07-Feb-2003 -- In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, instead of a scattering of 1-2 day public holidays through the year there are two 5-7 day breaks, for the celebrations at the end of Ramaḍān and at the climax of the Ḥajj. Residents thus have the opportunity to make a long trip, either inside or outside the country. Our group of eight chose to visit the western edge of the Empty Quarter, with four of us extending the trip to 10 days with a similarly off-tarmac (although not as sandy) visit to the centre of the country. The 10 day round trip was 1,300 km off road, plus another 1,700 km on tarmac positioning the vehicles. We visited 8 Confluences, four in a square on the western side of the Empty Quarter (20N 46E, 20N 47E, 19N 47E, and 19N 46E), one in the adjacent "triangle" defined by the surrounding tarmac roads (18N 45E), and three in the central plateau region (21N 44E, 22N 43E, and 23N 43E).
We reached our first Confluence on day two. Most of the distance had been on tarmac, culminating in loading as much fuel and water as we could at the last petrol stations, most at one we knew, and the last sips in one we had spotted being built the previous year. The final approach of about 50 km off road was a gentle introduction to the Empty Quarter. As we knew we were to spend several days in the sand we reduced our tyre pressures to about 20 psi (1.4 bar) as soon as the going got soft, and this gave us an un-laboured ride over an undulating sandy plain, with views of the ergs (lines of higher sand dunes) just to the South. The Confluence itself was in an easily reached valley between ergs. We took a group photograph while at lunch at the Confluence.
Continued at 20N 47E.