Physical demands and (lack of) comfort
These trips are physically challenging so you have to be (normally) fit. We sometimes have to get out of the cars to scout the terrain and walk or climb the sand dunes. If (i.e. when) you get stuck, you (and the others) will have to dig and push which is very tiring in 35-40 degrees (95F – 105F) of midday sun. The tents are relatively comfortable but it’s no fluffy Hilton boxspring. Tip: bring your own pillow!
In the desert there are no sanitary facilities. The sand is your toilet and we have to minimise water for washing. Not discouraged yet hopefully?
Risks and safety
The main risk is the absence of immediate medical aid in the desert. Even with a satellite phone to hand, help can take a day or longer to arrive. We carry an Iridium satellite phone with a subscription for GEOS Search and Rescue (SAR) covering every participant (in case of emergency we will contact GEOS in Houston TX, who liaise 24/7 with local authorities or private parties for SAR). Safe driving is the norm: Always follow the crew’s instructions. Sometimes this means that our crew cars are first and last in the convoy.
Getting lost in the desert is not an option which is why we spend a lot of time preparing the routes. We also have the best navigation equipment and never rely solely on one device. See also the section on route planning and navigation.
Oman is a very, very safe country. We meet very few people in the desert but, when we do, the locals are always very friendly.
The Rub Al Khali desert is a pristine wilderness untouched by man. We want to keep it this way so we minimize our traces and never leave garbage in the open field. We buy wood (very nice smelling, by the way) in the towns and we never cut a tree or bush; the rare trees in the desert can take hundreds of years to grow.