Adventures in the Sahara

Trip Start Apr 20, 2008
Trip End Aug 15, 2010

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Sedentary tents in the Sahara!!

Flag of Morocco  ,
Tuesday, February 10, 2009

After a random unexpected stop in Casablanca Lizzie and I arrived in Marrakech at 10:30pm. We were met by our Morrocan guide Marwan who drove us back to the hotel Riad Mogador. At 8am the next morning we set off on what was to be a windy 12 hour drive through the atlas mountains. We stopped along the way for a snowball fight, lunch in a little village, the location where a lot of the film 'Babel' was shot, a place with a view of massive date plantations and a small village made of mud brick houses where we we shown how the local families make ceramics.

At aroudn 8pm we arrived in M'Hamid a village just on the edge of teh Sahara. This is where we left our mini bus. We had packed enough stuff for three days in our day packs and this is all we took with us as we crammed into 2 jeeps. It was now time to head off road, into the vast dark emptiness. I have no idea how they navigate but abotu half an hour later we arrived at our camp. I had been expected the worst I thought we would be stayingin a very basic camp where we may even have to set up our own tents. We were amazed and pleasantly surprised when we reached our camp, there were many large canvas structures set up in a cirlce. A large communal tent was where we were to have our meals. The ground (sand) was completely covered in carpet. The walls had carpets and pieces of material hanging from them which gave a very cosy effect. There were tables and chairs and out melas were served to us on beauitiful ceramic plates. Our own tents were similar, lit by a lantern with proper mattresses and plently of blankets.

The food was delicious, usually some sort of tagine which is the name of a big cermaic dish with a pointy lid which is used to cook in. The fdish is called tagine and anything that is cooked in it is called tagine. I think they just put all the vegetables, meat and spices inside it and then put it in the fire. It was really good anyway, served with fresh bread and salads we were very well fed. There were 12 of us on the tour, apart from me there was 8 other Australians all between the age of 20 and 28 Lizzie was the only English representative although all the Australians were living and working and London! The last 2 people were a middle aged American couple who did nothing to challenge my general opnion and experince with people of this background.

Waking up Monday morning was amzing having not yet been able to see our surroundings properly. We really were out in the middle of nowhere and all that could be seen was sand and some minimal vegetation. This day was to be spent trekking through the dessert on camel. Unfortunately it was really windy but we did have some authentic arab guides who made us proper turbans that covered everything but our eyes. The camel trek lasted most of the day stopping for lunch and some rests along the way. It was so quiet and peaceful had it not been for my extremely sore backside I would have wanted to continue forever. We spent the evening socilaising in the communal tent, our guides got out the drums and played some morrocon music and attempted to teach us some berber (the indigenous language) songs.

Tuesday we set off in 4 x 4 jeeps. We drove for a couple of hours up and down the soft dunes. We stopped to look at some nomad graves and to look for fossils. Ths sahara was once upon a time the bottom on an ocean and you just have to pick up a few rocks to be able to spot little fossilized fishes. We stopped for lunch at an oasis, it was not windy this day infact in the direct sunlight it was really very warm! After lunch we set off again for another 40 mins. It was flat now and brown as far as the eye could see that was until we spotted a patch of green far off in the distance. As we approached we could see camels and donkeys grazing and behind the green patch was Chigaga, a 40km long stretch of 300m high Saharian dunes. We camped just on the edge and had great fun jumping off the edge of dunes and trying to get lots of cool photos.

Marwan didn't let us play for too long, we had to go out and learn about the native flora and fauna and to collect some firewood. After that we walked up to the top of the highest dune we saw to watch the sunset. It was stunning although as soon as the sun went down it suddenly got very cold so we didn't stay up there too long. We had a fire this night and sat out and looked at the dessert night sky... so many stars!! We also had a Morrocon tea making competition (Marwan's games were almost as bad as his jokes) The Morrocan's drink mint tea or green tea (which tastes like matte from Argentina ie. tastes like tobacco!!) with loads and loads of sugar. Mohammed, our driver was the judge so he didn't like our tea at all.

I was sad to leave the dessert but at this point I was under the impression that all Morrocan's lived in Nomadic or Bedouin tents or in mud brick houses so it was time to see something else.
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kritters on

Here's looking at you, kid.
Wow amazing photos!! Sounds like you had a fantastic time!! See you soon!!

Play it once, Sam. For old times' sake.

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