29-Nov-2002 -- Some lucky employees in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are given a compulsory break at the end of the holy month of Ramaḍān. I was one of them, but was unable to find any others that had stayed in the Kingdom and who were interested in a long trek through the desert. Therefore, I decided to visit the south-west region of Saudi Arabia on conventional tarmac roads rather than across the desert. So, my son, Sean, and I embarked on a six-day journey of nearly three thousand kilometres which was routed to visit the region’s sights as well as take us past as many confluence points as possible (see also 20N 45E, 19N 45E, 18N 43E, 19N 43E, 21N 43E, 22N 42E, 24N 43E).
Having visited the 19N 45E confluence, we again drove south. We took the SW fork where the Ṭuwayq escarpment was replaced by fairly large dunes to the south and mountain outcrops in the west. With the Confluence directly to our west, we left the road and made our way towards the destination on desert tracks. After about thirty kilometres we intersected a narrow tarmac road and followed this on a north-west bearing until we reached the small village of Thār.
At this stage I was not very optimistic as the area was made up of high granite hills with the occasional steep valley between them. But having made a two-hour detour, I was not going to submit without a very good attempt. We drove through the village, and after a short time the tarmac ended. We made several attempts to find a way into the hills but were thwarted each time. Finally, we found a faint track that could lead us closer, but again I was not too optimistic. The track wove through the hills for about two kilometres and by shear luck ended about 40 metres from the confluence point.
As we were walking towards the confluence point we heard another vehicle. An old Saudi man arrived and challenged us loudly in Arabic. He brandished an old rifle and wore the traditional Arabic dagger, so it seemed prudent to be as civil as possible. I politely told him in my sparse Arabic that we were taking photographs of the area. He was unhappy with the GPS until I put it away, but seemed to understand the camera. After further broken Arabic greetings, he seemed to realise that we were not a threat and allowed me to photograph him and the area.
We were in a very narrow, steep valley with the actual confluence point being a little way up one of the granite hills in the scree slope. The hill blocked the view to the west, and with being at the bottom of such a narrow valley the views were not panoramic. However, the granite scenery made a change from the usual sand.
Continued at 18N 43E.