The Syrian Desert
London to Kathmandu Trip 1999
We were in Syria and had left the spectacular ruins of Palmyra behind us. We travelled along a metalled road before branching off and heading north across the Syrian Desert. The tracks disappeared and at times it seemed like we were floating across a sea of sand as we sped into the horizon. We rough camped for the night amid a cluster of sand dunes, and as we prepared our evening meal (whilst it was still daylight), I took a walk up the nearest dune to take a bearing. While up there, I looked across the horizon and saw an unusually large and dark cloud formation in the distance. I checked the map then happened to glance up again at the cloud formation. This time however I noticed that not only was it much closer, but everything above and below it was blacked out, just as if someone had turned off the lights behind it. I ran back to the truck only to hear the other driver shouting "SANDSTORM", and as I glanced over my shoulder, I saw a wall of sand almost upon us. I just had time to dive onto the back of the truck before it struck and the lights literally went out. Outside was maelstroms of swirling sand that we could do nothing about other than sit, and wait.
We lost two tents that we had no time to gather and found the ground scattered with scorpions when we finally reemerged from the truck some 3 hours later.