Bare Sole Trek 2019
Before we begin the actual Trek there will be an opportunity to enjoy conversation and general instruction about mindfulness and trekking with the facilitators.
Each morning there will be an optional 'greet the dawn' short breathing meditation before breakfast and breaking camp to connect body, breath and land.
At breakfast each day our mindfulness facilitators will give inspirational suggestions to contemplate for this day of trekking. The inspirations are intended to inspire a deepening contemplation of who you are and the world around you.
As we pack up camp and load camels you are encouraged to be mindful, to notice this camel, this bag, this moment - bringing attention to daily matters.
During our walking periods silence is encouraged to facilitate mindful walking. To open our senses/awareness of ourselves, our environment and our companions - two and four legged! Guidance will be given on using breath and the nature to deepen your experience.
During the daily dedicated ecological survey stops there is the potential to practice deep listening to our environment and eco-system. This will be coordinated with the Trek leader and mindfulness facilitators to enhance your understanding of the resilience and fragility of this desert ecosystem in which we walk.
Daily journal writing is encouraged to support self-understanding and to gift you an ongoing record of your own insights as we walk each day that you take home with you.
There will be daily group sharing where there is the opportunity to share insights and to ask questions about mindfulness and how to bare your soul to yourself. The timing of such sharing circles will depend on the daily schedule but likely be in the afternoons after the walking and survey points are tended.
Evenings will include a period of dream sharing to inspire our nightly dreams and visions to emerge.
A Typical Day
Please note: Routine is critical when working with trained animals and our daily trekking routine is largely built around the camels day. The following is an example of what would be a 'normal' day.
Remembering that the success of the trek depends on the active participation of all trek members, we ask that you participate to the best of your ability without over doing it. Working together as a team, assisting the crew in the daily routine of running the trek, is an important factor in enjoying our time in the desert. Typical duties would include helping to saddle the camels, load and unload equipment, collecting firewood or assisting with shepherding the camels at the end of the day. We feel that the journey represents a balanced mix of healthy work, relaxation and personal discovery...
The day begins at first light when the crew untie the camels from their night trees and shepherd the camels (perhaps with your help!) whilst they feed. The crew will have their breakfast first whilst the campfire is brought back to life, the billy boiled and breakfast is served for the rest of the trekking group.
After breakfast, we pack up camp and the camels are brought in ready to be loaded with saddles and equipment. Everyone helps in this precision exercise. We usually break camp between 8.00 & 9.30am and our pace of travel is based around that of the camels. They normally walk at about 4 kilometres per hour on flat country and 3 kilometres per hour over dunes. We are not in a rush and one of the first things that you will notice as you walk along is the sheer immensity of the landscape. As you become involved in the day, your senses will soon become attuned to the surrounding desert.
During the morning we stop every hour to adjust loads and have a break, before pulling up for lunch about midday for an hour or so. Lunch is laid out on the tables and this is a time to rest and relax a while.
The afternoon walk follows a similar pattern to that of the morning. Camp is usually struck sometime between 3 and 4.30pm at a suitable place where there is feed for the camels - this is the most critical factor in selecting a campsite. Again, everyone helps to unsaddle the camels and collect firewood etc. The camp is run like a traditional 'stock camp', similar to those that you would find on any large Australian cattle station and is well equipped but not overloaded with the clutter that seems to accompany modern day camping. We carry the essentials - water, food, shelter & swags (bedrolls).
Whilst the camels are grazing, this is a time for you to collect your swag & personal gear and relax, read, or write up the diary. The trek facilitators may have an afternoon mindfulness session planned for later in the afternoon. The crew will be preparing dinner and may need some help shepherding camels to make sure that they don't stray too far from camp. All meals are cooked by the crew on the campfire in camp-ovens or woks and dinner is served soon after nightfall.
At the end of the day, sitting around a campfire in the Australian Outback, surrounded by the desert night, is one of life's great pleasures. It's time to discuss the day's events or just sit back on your swag and absorb the brilliant glow of the stars and the thunderous silence that thousands of square kilometres of desert produces. The camels inevitably become a talking point as our day completely revolves around their day and their ability to negotiate the dunes with their loads which may weigh as much as 250kg.
The actual day-to-day itinerary of any trek is, to a large degree, unplanned - that is the beauty of travelling with camels and exploring the desert. As the trek is self-sufficient and the camels can travel virtually anywhere, the only definite objective is our final destination. For instance, it is seldom known in the morning exactly where that nights camp will be, as the route taken, weather conditions, availability of camel feed and 'unexpected discoveries' all determine the position of camp. The one constant however, is the daily routine of loading and unloading the equipment onto and off the camels, as well as the general camp duties.
On day 1, you depart Brisbane in the early morning via the scheduled domestic air service to Birdsville, where on arrival you will be met by our team, and transfer to the accommodation.
Day 2 - is the 4WD transfer from Birdsville to the camel camp just over the border in South Australia. This will take most of the morning. Upon arrival at the camel camp you will meet your crew and the camels. We will have food and other equipment to pack as we prepare for departure the next day. Your help with this important task is welcome! You will have time to acclimatise to your new surroundings and organise your personal gear. That evening, your trek leader will talk about the trek route and objectives, the camels and other important safety points. The mindfullness facilitator will also outline the program for the 5 day walk.
Day 3 - This first day is also an introduction day to the camels as your crew will demonstrate how to handle the camels and how the tonnes of saddles & equipment are carried. As the days pass and you become more familiar with the daily activities, the loading/unloading time decreases and the daily trek routine begins to take shape.
Days 3 to 6 will consist of the same daily routine. It is envisaged that we will walk until lunch time leaving the afternoon free. There will be no strict water rationing during the trek and we may have facilities for an occasional wash. But please note that the water we carry is for drinking and not washing bodies!
On day 7 the 4WD transfer vehicles will meet us at lunchtime.
On the morning of day 8 you board the vehicles and commence the drive back to Birdsville, arriving in mid to late afternoon.
Day 9 sees you board the flight back to Brisbane, arriving in late afternoon.
*Please note: IMPORTANT!
We strongly advise that you should build in a 'buffer zone' due to any delays caused by delays in the scheduled domestic service from Birdsville to Brisbane.
Schedule any/your outgoing flights from Brisbane until the next day.
The team. The trekking party comprises up to 10 trekkers, 4 to 5 cameleers and up to 20 camels. Your fellow trekkers will come from many countries. Most will be from Australia and New Zealand however you can expect people from the UK, North America and Europe to be in your group. Most would have had no previous camel trekking experience, which is not a problem!
Our leaders. Our leaders are experienced cameleers, each with a love and respect for the camels and the desert and are happy to share their knowledge with you. All are trained in First Aid, as is at least one other crew member.
Camping Equipment. OCC provides all the camping equipment. You do not need to bring tents or swags. We carry tents in the event of rain - yes, it does rain in the desert during winter! We carry kitchen tables and a kitchen tent for when it rains. Your swag doubles as a comfortable ‘chair’ at night around the campfire in the evenings, however we also carry small plastic fold-up stools.
Before departure we will send you a comprehensive Trek Information Guide which will contain everything you need to know about preparations for the trek.