In 1930, a small team of men led British explorer Bertram Thomas on what became the first recorded crossing of Rub’ al Khali, or “The Empty Quarter”, the largest sand desert in the world.
For the first time since then, another team has taken on the same challenge with British explorer Mark Evans leading the charge across the fascinating yet dangerous landscape.
Their journey began in December, and as they scale more than 600 miles across the southern portion of the Arabian Peninsula (in Oman, Qatar, and through Saudi Arabia), they have recorded their journey on their “Crossing The Empty Quarter” website and social media accounts.
We’ve put together a collection of photographs from the @crossingeq Instagram account that show what the perilous journey has been like for the group so far.
To stay in touch throughout their trip, the team is using satellite equipment from Thuraya Telecommunications. Pictured here is the SatSleeve, which turns smartphones into a satellite phone, and a communications hub (far right) to facilitate getting Wi-Fi.
Temperatures in the desert can climb as high as 122 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer and below freezing in the winter. Luckily, the team has two Toyota LC90 expedition vehicles for their journey.
Ensuring the well-being of their camels is part of the difficulty of the journey. This includes being able to find appropriate water supplies for both the animals and themselves.
The team consists of nine men in total (including two support photographers and two medical experts). Members range from locals who have lived in the area for years to the great-great-grandson of one of the original explorers.
In the 1930s, The Explorer's Club called the Empty Quarter 'the broadest expanse of unexplored territory outside of Antarctica', and it remains a mystery to most today. The landscape can prove to be stunning.
The desert encompasses parts of Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen, with a terrain that's often marked by enormous dunes.
It also has clear skies that make for incredible stargazing. This photo was taken from the team's campsite one recent evening.
A wide variety of tracks and prints -- including those from hyenas -- can be found throughout the desert.
Along the way, they've been treated to traditional meals and songs from those who live near the area.
At one point in their trip, they were greeted by a team of men who led them to the historic settlement of Shisr, Oman on camels. There, they were welcomed by a crowd of nearly 80 people in a natural amphitheater beneath the ruins of Ubar.
After singing, they retired to a meal held in their honour. Such a large crowd gathered for the meal that they were forced to serve it in two separate sittings.
Their Christmas dinner, however, was a bowl of baked beans, keeping in the tradition of what Thomas had eaten back on his journey in 1930.
In an image posted a few weeks ago, a caption read, 'While we know it is the New Year, most of us don't know which day of the week it is for sure, and to be quite honest, it doesn't really matter.' Typically, their travelling starts just after sunrise and ends just before sunset, with a break in the middle.
About a month ago, they reached the border between Saudi Arabia and Oman. When they left the Omani military camp, they were received with an unexpected visit from around 20 members of the community of Al Hashman, who travelled to wish them well.
The desert was once believed to be green and lush, with permanent rivers and lake beds. The team came across a small waterhole with grass growing around it, where the camels were able to replenish themselves.
They also came across areas like the Turaiga well, where they used a rope and pulley system to pull up buckets of waters.
As their journey progresses, the desert's terrain changes. In this photo taken three weeks ago, the team notes that the dunes are starting to open to vaster moorlands of sand, with beautiful snaking dunes that catch the eye.
During the trek, they've also come across different tribes of the Empty Quarter, including the Murra. During Thomas' time, the Murra ranged over an area of the desert the size of France. According to the team's Instagram account, the Murra are often employed by the government as detectives to hunt down criminals.
In Qatar, they've also come across individuals travelling on their own, like this man carrying a falcon.
Though they have hit some points not covered by regular GSM telecom networks, they have relied on Thuraya to make calls and record their journey, through which they are also reporting their scientific and archaeological findings.
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