12-Feb-2016 -- The trip to confluence point 22N 59E was nothing short of spectacular. This was truly an expedition through the unchartered terrain for most of the team members. The team comprised of 4 cars from Dubayy and Masqaṭ each; and 1 car each from Sharjah (al-Šāriqa) and Abū Zaby and represented Adventure Emarat, Adventure Oman, and Dubai Offroaders adventure clubs. The team (many of whom had never met before) had planned to do an East-West route of the vast Wahība Sands desert (also called Šarqiyya Sands and/or Ramlat Āl Wahība) via this confluence point.
The team assembled at al-Kāmil town of the Šarqiyya region of the Sultanate of Oman at about 21:00 hrs of 11 February 2016; had dinner at a local restaurant and entered the Wahības at a spot right behind the town. The convoy drove for about 35 km on sand tracks and settled down to camp some 5 km from the confluence point. Although a part of the sand desert, this area is dotted with thick vegetation; and hence a plenty of rodents, lizards, scorpions etc. It took us a while to identify an acceptable camp site. Once there, the camp was quickly set up and everyone gathered around the bonfire to relax and share experiences of desert drives and adventures in the wild. By the time we decided to retire for the day, it was around 03:00 hrs, the temperatures had dropped rapidly to single digits, which resulted accumulation of a lot of dew on our tents.
The morning of 12 February 2016 started with the bonfire and tea/coffee to beat the chill. We even had a passing local farmer stop by and enjoy the warmth of the bonfire and tea before he drove off in his direction. We broke the camp at 08:30 hrs and proceeded towards the confluence point with Ajay Sikri in the lead; Arun D’Souza in second lead; and Tauseef in the sweep.
Initially the drive was easy with firm sand but the situation changed rapidly as the sun became warmer. Soon, the drive became quite technical with small dunes; narrow gullies and very soft sand in between thick vegetation.
Finally, we reached the confluence area, parked some 200 meters away and trekked to the Ground Zero, where a small bush was proudly sitting atop the confluence point. The confluence area is situated above a sand ridge and is surrounded by sand dunes all around. We clicked the customary pictures and proceeded with the expedition in the westerly direction.
The day had become warm and the sand very soft. The refusals, recoveries, pushing, and winching were plenty. On many occasions, we had the most capable cars and with experienced drivers buried in the sand to their chassis. Even the desert boots were digging deep into the sand. Although there were many escape routes available in the north-south direction, the team happily accepted the challenge and decided not to bail out. Finally, at about 17:00 hrs, we reached the designated camping spot, where another team of 4 cars from Adventure Oman joined us from Masqaṭ. We enjoyed another camp night with mouthwatering BBQ, curries, and rice cooked on-site and of course with single digit temperature and wet tents.
Next day morning, we had another drive through the sand dunes for the benefit of the team that had joined us the previous evening before we dispersed and proceeded in our respective directions.
This was an enjoyable and a memorable weekend though the round trip clocked over 1300 km on the odometer.