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Old 25 Jun 2007
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surviving the sahara: real stories wanted

Hello, Discovery's survival series 'Man V Wild' is off to the Sahara in Morocco. i'm looking to find out about real and extraordinary stories of people surviving or those that havn't whilst crossing the Sahara. They will be incorporated in the programme. Any help would be welcome. Many thanks Vicki
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Old 25 Jun 2007
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Originally Posted by vicki hinners View Post
...people surviving or those that havn't whilst crossing the Sahara. ...
This list is disturbingly devoid of people who didn't make it out there.
Roman (UK)

Last edited by Roman; 25 Jun 2007 at 22:20.
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Old 25 Jun 2007
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My Citroen broke down in the South of Morocco coinciding with a bout of copious and explosive diorreah. Might not make great telly though...



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Old 25 Jun 2007
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Sorry to add a note of cynicism but there are countless stories out there of daring and survival in the Sahara and given the fact that your presenter is ex SAS he should know some of the legendary tales in the regimental history books going back to pre SAS days with the LRDG. (Morocco probably isn't the best place but yes, its easy to film there.)

One of the (many) problems with telly today is the inability/reluctance/shortage of time to do original research in the expectation that others will do it for you.

It sounds harsh I know, but I should know - I work in telly making documentaries - and there are plenty of people here on this forum who can come up with ideas and stories that will fit your brief but then so can you without leaving the comfort of your computer. Or going to the library. Or watching a couple of carefully chosen films. Or...

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Old 25 Jun 2007
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you can read my survival story at desertbiking

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Old 3 Jul 2007
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Hello Vicki,
I sent you a PM.
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Old 4 Jul 2007
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Chris Scott

Go to Chris Scott's homepage (Sahara Overland) he is the King of Sahara travel these days and will have a fistfull of stories.
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Old 4 Jul 2007
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Man v Wild

Hi Vicki
I don’t collect tragic tales but the following might remind us, if we need reminding, of some of the demands of desert travel.
I have been lost for 2 days, while travelling alone in a 48,000km desert plain, and it is not a happy experience.
1) The most chilling story of a failed desert expedition was the story of ‘Lady-Be-Good’, a wartime Liberator aeroplane which ran out of fuel and crash- landed in the south of Libya in 1943.
On my last trip in November ‘06 we camped in the same gravel plain, a short way off from the crash site.
The plain is locked between the Kalansho Sand Sea and the Ribiana Sands, a huge expanse of emptiness that held it’s sad secret for so long.
The Crew believed they were near the coast, and walked north, a tragic error.
They entered the Kalansho Sand Sea (which we had just driven through) – and they never came out.
Their bravely written diaries told of extremes of malnutrition and dehydration as each one died between 8 and 12 days after the crash landing.
The bodies were not found for seventeen years. One is still there in the sands.
For those of us who travel the desert brandishing our GPS and Satellite telephones, we should not forget that the desert forgives no one, and that our survival time, in the event of mishap, error or mechanical breakdown is numbered in days, not weeks.
A brief description of the 'Lady be Good' story is here.
"Lady Be Good" B-24 Bomber, Quartermaster Graves Registration Search and Recovery
There is also a very good book currently available. It’s called ‘Lady’s Men’ by Mario Martinez, published 1995 by Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland, USA

2) I was in Tam in 1987 after four young German travellers failed to arrive at In Guezzam, en-rout for Arlit.
They got stuck in the sand and did what they were told, stayed on the piste awaiting help. 6 months later they were found, long dead, each clutching tragic little letters to their parents and friends. It was a sad and discomforting day in the Tam campsite.

3) A few years ago a Libyan family drove a short way out of the town and into the sands. They got stuck; father walked off for help and got lost. He died 3 days later. His wife and child were still waiting in the disabled car. They died a few days later.

The good news is that most of us make adequate preparations, are well prepared and all reach our destiny. There are few events more satisfying than a challenging desert crossing safely completed.
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Old 4 Jul 2007
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a good book

As it happens I was in a bookshop today sabotaging Driving over Lemons and noticed right next to it they've reprinted Trek in paperback by Paul Stewart. Read it years ago - a great yarn about those that [didn't] whilst crossing the Sahara.
I think summertime in a Morris Traveller had something to do with it. I have a feeling it's been done in a survival/disaster doc though. It's certainly a great subject and a chilling read.


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Old 5 Jul 2007
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I've just read Trek and it is a chilling tale of what happens to those whose arrogance overcomes their sense and ability to listen to those who know better. It is an excellent read and a must for any saharan traveller, if only to remind you of how badly it can go wrong!
Mitsi L200
1990 Landcruiser H60. Full rebuild completed 2014
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Old 6 Jul 2007
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Surviving Sahara

I have a lot of such stories on my site:


For myself:
1-I broke my R4 on the road to Bilma in 1967 (Dunes du KM 400). The car could run back until the Mouydir on the track Tam-Algiers and ther, I waited 3 days a truck riding North.
2-In 1974, after crossing Ténéré from Djanet to Iférouane, on the track Iferouane-Arlit, following a storm (August!) and a lot of fuel consumption, I had a lack of carburant, 40 km away from Arlit.
So, I walked all the night and reached Arlit at sun rising.

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Old 6 Jul 2007
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Originally Posted by kitmax View Post
Hi Vicki
............ A brief description of the 'Lady be Good' story is here.
"Lady Be Good" B-24 Bomber, Quartermaster Graves Registration Search and Recovery
There is also a very good book currently available. It’s called ‘Lady’s Men’ by Mario Martinez, published 1995 by Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland, USA ....................
Thanks for posting that kitmax, for some reason I didn't know anything about it. I think I'll get myself a copy of Trek as well. Thank you for the information one and all.
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Old 6 Jul 2007
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its worth considering the Africans (by which I mean 'not tourists') who come to grief in the Sahara.

There is a well known migration route that runs across Niger, thru Dirkou and north on to Libya. Migrants travel stacked high on the back of Merc trucks. I've seen old people climbing up there for what must be a week or so of hell from Agadez in Niger through to southern Libya.

From time to time the trucks break down. In 2003 one such truck stopped near the Libyan border (it was reported to be well west of the border post - maybe working round the border deliberately) and about 110 people died of thirst a few days later. Two or three managed to walk out. Can you imagine the scenes?

Compared with our (tourist vehicles) which pack spare parts, tools, sat phones, GPS and usually enough in the way of resources to bail us out somehow if things got completely desperate, the local transport is often old, poorly maintained and tend to break down frequently. I remember seeing one of those Merc trucks going north from Dirkou. The radiator was pissing water and the tyres had canvas patches sewn on the side walls. It was laden to the hilt and each passanger had a small water ration. Fancy leaving for Northern Niger in a crate like that?
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Old 1 Aug 2007
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An Epitaph to 954 TPU

Originally Posted by vicki hinners View Post
Hello, Discovery's survival series 'Man V Wild' is off to the Sahara in Morocco. i'm looking to find out about real and extraordinary stories of people surviving or those that havn't whilst crossing the Sahara. They will be incorporated in the programme. Any help would be welcome. Many thanks Vicki
Not quite a survival in the Sahara but may be of interest

I hope that readers of the last two editions of the Range Rover Register enjoyed the account of our trip to the Sahara Desert and High Atlas Mountains in October 2002. Sadly, 954 TPU no longer exists.

This summer, on the spur of the moment, we cancelled our plans to holiday in Ireland and set out again for Morocco. On this occasion my two teenage daughters accompanied us. We took a considerable quantity of clothing and other gifts for the Berber villagers who had been our hosts and treated us so kindly when we visited Morocco last October. The extra luggage required the fitting of an expedition roof rack, which decreased the stability of the vehicle when cornering.

The first week of the holiday went well. We reached Morocco and having travelled 1200 trouble free miles carrying an enormous load we reached our first destination, Merzouga, on the edge of the Sahara. We stayed there with friends made on the previous trip and afterwards in a remote Berber village, 20 miles from the nearest road, high in the Jbel Sahro region of the Atlas Mountains.

On the Monday 28 July, the tenth day of our holiday, having delivered the clothes and other provisions that we had taken for the Berbers, we set off for Marrakech. The journey, which started with a 20 mile ‘off road’ descent through the mountains would have been about 240 miles in total. That evening we were due to meet another Moroccan friend to discuss setting up a Charity in the UK to assist the education of children in remote parts of Morocco. Girls, in particular receive no education and are often working for ten or eleven hours a day tending goats in the hills from the age of about twelve. The meeting that evening would have concluded our ‘charitable’ endeavours. The remainder of the holiday had been planned with the girls in mind and included sight seeing in Marrakech and three days at the coastal resort of Essaouira.

On reaching the road we commenced the long drive across the desert to Marrakech. I’m still not entirely sure what happened. I was sat in the back with my elder daughter, Catriona (aged 15), my wife, Jan, was driving and my younger daughter, Christina (aged 13), was sat in the front. Having delivered the clothes etc. to the Berber villages the roof rack was unladen and the vehicle should have been more stable.

Just a few miles after reaching the road the vehicle started to swerve from side to side, the next minute it had left the road, it tumbled down an eight foot drop over rocks and rolled three times before coming to a rest, on its nearside, pointing in the opposite direction to which it had been travelling. This all occurred in two or three seconds and as 954 TPU crashed through the rocks and tumbled over and over I was sure that death was a certainty for us all.

The vehicle was still and I realised that I was alive and relatively unhurt. I expected it to burst into flames at any moment. Our fate was not was not to be crushed but to die in an inferno. I then realised that Catriona was conscious and appeared unhurt I climbed out of the broken rear door window above and assisted Catriona to follow. Christina too was conscious and I assisted her to climb through the window as well. Jan was unconscious dangling upside-down, suspended by her seatbelt and bleeding badly. Both Catriona and Christina were understandably hysterical. I screamed to them to run back to the road and flag down any passing vehicle.

I returned to the Range Rover, desperately afraid that it was about to burst into flames, and tore off the sunroof and re-entered to vehicle to try to assist Jan. Eventually, with the help of two Moroccans who had arrived on the scene, we managed to extricate her from the wreckage via the sunroof. She was still unconscious. She was badly injured and loosing blood rapidly from extensive deep lacerations to her right arm. Our possessions were strewn across the desert but, miraculously, the first aid kit was in sight, and with the aid of various dressings and bandages I managed to staunch the bleeding (the most useful bandage was purchased at a Car Boot sale and was an army surplus dressing designed, I believe, for a large bullet wound). Mobile phones had been scattered with the debris from the crash and there was no immediate means of summoning assistance. By now others had arrived on the scene and had erected the shattered roof rack and clothes and towels to form a makeshift sunshade to protect Jan from the searing heat.

Catriona was largely unhurt and Christina had sustained burns to her shoulder and leg from the exhaust pipe whilst climbing down the underside of the car. I directed the girls, in spite of their extreme distress, to retrieve Passports and other vital documents that were scattered around. In the meantime someone with a phone had arrived and called an ambulance.

I will summarise the other problems that we experienced

• The ambulance driver had no knowledge of first aid and was not able to administer any painkillers
• It took four hours to get Jan to hospital
• The hospital would not treat her until it had received faxed confirmation that fees would be paid
• Conditions in the hospital were unsanitary and unsafe, I had to feed and wash Jan and she was left unattended all night
• It took two days to arrange a medical air evacuation to the UK which took place on Wed 30 July
• The Moroccan authorities would not allow me to leave the country because of customs regulations relating to the written-off Range Rover
• When the girls and I tried to leave the Morocco on Thursday 31 July I was detained and had to send them, still traumatised, alone to the UK
• With considerable efforts from the British Consulate I was eventually allowed to fly home on Friday 1 August

Clearly, there are many lessons to be learnt from this experience and I could write at length about these. However, I will mention just two. Firstly, it occurred to me afterwards that even if, following the crash, we had possessed a working mobile phone none of us knew the number for emergency services in Morocco. The most important lesson though was to have adequate travel insurance and for each member of the party (even children) to have the policy number and emergency telephone number securely on their person at all times. We were lucky; the bag containing our passports and other important documents was retrieved from the debris shortly after the accident. Early contact with the insurance company proved to be invaluable and probably saved Jan’s life. We estimate that the medical evacuation cost at least £50,000 and this would have been beyond my means without assistance of the insurance company. If our important documents had not been retrieved from the crash, I would not have known with which company we were insured, let alone the policy and emergency telephone numbers.

It’s now Tuesday 5 August, just eight days after the accident. Jan is home from hospital and recovering well. However, on Thursday she has an appointment with a Consultant plastic surgeon and we suspect that a full recovery will take a number of weeks.

The loss of the fully expedition prepared Range Rover is a set back for our 2005 Timbuktu expedition plans and in spite of good insurance cover the accident will mean a loss of about £10,000 (mainly on money spent on the Range Rover over and above the top book price). Nevertheless, we have set about sourcing a replacement vehicle/s, On Sunday I viewed a 1984 Land Rover Stage 1 V8 and I am currently bidding on ebay for what appears to be an exceptionally good value Range Rover.

On Monday of this week (11.08.03) exactly two weeks after the accident we acquired a replacement Range Rover, a 1985 3.5V* manual, carburetted model with just 70,000 miles on the clock. 954 TPU was fuel injected and automatic, both a potential source of problems when travelling alone in remote places. So, the replacement vehicle may be a ‘better bet’ for our planned expedition to Timbuktu, in 2005.

Now (14.8.03), two and a half weeks after the accident Jan continues to make a slow and painful, but steady recovery and once the stitches (over 50) are removed the process of skin grafting will begin.

Since returning I have completed the insurance claim. When we purchased 954 TPU 18 months ago she cost £3,800. Since then I have spent an additional £11,500 preparing her as an expedition vehicle. Members of the RRR who have seen her will agree that she was in very good condition. In addition she was a fully expedition prepared vehicle. Sadly, as the insurance will only pay ‘top book price’ we will incur a substantial loss. No matter, we are all alive and plan to return to Africa, in a Range Rover, to continue our charitable work and experience adventure.

Steven Rose
5 - 14 August 2003
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Old 4 Aug 2007
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a wise old man

from a Touareg tribe told me in Esskane
"one does not escape the Sahara- the Sahara let's you go or not"
Food for thought
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