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).
After a hearty lunch at the 20N 46E confluence point we set off directly East towards this confluence point. The going was pretty easy as the dune lines ran pretty well East – West and we were able to travel on the undulating sand plains between these lines. The dunes lines periodically petered out, which gave us the opportunity to re-direct our journey in a more easterly direction.
The wind erodes the sand into small wave formations in the synclines among the undulations. Although these "waves" are not more than a foot deep, they produce the washboard effect of a gravel road and cannot be avoided sometimes. Driving over these with deflated tyres, which is essential for un-laboured sand driving, provided some comfort, but the teeth jarring was still unpleasant.
The actual Confluence was in one of the synclines mentioned above. Over the top of the undulations we could see some medium height dune lines and horizon-to-horizon sand.
Continued at 19N 47E.