Eight years ago, I remember doing a presentation to the Land Rover PR and advertising agencies about an expedition covering the footsteps of the explorer, Sir Wilfred Thesinger. In the mid 1900′s, Thesinger twice walked the Empty Quarter, one of the largest deserts in the world encompassing Oman, Saudi Arabia and what is now the UAE. With a small caravan of camels and for months on end, he covered 1,500km of desert wilderness on foot, immersing himself with the locals throughout the journey.
Sir Wilfred sadly passed away nine years ago but he left with us a great source of inspiration and lot’s of nice books; the very same books and old maps that inspired me to pitch the idea for an overland trip in the Liwa Oasis.
In my head it was going to be amazing, the agencies loved it and through the Land Rover network, the idea landed at the Royal Geographic Society in London. It consequently transpired that Thesinger hated cars so association with a luxury 4×4 brand was no suitable match for his earlier explorations. Plans were shelved and I left disappointed but as luck would have it, I now find myself back on the Thesinger Track.
The UAE adventurer, Adrian Hayes, is currently planning a ‘Footsteps of Thesinger’ expedition, a seed first planed during his Oman-based military days over 20 years ago. No stranger to adventure, Adrian has summited Everest, travelled overland to both South and North Pole and kited on ski’s across Greenland.
I’ve long admired Adrian’s explorations. We’ve even done a short expedition race together and I’ve trailed him during the Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge. His ‘Footstep of Thesinger’ expedition is truly original; traveling on foot in authentic gear, equipped, as they would have been in the 1950’s, with camels and two Emirati’s friends.
I’ll be intermittently covering the expedition from the end of October. The journey will take around 40 days and we’ll be hooking up in some of the most remote and scenic corners of the route. We’re working out the logistics now, analysing maps, closely studying Google Earth and … for my part, putting thought into a future coffee table book. I’ve also found myself returning to Thesinger’s book, Arabian Sands. I have to know what kind of camera her used; certainly not a DSLR.
More to come in the weeks that follow.