My Favourite Abandoned Water Tanker: 2020 Update

I’ve been visiting THE tanker for 8 years – and how it has changed/deteriorated in that time!  It was lying in the desert for many years before that however, here’s a screen grab from google earth 2001 (the first survey of the area).  Read on and see the changes the brutual UAE desert has wreaked upon it!

Produced by Oshkosh in the 1970s, many of these trucks were imported into the UAE to facilitate oilfield operations.  This one apparently ended up as a farms water tanker, and I have been told it belongs to a Mr Al Mazroui – never had the pleasure of meeting him tho!

February 2012

The first visit!  I could hardly believe my eyes when it came into sight!  I was on a driving job and this was one of the first waypoints!


April 2012:

We returned with a mechanic but apparently it is a lost cause!  We also opened up the space on the side for corporate advertising!  Pics taken by Jane Koester and Klaus Strickmann.

August 2012:

I decided that posing next to the tanker for a photo was “so last year” and decided that future shots would see me atop it!  This picture was taken at 7am during Ramadan, on a series of two-car drives which were our summer holiday.


October 2012:

I couldn’t keep away from it – I organised the Virgins & Veterans trip to introduce my friend Mike aka Duckmeister to Liwa and of course I had to include the tanker.


Feb 2013:

I left it alone for four months until once more on a driving job we stopped by and I took the opportunity to add a Scotland sticker.


March 2013:

It makes a perfect backdrop for a picnic!


May 2013:

I took a group from Oasis Offroad out to visit as part of our Desert Rose trip.

May 2013:

On the last day of the month we braved 42C temps to drive from MZ to Ghayathi, pausing for a picture. Photo by Amer, aka “Someone In Al Ain”.


September 2013:

We passed by on the Blood, Sweat and Tears trip when I tried, and failed, to prove a moderate route between the fodder farm and the fish farm


December 2014

The tanker had sunk down considerably in the 15 months since my last visit


After leaving it along for such a long time, it was only three weeks til my next visit! I organised a New Year’s Day Oasis Offroad trip in the area and of course, my favourite waypoint had to be visited! Photo by Donna Reynolds.



May 2015:

I wonder how many friends I have dragged out here?  Yet another Oasis Offroad trip


Fast forward to Feb 2016.  Driving job, waypoint etc.  Photo credit Paul Robida.


March 2016 – it was my great pleasure to introduce a fellow desert enthusiast, Pavel of Moto Desert Rides to the Oshkosh.


Possibly the first time Rahhal had visited it!


December 2016

It stood there, all alone and neglected for 9 months, until I included it in my National Day Weekend tag-a-long tour. Photo by Dan Wantanabe.


Late December 2016

Having found a relatively easy, yet indirect way to the tanker I could not resist a return visit on another tag-a-long tour just a week before Christmas. Photo by Jay

Christmas Eve 2016

My hubby and I took our cars and dashed out to the tanker, just in time for sunset.  Having been inspired by the Coca Cola Holiday Truck adverts, we thought we would do our own holiday truck, desert style.  Packing some led lights, power inverter and camping gear and of course our hounds, we made camp overnight so we could wake up in the desert on Christmas Day.

As soon as we arrived our dogs had a feast on someone else’s leftover biriyani – and I picked up one full  black bag of rubbish!  Please desert drivers, clean up after your picnics and BBQs!

We decided we would definitely camp near there again but a little further away from the tanker – even small gusts of wind make the it creak and howl in a ghostly way***.

December 2017

My next visit was at Christmas 2017, when my small convoy of experienced drivers took a swift run out as part of my “Camels and Culture” trip, for a photocall at the tanker!  Great pic by Gwendal.

A few visits were made in 2018; this, one of my favourite tanker photos, was taken by Heather, on a trip where almost all the participants were Scottish (and the one who wasn’t, is an honorary Scot!)

October 2018

After our noisy night camping next to the tanker on Christmas Eve 2016, we dreamed up a special themed trip – ***the Halloween Spooktankular!  One of our friends headed out before us and installed Mr Bones in the driver’s seat!  We had the usual BBQ supplemented with Halloween games, sweeties and other treats (did you know that Halloween is a BIG thing in Scotland!)


We had a lot of fun with Mr Bones on subsequent visits…

March 2019

We organised a few more trips during the winter of 2018/19, this fab drone pic was taken by Kinloch

September 2019

Having planned to spend May-November in my native Scotland, I had to return briefly to the UAE, to do of all things, open a bank account for my new company, Xpedition Arabia!  My friend Alasdair loaned me his FJ and the call of the tanker was strong…..


November 2019

Saw me on a solo trip out to the tanker with my Omani hire car, just before my UAE National Day trip – routes have to be tested you know! 

January 2020

As soon as I picked up my new car, I took her out to meet the Oshkosh!  I camped there and had a most beautiful moonlit night, with light cirrocumulus (?) clouds casting shadows on the dunes.

March 2020

Our last forays out to the Oshkosh for a while due to the covid-19 lockdown

How many years will the tanker remain visible? Only time will tell! Looking forward to the day I can lead groups back there again!

Note: Please do not ask me for my route in to the tanker. I have developed an interesting, relatively easy path in, with a few interesting stops and waypoints; however as a desert guide my routes are the tools of my trade, so I hope you understand why I do not share them. Thank you.

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