Traveling around - Be prepared - responsibility disclaimer

Travelling through a desert requires proper preparation.

Health Warning: a number of these tours go into uninhabited desert with soft sands and sabkha (salt marsh). Never travel in these areas alone and prepare yourself properly.

Responsibility disclaimer: I do not have any responsibility for people getting into trouble following the routes published on this website. 

The desert is an unforgiving environment. It looks easy from a modern air-conditioned 4WD car, but if that fails you are back to basics.

People have died and will die without precautions.

  • Never go off-road alone. A minimum of two cars is the rule. Three is ideal and if they are of the same make that is even better 
    (you can swap tires).
  • Leave your itinerary with a friend with clear instructions what to do if you do not return in time
  • Take recovery tools: spades, rope (and attachments), sand mats or ladders
  • Take two spare tires. That sounds a lot, but partly deflated tires (in soft sands) easily get punctures
  • Take a good jack
  • Take a good air pump (high capacity)
  • Take sufficient water (at least 25 litres more than you think you will need for drinking)
  • Take sufficient petrol: there are no petrol stations in middle of nowhere
  • If you have -or can get- do take a satellite phone (mobiles work only in limited areas)
  • Check your car before embarking on such a trip.

This list is not exhaustive. Check the links at the bottom.

To push the message even more home:

  • In November 2005 a couple from Bahrain followed my route through the Northern Huqf. They got seriously stuck in soft sand not far into the Huqf and  were 'rescued' by another party of four cars after two days. They were alone, they were in an area that they were not allowed to enter without permission, they had no equipment nor tools and little water. Ready for suicide I would say.
  • Photographer / writer Pinaki visited the Umm As Samim area on his own in 2005 and got into trouble. His story is breathtaking and his pictures reveal that close and almost fatal encounter with nature.
    http://www.pinaki.info/om_umm.htm

This happens too often. Most people get away with it, but some do not. There is that couple found dead a couple of years ago in a game-park in Africa with two small children dead and strapped in the car yet with 20 litres of water in jerry cans. It appears they had been stuck several times, had to change tires, got exhausted, overheated, passed out and died. The small children in the back, solidly strapped, had no chance.

Do not take chances with mother nature in an uninhabited desert area. Respect nature and she will respect you.

Environmental rules:

Please note that most of the Huqf area is part of the Oryx Sanctuary, since 1990 a Unesco World Heritage Site. Access to the area requires permission of the Oman's Directorate General of Nature Conservation.

Where ever you go protect wildlife, plants and trees:

  • keep to existing tracks,
  • drive in single files,
  • camp at established sites,
  • take all litter home
  • do not cut trees or bushes for campfires -take your own wood-
  • avoid unnecessary noise,
  • behave and dress appropriately
  • leave wildlife and livestock alone
  • do not take or buy wildlife or wildlife products.

Useful websites explaining about off-road driving.

Please note that all give the same message: be prepared and do not underestimate what can go wrong

 

 

   

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@ J. Schreurs 03/11/09