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Google put its Street View camera on a camel's back to tour the Arabian desert

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Google's Street View cameras have been carried around on cars, boats, people, and now camels. The company recently set out to capture 360-degree imagery of the Arabian desert, and to "minimize" disruptions of what Google calls a "delicate environment," the Maps team affixed its Trekker camera onto the back of a dromedary named Raffia. It's safe to assume that before Google came along, Raffia had never transported anything quite like this through the desert.

Google Street View Camel

The result is a truly fantastic tour of the Liwa Desert, and the unique perspective almost makes it feel like you're on the camel's back instead of Google's expensive camera technology. But just look down and you'll see Raffia's shadow along with the Indian guide who led the 10-year-old camel (and potentially millions of internet users) on the journey. Apparently that meant putting in some early mornings; The National reports that shooting began as early as 6AM local time. The effort was worth it, with spectacular views of vast desert dunes and a seemingly endless sand landscape. Depending on where you begin, you might wonder who the lonely man far off in the distance is.

Desert mystery man

We were more than a bit curious. Could it be a mirage? But after taking the time to get up close, it turns out his face is (unsurprisingly) blurred out, leaving this desert man's identity a mystery — for now. Presumably he's there to help keep the camel tour on a particular trajectory. Google is hopeful that some Street View exposure can make this oasis even more of a tourist attraction than it already is today. But if you can't stand the heat, taking a tour over the internet isn't really such a bad thing.

Desert mystery man 2