cliffs, where American explorer Roy Chapman Andrews discovered a vast collection of dinosaur bones and eggs in the 1920s. It also takes in Gobi Gurvansaikhan national park, where desert gazelles and golden eagles can often be spotted.
• The Happy Camel (happycamel.com) trip costs from £3,230pp for 15 days, including accommodation in tents, Mongolian ger tents and hotels, food, guide, and van
Slice through the desert on a sandboard: Peru
Peru Adventure Tours runs day trips that will take visitors into the Arequipa Desert in a 4×4. Beginners may join the Arequipa Sandboard Tour, which sees guests slide down three different dunes before cooling off by the beach – followed by a visit to the Mejía Lagoons national bird sanctuary. Experienced boarders may prefer the Cerro Blanco Sandboard Tour, which lets them tackle the highest sand dune in the world at 2,070m.
• The Arequipa tour with Peru Adventure Tours (+51 54 9738 42688,peruadventurestours.com) costs £121pp for nine hours, including tour guide, 4×4, boards, lunch, porter, water and entrance to the bird sanctuary. The Cerro Blanco tour costs £59pp for eight hours, including tour guide, van, board, snacks and access to swimming pool
Drive your own off-roader across the sands of Arizona: US
On this excursion, intrepid off-roaders can cross the Sonoran Desert in Tomcars (rugged two-seater buggies), accompanied by local guides. The trip takes in a “ghost town”, Indian ruins, and a turquoise mine, where visitors can try their hand at mining for the stone and keep what they find. Wildlife includes coyotes, rattlesnakes and desert mule deer.
• The half-day tour with Desert Wolf (+1 882 613 9653,desertwolftours.com) starts at New River, Maricopa County, and costs £90 for adults, £55 for under-12s