Desert Safari – Checklist To Keep Faith In The Wilderness
When faced with options between traveling to the sea and traveling to the mountains, what would you choose? The swell of a sea or the arrogant mountains? Or do you choose a third option of traveling to the sea of sands and mountains of dunes? Anybody can walk along an existing route, lay at the beach sipping their mojito, or trek along the trails that have been marked from repeated thumping. But how many can dare to step into the endless wilderness of unknown and unseen and carve a road for themselves? Because everybody desires to explore the world, but it takes a little more than just wanderlust to take the desert head on.
At desert, conditions change quickly; you’ll be neck-deep in danger even before you know it and it will all be very overwhelming. Deserts are toughest not because of extreme heat, but because of the scarcity of water, therefore, most of its expanse throughout the world remain inhabitable. The only people that have made it there are the nomadic, barbaric tribes. And we have learned only from the best, the things that you need to pack while on a desert safari.
Car camping or backpacking, these are the things that you entirely MUST keep handy:
- Gears and Utilities
- Huge Movable Shelters – Highly recommended for the backpackers. Once in a while, in the midst of unsheltered terrain, you’ll need to sit down, take a break and be protected from the harmful UV rays, before hitting the next couple of miles.
- Sleeping Bag – The trick is to bring right kind of bag for the right kind of temperature. For incredibly hot summer nights, get a lightweight, breathable bag. However, to reduce cold spots, opt for light, compact and well-insulated bag.
- Silk Bag liner – In case of rented sleeping bags or for an extra layer of warmth, this is a must-have.
- Walking Sticks – Given the difficulty in climbing up dunes, where you tend to slip back more than you step forward walking sticks are good support and balance provider.
- Shades – Here, wearing shades is more necessity than a luxury to protect yourself from blindness or irreversible disorders. Opt for the ones providing maximum UV protection and maximum visible light blockage. Extra pair of contact lens (if you’re using one) to prevent sand corns during sandstorms.
- Headlamp/Flash-tubes/Torch – Carry a small, light-weight, waterproof, durable headlamp or such preferably with multiple runtimes for those murky nights.
- Swiss Army Knife, Emergency Whistle, and Compass
The thumb rule is to wear light-colored/reflective and full-length clothes for the harsh days and warm clothes for the cold nights.
- Basic clothes – Long-sleeved cotton/linen top wear and cargo pants to avoid rashes and protection from the extreme sun.
- Outerwear – Fleece/windbreaker jacket for tougher nights when the temperature can plunge to freezing point. Broad-brimmed hats to protect from sun strokes. Cotton scarves to protect from sandstorms and dust. Gloves.
- Shoes – Extra pair of hiking socks to escape from sweat. Hiking boots for protection from the hot ground as well as sharp/heavy rocks. Gaiters to prevent sand from entering your boots. Talcum powder to absorb moisture.
- Hygiene and Sanitation
While desert camping, one has to get used to the idea of having rare or no sanitary facilities like flush toilets or running water.
- Hand Sanitizer
- Baby wipes/wet wipes/wet washcloths – To freshen up or also to clean up body parts that sweat excessively. Personal sanitation is a must to prevent skin rashes and blisters in extreme weather.
- Small Towels – To wipe away sweat or even for rare occasions where you get a chance to wash yourself.
- Sunblocks and Lip Balms – (minimum SPF 30) to take care of skin from damaging UV rays and sunburns. For sunscreen, circular UVA logo and at least 4 star UVA protection is a necessity.
- After Sun Lotion – In times you’re already sunburnt, use sunburn treatment to restore skin elasticity and provide moisture boost.
- Drugs and Medication
#MUST KEEP - Medication and First Aid For Pre-existing Medical Conditions.
- First Aid Kit – Plasters and sterile wound cleaning gauzes in different sizes. Crepe bandages. Sterile eye dressings. Disposable sterile gloves. Alcohol-free wipes. Thermometer. Safety pins. Scissors. Tweezers for cactus spines.
- Insect Repellant – to avoid sand flies from giving you difficult blistering bites.
- Antihistamines/Insect bite treatment – To provide relaxation and comfort from different allergies and relief from insect bites/stings.
- Painkillers – Paracetamol, ibuprofen, aspirin, and morphine are good options to keep handy.
- Antiseptic cream
COUNTRY DEFINITE ADVICE – Depending on the country of safari carry with you: Anti-diarrhea/ Rehydration sachets to prevent or treat dehydration. Anti-Malaria medication. Water Disinfectant.
(Use medicines within proper expiry date).
Even though hunting wild animals for proteins, may seem uber fascinating on television, what it doesn’t say is the energy it consumes in catching the animal takes up way more calories than you ever consume on eating the same. You tend to lose up to a litre of water per hour even without noticing. In the dry weather, when you sweat, and the wind hits you, it immediately dries you and results in more sweat, thereby, dehydrating causing fatigue, nausea, and dizziness. While food is essential, water is an even bigger priority.
- Water bottles and hydration bladder
Even though carrying water bottles are difficult especially if your hands are pre-occupied, it is still recommended as a spare container and also, to purify water as and when needed. Hydration bladders are preferred because it is handy and can be drunk out of a tube, over your shoulder. Carry as much water as possible with the recommended level being 4L per day at the desert.
In the desert, even the tiniest of morsel helps. However, the kind of food being consumed directly steers the need for water. So avoid salty snacks. In fact replace it with high energy snacks like protein bars, dry fruits and nuts. Don’t bring alcoholic beverages because even they can lead to loss of water from the body.
Lastly, in spite of the stuff that you packed and the things you couldn’t, facing the sandstorms, the extreme heat, the extreme cold, the scarcity of water, the toxicity, the barren land, the blinding rays, when you are lost and then find your way back again, you know you had the hidden strength you never knew existed.