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Morning Newbie Desert Drive - Al Qudra to Lisaili Mighty Dunes - Dubai - 2 Oct 2021

Lorenzo Candelpergher

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Dear Desert Wanderers, 

I have seldom seen in almost 15 years in Dubai fog as thick as the one we had today. 

As per plans the convoy was ready to move by 6am but the visibility was so limited that we had nowhere to go.. 

We took advantage of the waiting for a more extended briefing and for a bit of chit-chatting, until, by 6:20am we decided to make our move and to start crossing the sabkha in the hope that the fog would slowly fade away with the rising sun. 

Well, it wasn't the case.. After reaching the far end of the sabkha we had no other option than to stop again waiting for better conditions:


As we stood out of our cars we were all literally wet because of the humidity. 

At around 7:15am the fog was starting to reduce a bit, so it was decided we'd give it a try and see whether we could go ahead. 

The first stuck happened almost immediately, with @Felix Obst's Wrangler crested and requiring a tug, as did, a couple of minutes later another car at the back, not sure who it was. 

After these initial stucks, the convoy picked up the rythm and got accostumed to driving in the fog, as we started playing around the first group of long range dunes, where we had plenty of chances to practice sidesloping and learn how to control fishtailing and how to avoid fighting gravity when momentum is lost.

We spent a good half hour playing around the area, passing by multiple rock formations. I must say I was a bit disappointed: this is usually a very scenic route with all those rocks in view, but the fog really made them look much less spectacular. 

Our spaghetti-styled route, in any case, took full advantage of the area, as you can see from the map below:


We then continued our route further north-east, with progressively increasing visibility, until the sun started shining for real, allowing us to use the terrain to our full advantage. 

The drive was smooth and we had very few refusals and, as far as I can remember, no stucks for quite a while. Everyone was doing great and having fun. 

We drove through three different areas with large dune formations of increasing height and complexity. 


At the end of the 1st of the three areas @Algin Varghese's Pajero started having transmission overheating issues, so we had to stop and let it cool down a bit. As discussed in many forums in @Carnity website, transmission overheating is a very common issue with Pajero, as is the fragility of the rear plastic bumper, prone to easy damaging due to scooping if not protected with a skid plate, as Algin experienced today.

As we moved further north, after a couple more stops due to transmission overheating, this time affecting also @Alexanderrr, we eventually made it to the area of "Lisaili Mighty Dunes", our intended destination for the day.

In the attempt to make it easier for @Algin Varghese to control his overheating issues, the convoy order was changed moving his silver Patrol in position no. 2, as 2nd lead behind me, so that he could drive though less churned upstand and along cleaner lines. 

These majestic dunes offer amazing opportunities for long climbs and swooping rides on often completely virgin sand, all combined with great views which well justify the adjective "mighty" to describe them.

We spent some good time roaming around, occasionally reaching good levels of technical complexity for a Newbie Drive, as witnessed by @Algin Varghese, who had to be tugged once after getting stuck in a nasty pocket and then performed a brilliant self recovery from a tricky crest. 

We certainly didn't miss a sense of adventure and challenge among those impressive dunes.. We even had a thrilling passage descending one by one straight into the bottom of a bowl packed with nearby rocks, but everyone did extremely well in all circumstances. 

As we were preparing to move to the sabkha on the west side, the very last climb of the day turned a simple refusal by @Algin Varghese into a tricky recovery from a patch of very soft sand requiring a two staged winching.

Once the recovery was over it was 10:20am, therefore time to make our exit. Having lost a good hour due to the fog, we couldn't reach as far north as planned, so it was decided to head west along a dirt track to the nearest tarmac road near Lisaili Fort. 

The whole convoy was excellent today:

@Fabien Monleau, you were a perfect 2nd lead, careful and responsive, always acknowledging my directions on the radio and helping me deal with a couple of much needed small reroutings. Bravo! 

@Algin Varghese, you had a hard time today, pushing yourself and your Pajero to the limits. What's good to know is those limits are only temporary: with practice, hesitation on long climbs and sideslopes will fade away, using power a bit more will become more natural and a small skid plate will give you peace of mind when scooping with the back bumper. Also, you'll learn not to rush into action when you are stuck and to take your time to carefully process the instructions received via radio. Overall, very very well done today: you didn't spare yourself for a single second! 

@Waqar.S, coming fresh out of @Brette's Absolute Newbie yesterday, you did very well in 4th position. As with Algin, with experience you'll learn to better control your fishtailing on long slideslopes and to avail to its full potential your capable Wrangler. Congratulations! 

@Felix Obst admittedly found himself often overspeeding on long slideslopes, which took him very close to the car ahead. Maybe leaving some more space will help you overcome this issue. As with most of today's drivers, you'll have to work on your fishtailing refining countersterring and throttle usage. For the rest, great drive! 

@Serafino, you surfed today's dunes super smoothly. I know you were hoping for more action and more dunes, but this was a Newbie Drive and pushing it more than we did would have meant asking too much.

I had limited visibility of the rear part of the convoy, so I'll let @Jeepieadd more comments about what she could see from the back abour @jeetu sharma, @Mohammed Mansoor, @Alexanderrr and @Sanjay Malik I however noticed a lot of fishtailing (certainly made more difficult to control due to the churned up sand) and convoy distancing not always sufficient, especially during long slideslopes. Apart from that everyone did very well, congrats! 

@Adhir Saxena, second last in today's convoy, you quietly but effectively led your Pajero through all challenges. Very well done: I know it was a piece of cake for you, as you are way more experienced than this, but the churned sand at the back didn't make it any easier. 

Overall we spent 4h 15' on the sand, of which 2h 38' moving and and 1h 38' stopped. Considering we held for almost 50' due to the fog, this means we really lost minimal time throughout the drive thereof. We covered 50.8km, with an average moving speed of 19.3km.

Congratulations to everyone for a brilliant drive and special thanks to @Jeepie for her precious support. Knowing I had you at the back made me feel way more relaxed. 

See you again in the sand! 

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Indeed it was a great drive today. Even with the delay caused by the fog, I must accept it was fun and a great learning opportunity. Thanks for the fantastic lead @Lorenzo Candelpergher and giving us those fab instructions and occasional viewing of the rock formations :) 

Thanks a lot to @Jeepie to the superb guidance you provided in the small refusals. Helped me get out in a jiffy.

A special thanks to the rest of the convoy for being such amazing team! I’ll update the gallery with the pictures I got.

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