Calderan walks over 1,000 km in Rub Al Khali desert

Italian explorer completes extreme challenge in Saudi Arabia

04 February, 18:15

    NAPLES - Italian explorer Max Calderan walked more than 1,000 kilometres in the Rub Al Khali desert, the so-called "Empty Quarter", a piece of unexplored desert that he crossed in 18 days, a feat that no one had ever done before.

    "The border police were incredulous when I told them that I had just finished crossing the Empty Quarter," Calderan said.

    "They couldn't believe that I had been walking for 1,000 kilometres," he said.

    "The last leg I faced in total solitude. My team was waiting for me at the finish and even the Saudi company that was managing logistics and security refused to proceed due to the danger of the route," he said.

    Temperatures are extremely high in that section, the sand is boiling hot, and the dunes are much more imposing and difficult to climb compared to the ones that come before it.

    "It was a trip through hell," Calderan said.

    The exploration didn't produce scientifically significant discoveries, due to the lack of genetic samples available for collection in the desert.

    However, Calderan encountered a profound difference in the territory compared to what is on satellite maps, and he marked out more than 100 points of interest along the route, which has been named the Calderan Line in recognition of his achievement.

    The Calderan Line will soon be included on geographic maps of Saudi Arabia.

    The Italian explorer is a physiological anomaly - DNA tests revealed that he has extremely low levels of cortisol, showing that his body can tolerate levels of extreme stress better than the average person.

    This is why he dedicated himself to crossing the most treacherous sands in the world, completely alone, surviving in conditions that go beyond human limits. In 2014, Al Jazeera produced the documentary "Son of the Desert" on his explorations.

    Al Madhi, as the Beduins call him, now holds 13 world records for desert exploration, including a crossing for 90 consecutive hours in Oman along the line of the Tropic of Cancer, and a crossing of 360 kilometres in 75 hours (in the summer, no less) in Saudi Arabia.

    Max Calderan's extraordinary accomplishment will be the subject of the documentary "Into the Lost Desert", filmed by a crew that followed him on his incredible journey.

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