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09 The Arkakus high-plateau with rock-paintings and relief-style rock-drawings
The Arkakus high-plateau with rock-paintings and relief-style rock-drawings

After we left behind the pathetic suburbs of the town we found the tracks to the Arkakus area N25°46,538' - E10° 34.523'. Several hours of relatively boring, dusty driving followed until we arrived at a place with bizarre, huge stone blocks.

The following day we visited rock paintings and stone carvings in different places. Some of the rock paintings were destroyed by an act of revenge by a local tourist guide. He sprayed graffiti on the culture treasures, more than likely they can't ever be removed.

While passing beautiful dunes we had a race with galloping camels, further passing a desert mosque made of arranged stones. The desert makes spartan, even the praying.

In one of the repeatedly passing police stations, we filled our water tanks before we set up our camp in a beautiful canyon.

In celebration of the 24th December, we hiked through the canyon where we had to climb through narrow cracks. Gert and Karl are Austrian-trained canyon guides, supported by Hannes they secured us inexperienced climbers with a safety rope. Now I understood why canyon climbing is fascinating.

All helped together to safely place with my camera equipment, in order to photograph the nature's beauty.

The name of my co-driver Spalti (crack) and the identical size of his chest and a 22 cm wide crack, which allowed him to just get through, sparked our creativity. The "new" unit "Spalti" was born. Climbing obviously keeps one young and fit; Gert is 57 years old and measures two, Karl is 64 years old and measures nearly two and a half "Spalti". Even Hannes with just 80 years on his back, measures two well-trained "Spalti". Hard to believe. My own almost three Spalti "can be measured below the rib cage.

We visited some cave paintings and crossed a large dune with a huge sandstone arch in the background, as a worthy end to the Arkakus route, in the late afternoon. On the way to the northeast some pink dunes passed by. These were the last beautiful pictures before getting to a long and dusty part of our journey.

Increasingly the landscape got Wild West character with its almost endless high plains. One could believe to be in the USA. We never had a lack of cozy campgrounds. On Christmas Eve, Bernard and Ina invited us to a special Christmas dinner with smoked sausages and sauerkraut. Each one of us got a cold beer. What a feast in the desert! Of course, the meager landscape animated to reflectiveness.

An alternative route to reach the Arkakus area from the south, is to drive from Margredeth on the southern route to Ghat and then east, instead of driving through Al Awaynat.