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Following the footsteps of Thesiger into an endless wilderness of shifting sands

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Back in 2012 adventurers Alastair Humphreys and Leon McCarron set out on a self-supported journey, dragging a fully laden cart across the Empty Quarter Desert, the largest sand desert in the world, known for being particularly challenging and inhospitable.

The Empty Quarter is a place that has intrigued adventurers for centuries. Famous explorers such as Wilfred Thesiger and Bertram Thomas have been drawn to explore its arid wilderness. Over 1000km long and 500km wide, it is sited on the Arabian Peninsular and is part of the larger Arabian Desert.

Alastair Humphreys had long held a dream to follow in the footsteps of Thesiger and make a crossing of The Empty Quarter, and enlisted Leon McCarron who had recently walked over 3000 miles across central Asia. Deciding that camels were not the best choice of transport, (too expensive and they knew nothing about them) they designed their own cart which they intended to pull themselves, carrying the supplies they would need for the six week journey in some of the harshest conditions on the planet. Many challenges ensued, beginning with the problematic cart, as the film documents in an evocative and often amusing tale of a true adventure into the unknown.

Wilfred Thesiger was an icon of British adventure, he was one of my heroes.

The Empty Quarter (Rub al Khali to give its Arabic name) covers a total area larger than France. The journey undertaken by Alastair and Leon covered 1000 miles of desert, beginning in Salalah on the south coast of Oman, and ending in “the madness of Dubai.” The film has since achieved many accolades at adventure film festivals.

Into the Empty Quarter
Alastair Humphreys and Leon McCarron

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Alastair Humphreys


Alastair Humphreys

Alastair Humphreys is a British Adventurer and Author. He spent over 4 years cycling round the world, a journey of 46,000 miles through 60 countries and 5 continents. More recently Alastair has walked across southern India, rowed across the Atlantic Ocean, run six marathons through the Sahara desert, completed a crossing of Iceland, busked through Spain and participated in an expedition in the Arctic, close to the magnetic North Pole. He has trekked 1000 miles across the Empty Quarter desert and 120 miles round the M25 – one of his pioneering microadventures. He was named as one of National Geographic’s Adventurers of the year for 2012.

Alastair has written 12 books and is a patron of these charities:

Youth Adventure Trust
Hope and Homes for Children
Outdoor Swimming Society
Yorkshire Dales Society
Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust

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