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the Degree Confluence Project
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Saudi Arabia : Najrān

128.0 km (79.5 miles) WNW of Šarūra, Najrān, Saudi Arabia
Approx. altitude: 804 m (2637 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest Multimap world confnav)
Antipode: 18°S 134°W

Click on any of the images for the full-sized picture.

#2: Top of the sand ridge #3: On the edge of a 200 foot slip face #4: Last Chance Gas Station and Last Shade Object for 100 miles #5: The "New" pump #6: Undisturbed for thousands of years #7: Ice left after five days in the Empty Quarter #8: Panoramic view of the confluence

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  18°N 46°E  

#1: Not Near Anywhere

(visited by Colin Irvine and Ken Long)

18-Jan-2000 -- This confluence is in the heart of the Rub` al-Khāliy (Empty Quarter) of Saudi Arabia. It's in a nice neighborhood which has no rush hour traffic and one of the lowest crime rates on the planet. East of this point, there is not a single road or permanent settlement for 700 miles. Bring extra tuna fish and a good buddy so you can pull each other out of the soft spots.

The dunes here are formed into long, parallel ridges which can extend unbroken for 100 km. The ridges are about 3-5 km apart and the space in between varies from immense sand sheets to gravel plains. Driving on the sand sheets can be a pleasure, but crossing the ridges can consume a lot of time while you find a safe spot to drive/slide down the slip faces, some of which can be hundreds of feet long.

So, what the hell were we doing there? Ken and I work "in Kingdom" for THE oil company. This particular corner of the Rub` offers some of the best wilderness camping in the world. And you can take your car to live in! Once upon a time this region was much more African-like than today. We find ostrich shell fragments and many, many stone age artifacts. The arrowhead shown in the photo has lain untouched in that spot for perhaps 10,000-15,000 years, waiting for ME.

This is definitely GPS country. If you set up camp and drive away for a look around, you may find your tracks have disappeared within an hour if the wind is blowing. You can then pass within 100 meters of camp and never see it behind the next dune, which looks strangely like the last dune and sort of like the next dune...

Photo #7 is one of Ken showing off our fantastic thermal packing skills. After five days in the Empty Quarter, we still have this much ice left. We are about 200 miles from the nearest ice cube. We started out with 75 KILOS of ice between us, this is what is left. BTW, we didn't budget 75 kilos, that just the size of iceberg the local ice plant sells.

The panorama in photo #8 gives some scale reference by looking at our two vehicles near the middle of the picture. You need to let it fill the screen vertically and scroll through the horizontal to get the full effect. Behind our vehicles, you can see one of the ridges of dunes, they're called "Sayf" dunes which means Sword, stretching unbroken from horizon to horizon.


 All pictures
#1: Not Near Anywhere
#2: Top of the sand ridge
#3: On the edge of a 200 foot slip face
#4: Last Chance Gas Station and Last Shade Object for 100 miles
#5: The "New" pump
#6: Undisturbed for thousands of years
#7: Ice left after five days in the Empty Quarter
#8: Panoramic view of the confluence
ALL: All pictures on one page (broadband access recommended)