In much the same style as Ralph Bagnold’ s pioneering pre-war trips into the Sahara, we have assembled a small team of old pals with considerable experience of both desert travel and the LRDG. Please read each biography, but if you have further questions please follow the ‘Contact’ link.
Mahmoud Marai is a veteran desert explorer and guide with more than 150,000km of desert driving in the deserts of Egypt, Libya, Sudan and Arabia. He has been travelling in the Great Sahara Desert since 1998, sometimes solo, but usually as the guide and leader of a structured tour. The American educated, former high school chemistry teacher, has led a number of long range desert expeditions since 2003 in which many new and interesting discoveries were made.
In 2003 Mahmoud Marai and party, including Toby Savage, discovered the first high altitude pre-historic rock art site on the Jebel el Uweinat Mountain. In 2007, accompanied by Hardy Boeckli, Mahmoud climbed to the summit of Uweinat during a forty day expedition. In the course of the trek they discovered a series of previously unrecorded sites at an altitude of 1450m. Their research created new evidence in support of the "Vertical Transhumance Movement in the Uweinat" by the pre-historic dwellers of the mountain.
In November 2007, during a thirty day expedition the team made their most sensational find by discovering a hieroglyphic text dating from the Middle Kingdom, that mentioned a fabled Kingdom of "Yam" and the cartouche of the great Mentohotup II Pharaoh. The discovery provided new evidence of a lost episode of the Ancient Egyptian civilisation and may provide the first proof of Ancient Egyptian trans-Sahara expeditions.
Marai's last project was in 2009 when he collaborated with the German documentary director Matthias Heeder of Medien Kontor Movie GmbH in producing his epic documentary "Die Letzten Kamelkarawanen der Sahara"- translated as 'The Last Camel Caravans of the Sahara' in which they travelled to the Sudan and followed the ancient slave trade route of the Forty Days Road. Mahmoud also has a passion for the Long Range Desert Group, recording many related finds on his travels and it is his photographs of rusting old trucks that are on this web site.
Toby is, by profession, an advertising photographer based in Leicester, England, but most winters, escapes the confines of his studio in pursuit of desert adventure. A chance meeting with Professor David Mattingly, of Leicester University, back in 1998 has led to Toby accompanying David’s multi-disciplinary group of scientists on ten tours of the Libyan Fazzan region, seeking to unravel the mysteries of how mankind migrated across the Sahara Desert to populate the world over the last million years or so. He has also been involved with other trips to Western Sahara, Egypt and, in 2002 co-presented the film, Desert Driving, an instructional film shot entirely on location in Algeria with Chris Scott.
Toby is a regular contributor to the U.K. magazines Land Rover World and 4x4 Magazine, writing about his many adventures. He is also an occasional contributor to the U.S. publication, Overland Journal, where a feature on this trip will appear.
The success of Toby’s ten Saharan adventures to date, is attention to detail in planning and having contingency plans for when things don’t always go according to plan. This LRDG Trip is the result of an idea borne out of finding some LRDG artefacts three years ago in Waw en Kebir, Libya, and thinking what fun it would be to cover this exotic terrain in a open Jeep, in much the same manner as those brave lads did back in World War Two.
Further information is on Toby’s web site.
John has been fascinated by the exploits of the Long Range Desert Group since his schooldays. Back then the only Jeeps and 4x4s he had were made by Airfix but since buying his first Land Rover in 1985 he's owned a succession of Land Rovers and Jeeps. 4x4s have taken him around the world; he was a journalist on the 1991 Camel Trophy - Tanzania Burundi in the back of the UK team's Land Rover Discovery. Since then he has driven Jeeps in Zambia and Botswana, across California's famous Rubicon Trail and over some of the famous trails in Moab, Utah and the Colorado Rockies. He's driven Land Rovers in Thailand and Laos as a journalist on the G4 Challenge, on Colorado's mountain trails, in the mountains of Spain and France and in the volcanic wilderness of Iceland.
He is a NPTC and LANTRA qualified 4x4 driver and owns a collection of classic 4x4s. He tells people that 'leaded gas' or 'four star' runs in his veins. He remains fascinated by World War Two even though he no longer makes Airfix models and will bring considerable experience to this trip.
Sam, from the hills of northern England, first travelled the Sahara aged seven – and it stole his heart. Since then he has lived in various spots around Africa, mapping parts of the Sahara, the Middle East and Kenya, working in desert rescue and also in conservation with Kenya Wildlife Services and the Born Free Foundation.
He lived and worked in Cairo for several years, and spent every spare minute travelling the desert, often taking groups of expat travellers in their 4x4s to see “the other Egypt”, worlds away from pyramids and temples. Happiest overlanding with his long-suffering Land Rover 'Elsa', and having just returned from a trip through Morocco, Algeria and Western Sahara, he is currently home in Britain teaching biology, playing cricket and relearning bad Arabic.
A chance meeting as a teenager with 'Harry' Harrison of Y Patrol, a veteran of the LRDG turned a childhood passion into an academic interest, and he completed a thesis on the history of the LRDG some twenty years ago. Since then he has continued feeding this particular personal demon and feels a great enthusiasm for this project, believing that the legacy of the LRDG, both in terms of historical and military value but also as a tale of non-comformity and adventure, has much relevance to the modern world.
A Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, he is their Secretary for the northeast of England, and a Member of the Royal Institute of Navigation.