On Wednesday 22nd January 2014 , 8 women made modern day adventure history by being the first and only team from the UAE and Asia to cross the Wahiba Sands from North to South over 4 and a half days. Organized by Jules Lewis of Mountain High in association with Mark Evans MBE of Outward Bound Oman and supported by Etihad ( official airline ) and BOTH ( great team fleeces and buffs ! ) the expedition was a true test of resilience !
Team members originated from South Africa, America, the UK and the UAE - all resident in Dubai and Abu Dhabi with one team member flying in from Hong Kong to join the team.
Jules Lewis ( Johara ) , Jacqui Cracknell ( Zafirah ) flew the flag for Britain.
Atay Al Mari and Bodour Al Tamimi flew the UAE flag .
Jody Ballard ( Jabrayah ) and Karin Malmstrom ( Ishana ) flew the flag for the USA
Anna Heystek ( Janan ) and Ilana Meyar ( Jamilla ) flew the flag for South Africa
Together the team were united in the spirit of adventure with a mission to complete the journey to highlight the strength and spirit of women ; to honour past explorers and spirited bedouins , to cherish the present and to inspire the future ( fees paid to make the crossing will cover the cost of Omani girls and boys on a 4 day Outward Bound Oman training course )
Covering 115.5km by foot ( an average of 23km daily ) we had a GPS to guide us along with a local bedouin guide and camel man – desert wisdom and modern technology joined forces to pave the way for an incredible journey across the dunes. We team carried our own water and food and camped out each evening , eating around a camp fire under a star filled sky . Major supplies were transported by a trusty Toyota pick up truck driven by Outward Bound instructors Mohammed and Jawaher.
The opportunity to connect with nature , rise with the sun , sleep under the moon and stars and truly switch off from city life was a gift to be treasured. Communication was conversation and as we walked across , through and over the dunes we shared laughter , wisdom , smiles , blister packs, trail mix. Silence and time for reflection weaved in and out of our days …. and just when we needed a boost Saleem ( our camel man and bedouin guide ) would break into song – arabic poems speaking of love and re-uniting with family.
Meeting Omani bedouin families along the way added spice and a strong community feel to our expedition – needless to say we all enjoyed buying traditional hand made goods from stalls set up in the middle of nowhere and one evening we were treated to a meal of fish and rice brought to the camp from one of the settlements.
Taking the north to south route gave us the added incentive of walking towards the sea - each day we got closer to the coastline and spent out last camp out on the beach before the drive back to Muscat where hot showers , real beds and fluffy white towels awaited us!
Thanks to all the team members for saying YES to the explorer within them, to the Outward Bound team for logistic support , to Etihad for flying us to Muscat and to BOTH for the great fleeces , to Lucy Taylor of the Travel Show at 103..8 for a call into the station from our Satellite phone .. and to all our friends and family for being with us in spirit along the way .
Here’s to many more adventures and making history … courage is like a muscle … start walking to strengthen it every day !