24-Feb-2008 -- There are not many confluence points left in the Empty Quarter. To develop new points not submitted yet you have to go very far from any road or village. My old friend Andy and I have set up a one-week trip to try to get to three open points in the far south-east of Saudi Arabia, 20N 54E, 20N 53E, and 21N 54E. Russell, Georg, Ulli, and my lovely wife have joined us.
On the long drive on the road going from Riyāḍ to the border of the Emirates we had a heavy sand storm with sand that blasted our head lights and removed some color from our cars. Fortunately when we left the road at about 9 p.m. the weather conditions became much better.
Friday morning we drove to the last gas station to top up our tanks and canister. Everybody had to carry 400 liter of gasoline to make sure we will be able to come out of the desert again. The first 35 km were fairly easy on a track but ended right on a new built oil rig. I knew there is a track used by Bedouins and oil exploration companies but I could not find it. So we had to go cross-country through some sand dunes a little bit tricky to drive. After some stops we needed to recover the cars out of the sand with the help of shovel, ropes and winches. Luckily I found the track what made the drive much easier and faster.
At sunset we managed to arrive at a sulfur spring drilled by Aramco a couple of years ago. Even if the smell is a bit strong in the beginning, it is very nice to have a shower with this 40 centigrade warm water.
Straight south was the direction for next day, similar to the day before. Early afternoon we reached an oasis fed by another Aramco well. After a short photo stop we changed the direction to south-east towards the sabkha. We crossed this area on a nice track and were able to get to the Confluence by noon.
We stopped at this place for about 2 hours to take a lot of photos and for having our lunch. But we had to rush because the next confluence 20N 53E was waiting for us already.