Desert Camping and off to the Border

Trip Start Sep 03, 2010
Trip End Oct 27, 2010

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Where I stayed

Flag of Western Sahara  ,
Thursday, October 7, 2010

Had 38.6c fever last night starting midday so didn't take any photos or did much as a result. Took 500mg paracetamol and felt way better, almost like normal. Jay had been very busy selling on the street and getting rid of as much stuff as possible. I popped off a few shots from the hotel window.

Next day woke up feeling pretty cured and midday leave the hotel on the search for the famous "les dunes blancs" - white dunes located on the other side of Dahkla bay and spend the night in the desert. We follow various vague instructions but cant find anything so its off-road to see what we can find. I lock the front wheels to maximise 4x4 capability. We only have 1hr left before sunset and already the mind-blowing landscape is bathed in golden light. We follow the coastline and take many photos. We reach a plateau and go right but reach a dead end at an oyster farm. Frustrated we turn we turn around as the sun is near the horizon. We scramble to the top of the plateau armed with tripods and cameras. The view is spectacular and everything is bathed in orange light. After a few snaps we head back down and set-up our camp at 2347'41.80"N - 1544'12.01"W. The 4x4 pickups will serve as shelters. I make a fire to add a twist to first night in the desert. It gets pitch black as there is no moon. The stars blast out and the milky way is blistering away in its full glory in a huge arch above us. I calculate that its going to rotate away from us and hide behind our plateau so we do some Astrophotography. Jay has never done this before and is totally amazed by the results.

Its dinner time and i make some pot noodles that we have got left. My pot has a damaged lid but we both eat with pleasure. Towards the end i see some mouse dropping in the bottom! Maybe thats why Jay got really ill! He had also had a damaged pot noodle just before we got to Boujdour.. not much i can do now.

We sit around the fire for a bit and get to to sleep. Ive laid out some cardboard and 3 sheets of foam on the corrugated metal floor of the pickup. I only have 2 sheets to cover myself. The 3rd one we had Jay had thrown away a few day ago much to my annoyance. Jay has the luxury of a comfy sleeping bag and a thick layer of clothes as a matress. My car is also on a slope so getting some sleep is difficult. I wake up many times and its cold. In scoop my towel and some clothes over me to get warm and to be able to sleep.

I wake up groggy next morning and the condensed moisture in the aluminium cabin is dripping everywhere. Its 9am and the sun is heating the cabin like an oven. I get ready while i wait for Jay to wake up. Its English tea and cereals for breakfast for a nice change. We head off and mess around with some offroad and filming.

Back on the road and after a good couple of kilometres we pass the Tropic of Cancer and stop off for some obligatory photos. A petrol station nearby is comically called "Topic of Cancer" in a faded sign. We continue down the long long road but the landscape makes up for it. Every couple of kilometres it changes completely and im left in awe every time. Jay swerves off the road at some point for some more 4x4 exploration. It certainly is a lot of fun! The bumpy ride takes us down to a wide and endless beach. There is a steep slope so we decide to only take 1 car. The tide must be out and we have trouble seeing the waters edge as its so far out and inviting for a bit of 4x4.  We speed out but soon get stuck in some mud. Its very slippery and have to dig with our hands. We let some air out as well for better traction and manage to get out. I jump on the back for a bumpy ride. Its a dodgy and difficult route back but we make it.

Back on the road and short of the Mauritanian border we fill up the cars with diesel and also 4 canisters of 25l each. This is because fuel here is at its cheapest it will ever be. Just before the border the landscape changes again in a surreal fashion. Again its mind-blowing but i can never find enough words to describe such beauty each time. Sadly this time its full of mines due to the conflict between Mauritania and Morocco.

We finally arrive at the Moroccan border before sunset. The endless queuing and pointless questions and paperwork drag time. We are the last ones to arrive and usually the border is shut..

(continued in next entry)
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