I’ve been to Liwa again (twice) and here’s the account of the first outing. My friend’s husband who used to live here in Al Ain and is a keen offroad driver has returned to the UK for family reasons, but he still comes out here on holiday. We got to talking about his next visit, and when I told her how much I would like to be the person who took him driving for the first time in Liwa, our plan was hatched.
His holiday flights were booked around my schedule….I then told some of our other friends about our plans, and the “Liwa Virgins and Veterans” trip was a reality!
We headed to Madinat Zayed City on the Thursday night and set up camp, ready for an early-ish start on the Friday morning. The trip plan was to drive to the old abandoned tanker, then continue West til we reached the Arada area.
Vince offered to lead us to the tanker, and as nobody else was desperate for this honour we let him!
All the team looking fresh and enthusiastic early in the day.
There were a few soft spots… thank goodness for my winch
Lots of people have photos of themselves standing beside this tanker, but that’s so “last year”!
After leaving the tanker I thought it would be a good idea to let our guest of honour, the Duckmeister aka Mike Bryan lead, and he did a damned fine job!
He found a steep slipface or two….
some lovely lovely sand dunes
an oasis powered by solar panels
as well as a huge herd of camels! We hit the blacktop at lunchtime after completing 80kms on the sand then headed to our respective hotels.
Day two saw four of the original 7 cars hit the sand for a more advanced drive through the Liwa crescent.
Now there’s something about the first 600 metres of this route that dictates that at least one car must get stuck in a bowl. It happened to me on our Ramadan visit here, and this time it was Vince’s turn to take the honours!
Fantastic shot of Vince, Karen and I negotiating our way over the dunes between sabkahs (salt flats)
I even got stuck – got to be careful now, don’t want to ruin my score of one stuck every 400kms of offroad driving!
There aren’t so many photos of our second day, but suffice to say, that we all drove 120kms offroad and finished the day off at the “google earth view” plateau.
I have to confess I was a bit overtired, so I took the decision to camp in the desert on the way home away from, but within hollering distance of one of the guard huts (which are stationed at the gates to restricted parts of the desert). I sat and watched for Orionid meteors, chilled out and had a brilliant sleep, all on my own!
Next day, after “checking in” with a friend, giving him my route and expected time to be out of the desert, I returned to Al Ain via the sand track past Haleeba mast.
What’s the attraction I hear you ask? This route passes through some plantations which are actually wildlife reserves, and with the cooler weather I saw many gazelle.
I saw one pick up truck at the plantation, then not another living thing for about 60kms, until I hit the gatch at the Haleeba mast, where I was stopped by a man from the environmental agency.
He was a bit worried about me being out there all on my own, but I reassured him that not only did I have 24 hours food, water and shelter, as well as a phone signal all the way, I was also a better offroad driver than many men! I am not sure he was completely convinced of the last bit, and he insisted I take his phone number in case I ever needed assistance in that area.
And there you have it, lots and lots of kms, covering blacktop, gatch, sandtrack, sabkah and sandunes! How I love Liwa!!!
A big thank you to Susie for being our trip photographer and allowing me to use her great photos in my blog.