31-Jan-2004 -- The confluence 20N 49E was visited as part of a trip into the Saudi Arabian Empty Quarter or "al-Rub` al-Khāliy" desert during the 2004 Islamic Ḥajj Holidays. The trip consisted of 4 cars driven by Frieder Dornseifer, Heiko Jopke, Frank Oberlaender (and his son Nils), and myself. The idea was to "bag" unclaimed Confluences along the euphemistic "Highway 49". We had agreed to take turns to drive to each Confluence and each driver lead the distance from one Confluence to the next.
The trip to 20N 49E began after a long lunch the previous day taken at "Heiko's" confluence 21N 49E. We changed the driving order and I took my turn to lead, continuing the journey south until around 4:15 p.m. when we stopped and made camp at the base of a large dune line. There was enough time to be able to setup camp, play on the sand dunes, and relax a while before the sun went down. Heiko and Nils chose to test several methods of sliding down a slipface. Heiko also gave a demonstration on how to somersault down a slipface on sand skies.
Before our evening meal, I took a make-shift shower consisting of a carefully positioned plastic jerry can on the roof rack of my car fitted with a special nozzle attachment. The water temperature was just right as it had sat on the roof all day and had claimed the sun's heat. Like the driving, we had agreed to take turns to provide and cook evening meals. I forget who actually cooked that night - I only know it was not me.
On the morning of 31 Jan, we had breakfasted and packed up camp by 8:45 a.m. The journey continued and we encountered many more dunes, as the terrain became the classic Empty Quarter parallel dune lines. We also encountered many substantial slipfaces, which were enjoyed by all. The last 10 km before the 20N 49E confluence proved the most challenging and slow progress was made due to the number of dunes and bowls to navigate. We arrived at the Confluence just before mid-day and it was quite fitting that it was situated on the slope of a small bowl. As a result of the sandy terrain, the distance travelled between the 20N 49E and 19N 49E confluences proved to be about 135 km (as opposed to around 111 km direct line of sight).
We explored the confluence site, snacked and took the usual group photos. It was agreed that we should not stop for a full-blown lunch with tables, chairs and canopy but to continue the journey south. The next Confluence was 19N 49E and this was lead by Frieder.