18 days, 300km, one swag, zero showers and a billion blowflies makes for one hell of a journey. Especially if that journey takes place in the Simpson Desert, recalls Australian travel writer Jo Stewart.

When I tell people I once walked 300 kilometers through Australia’s Simpson Desert with a camel caravan supporting a scientific expedition, I’m immediately bombarded with questions.

Living and working in one of the world’s most inhospitable environments without access to showers, toilets, running water, Wi-Fi and the electrical grid may seem incomprehensible to some, but with careful planning, meticulous preparation and a bit of true grit, is totally possible.

Related: What doesn’t kill you: Why we need to embrace Australia’s ‘terrifying’ nature

Apart from blistered feet and questionable body odor, here are a few things I took away from the journey: