Those avid followers of the 2001-2002 expedition may have noticed that the trans-sahara crossing from east-west failed to materialise. Our vehicle was old; our tempers frayed and time short. To our credit we crossed the Sahara but from the South to the North. In June 2002 Sam Raf and Piers Gladstone tried to continue the journey. The weasel, however, had other ideas. She systematically rattled, fell apart and refused to go backwards. Eventually she passed on into new friendly hands, who promised to bring her to her former glory.

We fled the heat of Khartoum, Sam and Piers in a Toyota and I on an Emirates Airways Airbus. (I explained to my companions that this mode of transport was chosen, "purely because it was air-conditioned".)

Both of these expeditions were very enjoyable experiences for all members of the team. There were however some slight glitches. For example: we would rather have spent more time on the road and less time in garages.

This new expedition is the product of much grumbling by campfires, discussion on dive boats and planning in cafes and bars across the world. It takes into account the opinions of all the expedition team members, past and present.

The result is an expedition that comprises two vehicles, four permanent crew and a number of others "on detachment". We also honed our aims, and our kit…. But to learn more, dear reader, you must turn the page and enter, once again, the realm of the mad. The people that keep going back to the desert.

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