05-Mar-2007 -- Continued from 25N 14E.
It was a real challenge to get there! Situated right in the centre of the Idhān Murzuq, also called 'Sand Sea of Murzuq', it's more than 100 km away from any edge of the dune area.
Starting from al-Qaṭrūn we approached from the East. The altitude of the sand dunes increases steadily, some rise up 200 m from the valleys. The more you get to the Northwest of the Sand Sea, the more you find the impressive big 'Star Dunes' - so called because seen from the air they look like stars with their long sharp ridges pointing to the summit. It's a beautiful sight and a challenge to drive here with a car. There are no pistes or tracks to follow - you have to explore your way across the sand mountains. Sand ladders, heavy duty ropes and even a winch are useful tools to get through.
Today flora and fauna is very rare here, but not too far back in history this country was inhabited. Although probably 4 to 6 thousand years old, we found Neolithic stone grinding plates and ostrich egg shells lying on the sand surface, just like having been left there only some months ago. Close to the confluence site my GPS showed a remaining distance of only 600 m, when a huge dune with a high ridge, its soft side against us, blocked the way. It was hard to estimate by eye, but the precise Google Earth satellite maps indicated that the Confluence was not on top of this dune but on the slope on other side. So we had to find a passage around the dune. One suggested to walk the remaining distance. This probably would have been faster...
The last long slope with soft sand in the lower part culminating in a small but steep and sharp ridge could be mastered only by speeding full power through the soft ascent and braking at a precise split second short before shooting over the ridge. With luck and some experience you end up sitting on top of the ridge with the car pointing slightly downhill. All 3 cars managed the task (plus many more of the same kind that were to come later) and minutes later we celebrated the arrival at this valuable confluence point.