200 KM walk to explore the incredible remote vastness of Empty Quarters
A desert cultural experience that is interesting, challenging, and amazing. I challenged myself to do a 200 KM walk to explore The Empty Quarter and chose my companion to be my camel. I started my journey from Sharorah, a city located in south of Saudi Arabia. The inhabitants of that region are known as the Desert People. They have lived all their lives near the desert so hence the name.
Exploring without a goal seems futile, so I gave myself a challenge to do the 200 KM walk of Empty Quarters in 8 days. My original plan was to walk 25 KM every day during the day time.
It all started with a challenge of 200 KM walk from Riyadh to Al Majma’ah and I wanted to do another walk that is closer to how our grandfathers traveled around. On day one, I reached Sharorah via plan and crossed about 90 KM via car into the Empty Quarters. There she was waiting for me “Samha”. My companion for the adventure. She knows the desert better than I do and I couldn’t have asked for a more trusted companion then her. Since my knowledge about dealing with camel is zero, I did hit a few bumps. The desert people gave me a quick briefing about dealing with the camels and when the sun was going down on the first day, I took her for a ride. But the experience was so majestic that I didn’t stop and kept on walking. There I improvised my plan of not walking at night time and I walked 4 hours, 12 KM on the first day. The first night, I was very lucky as I didn’t even use my headlight as it was a full moon. The next few nights were not so bright.
The next morning, I woke up feeling free with one thought, to rush it and start walking. I asked the guys to go ahead and set a camp where I shall be meeting them and I started my journey without the assistance of any device to give me directions. The team traveling via cars made my journey free of hassles. During day time, they would drive 15 KM ahead to setup a camp and prepare meal, and so they will do for the night camp. I also had a photographer who joins me for quick shots and captures my journey to show it to you guys and then rejoins the car team for what I call my isolations time (Fun Time).
I used the sun and the moon to determine the direction because adventure is something you have to find in little things, going completely off the radar until I find the camp. The walking experience overall was stunning as I witnessed the changing atmosphere. The temperature was dropping in an instant… like a light switch from below 0 degrees to high 20’s. The view kept me hooked and motivated me to move further. Coming into hills made of black stones, and then empty lands. The sand of the Empty Quarter is quite unpredictable as you will find hard sand to walk on but at times you will feel that your feet are sinking in the sand deeper. At night time, I get lost as I walked falling in love toward the bright & magnificent moon and after a while, I trace back my steps and found the camp.
Since I never rode on a camel’s back alone before, so I decided to give it a try. I turned off my watch to monitor the kilometers I walked and then jumped on her back. I couldn’t be more wrong and this was not a nice idea I would say. The thing I was sitting on was not tight, so I fell hard. And I spend a lot of time after that chasing my Samha in the desert. In the middle of my journey, I came across two brothers who were driving their water tank to give to their herd’s, and they were kind enough to allow me to shower using their water and it was so refreshing that I can’t even explain it in words, and trust me water is the real gold.
There was a day when I had faced full wind coming from the north. Believe me guys, when you are in a desert, it was no fun to go against the wind. Although, it was very interesting.
Since I improvised on my plan to and started walking at night as well, so I managed to cover the 200 KM distance in merely seven days. I walked 25 KM to 30 KM every day i.e. total of 9 hours. 5 hours during day time and 4 hours at night.
A bit about my companion
Camels are amazing creatures. I have never seen any animal such wonderful as camels and I have always wondered how the desert people love their camel the way they do. The companion I chose made my journey amazing. On the third or fourth day, I started feeling her and she started feeling me. We formed a connection in just three days as we were together all the time. The connection was so strong that I would not eat until I fed her. She would come to wake me up and be like let’s start the journey. In the desert, if a camel is your companion, then she will control you and you have to respect its wishes especially when it comes to sandhills. If your camel seems afraid, don’t force it to go further. This is what I have learned in my quest to explore the remote vastness of Empty Quarters.