06-Dec-2008 -- We visited this Confluence on the 3rd day of a 6-day trip that attempted both this point and 22N 55E. These are the last two unvisited points situated in the large star dunes of Saudi Arabia's eastern Rub` al-Khāliy Desert not located near the border where visitation is restricted by the Border Patrol. We began to plan this trip 10 months ago immediately after returning from a 5-day trip that successfully visited 22N 54E, but failed to reach 22N 55E. Confluence chasing has become our excuse to spend time in this unique and spectacular environment of giant sand dunes.
Our trip began at our domicile of Ẓahrān, Saudi Arabia in the early morning of 4 December 2008. We covered over 700 km of tarmac roads to reach the outpost of Šābita, where we topped off our fuel tanks and aired down to begin sand driving. Our party consisted of 5 Land Cruisers and one FJ Cruiser. Each of us began the off-road portion of our route with over 360 liters of fuel on board. We made our way about 40 km south along a Bedouin thoroughfare called the Kidan Trail before making camp in some 10-20 meter high barchan dunes.
On day 2, we continued to follow the Kidan Trail for another 100 km south before turning to the southeast and forging our own path. As we had done on our earlier trips, we scouted our route pre-trip using Google Earth and created a set of waypoints and a track along our selected course for use as navigational aids. The Kidan Trail is in an area completely covered by sand dunes. East of Kidan the geography changes into an extensive sabkha covered with ridges made up of over 150 meter high complex dunes trending to the east/southeast. This creates a basin and range topography alternating between orange/red sand ridges and exceptionally flat, gray sabkhas covered in dust. We ended the day about 20 km west of 21N 54E in a fine dune camp overlooking a large sabkha.
The next morning, we reached 21N 54E by 8:30 a.m. to discover it was positioned about 150 meters up the smooth slip-face of a large star dune looming above the untracked sabhka. Scrambling up lose sand avalanching down the front of this bulky dune was tiring but we were eager to reach the confluence point after over two full days of driving. After our requisite photos, we did not linger long before we were back in the vehicles and on our way to the elusive 22N 55E confluence.