Expedition: Umm As Sameem and Empty Quarter

Last week I blogged about our upcoming Rub Al Khali and Umm As Sameem Trip, a two and a half day, two night tour to one of the most remote areas in Oman.

Just south of the Umm As Sameem, in fact all over the southern empty quarter, there are many dune massifs, locally called “quaids” which are set on a huge gravel plain – when you look south the gravel appears grey yet heading north it looks white!  The dunes are affectionately nicknamed “starfish” dunes due to their multi directional slipfaces and bowls; they rise majestically from the sabkah and stand up to 80 metres high and their unusual shape is created by multi-directional winds.  As this is expedition driving we will be driving round them rather than attempt to drive over them!

So what is expedition/overland driving?

  • Overlanding has a clear aim
    • Ours is to explore the Umm As Sameem and also the eastern reaches of the Rub Al Khali, the Empty Quarter.
  • Invariably these routes are a long way from civilisation, so leaders always exercise caution when choosing their route.
    • At one point we will be over 200 kms from the nearest car repair facilities, shops and other services!
  • Expedition driving is not about showing off to see who can climb the highest on a dune, or drive the fastest over the sabkah
    • Adrenaline junkies might not like this style of trip
  • Overlanding is about appreciating the topography and nature of the area
    • The Empty Quarter is not quite as empty as you may expect; there are a few birds and insects
    • The dunescape you will be driving through is both unique and spectacular
  • Expedition driving takes a relatively easy line to ensure all cars return to the blacktop at the end of the trip in good condition.
    • This goes for both 4×4 and AWD convoys on our expedition
  • Overland driving may not plough through the most challenging terrain but this is no weekly drive to the supermarket!
    • On our trip there will be “real” offroad driving for the 4x4s and the AWDs will have to deflate their tyres a bit to get across the white gravel plains!
  • Expedition driving inevitably covers cars in dust and maybe mud.
    • After visiting the largest sand dune desert in the world you can expect to take home a few kgs of sand in your car and your shoes too!

Here is a tiny section of our planned path for 4x4s  – there are large areas of easy driving over gravel but also plenty of short dune crossings which are likely to be tricky and technical.

And for AWDs we will skirt around the foot of the quaid dunes and also explore a rocky escarpment.

If you would like to join us on our amazing Rub Al Khali and Umm As Sameem Expedition please email marina@desertdivaevents.com.  You can find out more information by reading my previous blog here or by downloading our presentation here.  Any further questions?  Please just ask.

 

 

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