24 July 2024

We’re approaching the Red Sea region now and the land is more fertile and thus more populated. Overlanding is new in Saudi; indeed, we’re the first ever to have travelled through this area. There are also no dedicated campsites with facilities as in Africa and Europe. Our method of finding a site for the night is to pull into a likely looking spot and hope for the best. This generally works in unpopulated areas. Occasionally the military or police will come to check us out.

This camp progressed as usual. We setup the kitchen, started food prep and pitched our tents. Then a guy came along and said we couldn’t camp here, it’s private property. We could if we paid him 10 Rial an hour, about €2.50. He said he would call the police if we didn’t. He didn’t look Arab so we politely told him to sling his hook. About 30mins later, the police arrived. We negotiated a fee of 100 Rial for the night, about €25, and everyone was happy.

We were at an elevation of 2750 metres and inside the clouds. The sky looked dark and threatening and once sunset came, the temperature plummeted. Spots of rain started dropping out of the sky. Ominous thunder was crashing nearby. We thought, oops, this might be a difficult night. But it wasn’t. The rain stopped, or never really started. The dark clouds disappeared and the sky started clearing. But it kept getting colder. We lit a fire but the wood was very dense and heavy hardwood and took ages to catch. We hadn’t that much of it anyway. As soon as we had dinner and a cuppa tea, most ambled off to their tents.

By the way, the tea here is shite. I was going to bring 250 Barry’s Teabags with me but thought, don’t be silly, there’s plenty of tea in Arabia. How wrong was I. But, we adjust and adapt. I use 2 or 3 teabags instead of 1 and let it steep for 5 mins or until its the colour of 100yo seasoned teak.

I went to my tent at around 7.30pm ish and watched an episode of Dr Who on my tablet as well as some other shorts I had downloaded onto my tablet. I then read my Kindle and went to sleep at around 9.30pm-ish.

During the night, the temperature dropped a lot. I checked my phone this morning and it said 4°C with a real feel of 1°. That’s cold.

I was warm as toast though. I brought my 4 season down sleeping bag instead of my summer one. I also brought a silk liner which can add an extra season onto the sleeping bag. I woke up at 1:30-ish feeling cold but this was because my sleeping bag had slipped off my shoulders; I hadn’t fully zipped it up. Once I did, and pulled the drawstring to keep the heat in, I was snug as a bug in a rug.

This is the highest elevation I can remember ever being at. I don’t notice any symptoms of altitude sickness but maybe it’s not high enough yet.

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