Expedition watch: Rub’ al Khali (Empty Quarter) Desert trek

Posted: Oct 29, 2012 08:20 am EDT

(Newsdesk) Wilfred Thesiger's crossing of the Rub' al Khali (Empty Quarter) Desert has been an inspiration for several expeditions across this Arabian Desert. Also for Alastair Humphreys and Leon McCarron.

The two Brits are busy packing their bags for a trek across the Arabian Desert in Oman and the UAE. They will pull a cart with their food, water and equipment from Salalah on the south coast of Oman to Dubai.

Being a desert, it will be hot during the day but it is now the best time of the year to go, says Alastair to ExplorersWeb. Instead of a tent they will be using a tarp system, “hopefully it will provide shade in the midday heat and a bit of warmth at night.” They will resupply with water at settlements every 10 days or so.

Al explains about their clothes and boots, “Our clothing is from RailRiders and our boots are from Ecco and Profeet.

They needed visas for entering the countries, but, assured Alastair, “it is not the most difficult logistical countries I have ever been to.” Among Alastair’s many adventures, in a journey that took him 4 years to complete, he rode from England through Africa to South Africa, crossed the Atlantic by yacht and then cycled the Americas from Patagonia to Alaska. Crossing the Pacific by freighter, Alastair completed his expedition by cycling back to England from eastern Siberia though Asia and Europe. He travelled through 60 countries and covered 46,000 miles.

A few months ago Leon completed a 3000 mile winter walk, pulling a cart from Mongolia, through the Gobi Desert, to Hong Kong together with Rob Lilwall. ExWeb asked him what lessons he brings from that expedition to this one.

“Unfortunately the Gobi was a very different desert, and the trailer we used there (‘Molly Brown’) was also a very different trailer! Most of the lessons I've picked up have been to do with preparation - for the Gobi we had none, and although we haven't had as much as we'd have liked for this one, we're at least getting some practice.”

He adds, “I found it very important when pulling the trailer to do longer stints and fewer breaks - the hardest bit is always getting the trailer moving, so once it’s going, keep it going!”

Alastair has great admiration for the British Rub’ al Khali / Empty Quarter explorer, Sir Wilfred Thesiger (June 3rd, 1910 – August 24th, 2003). He shares lessons that he learned from Thesiger, “Simplicity of gear and purpose; trying to live in the moment and savor the experiences even when it is difficult and monotonous. That the small rewards - a glass of water - are all you really need on an expedition. Learning to be grateful for small things.”

Expedition teaser:

Empty Quarter Expedition Teaser from Alastair Humphreys on Vimeo.

This short video gives a glimpse of the terrain that awaits, says the guys:

Empty Quarter - George Steinmetz from George Steinmetz on Vimeo.

Al and Leon won't be blogging during the expedition. Until they leave home in little more than a week, their preparation updates will be streaming in ExWeb’s live Dispatch feed. When they get home after 6-8 weeks they will tell their story on their blogs, which will then again stream on ExplorersWeb.

Expeditions with RSS feeds can be followed in the live Dispatch stream at the Pythom App for iPhone and on Android as well as at ExplorersWeb.

ExplorersWeb Expedition List

#Trek #topstory

Wilfred Thesiger's diary from his crossing of the Empty Quarter (Rub' al Khali) Desert. He has been an inspiration for several Rub' al Khali expeditions.
Image by Alastair Humphreys courtesy Alastair Humphreys, SOURCE
In the image, the cart that Leon McCarron and Rob Lilwall used during their 3000-mile walk from Mongolia to Hong Kong. "The hardest bit is always getting the trailer moving, so once it’s going, keep it going!” says Leon.
courtesy Leon McCarron, SOURCE
Alastair Humphreys and Leon McCarron are taking a cart similar to this one, “though it will have 8 wheels to stop it sinking into the sand (I hope!!)” Al says to ExplorersWeb.
courtesy Alastair Humphreys, SOURCE

Visit our new website