M’hamid is as far as you can go by road, there is nothing but desert after here. This little town feels and looks like a frontier post. Our 4×4 for the next few days arrived on time all kitted out, we loaded her up and headed off down a dusty road toward the Sahara.
Dusty road turned to dry river bed, which turned into sand, then scattered rock, then slowly we began to see small dunes appearing in the distance. After a few hours rocking around in the 4×4 we arrived at an oasis. It wasn’t an oasis as Jason had imagined it: a shimmering clear pool of water with beautiful ladies serving you drinks…in reality it was a small river leading to a tiny shallow pool and hundreds of beautiful palm trees. After this we visited another adjoining oasis where we had another beautiful lunch in the sun and set off again.
Next was the dunes of Chegaga. These are the highest sand dunes in Morocco at around 300m. Our guide let us loose in the desert, merely telling us to be back in 2 hours. After hiking up to the top of one of the taller ones and scanning the horizon, we really felt isolated as there was only sand in every direction as far as the eye could see. After about an hour in the hot Saharan sun and a multitude of the highest dunes conquered, we found our way back to the vehicle and it was onwards to sanctuary! Our home for the night was a Bebadin camp consisting of 8 tents, a fire pit and a mess hall. We rocked up and quickly took the opportunity to get horizontal in our tent which had more holes than a piece of Swiss cheese and a door that wouldn’t stay shut, come on in scorpions!
Every single place we had been so far had taken us in, looked after us and offered us Moroccan tea, and even here in the middle of the Sahara it was no different. After tea we set off to climb the dunes and watch the sunset over the desert and attempt (and fail) to get some ‘holding the moon between your fingers’ pictures. When we got back to camp we were shown a new desert bush craft skill: making bread in the sand like the Nomads. Very interesting and more importantly, tasty. Could have done with a knob of butter and some jam though!
After a cold night’s sleep and a visit from half the animals in the desert, we were woken up at 6am by the German couple staying in the camp trying to bump-start their vehicle by going round and round the tents. After breakfast Lincoln thought he would check out how the solar panels in the camp worked and almost fell into the 30 foot deep cess pit which had simply been covered up with a rug and had sand sprinkled on it make it look like the rest of the desert. If it weren’t for the quick response of one of the locals, old Linc would have been spending the next few weeks scrubbing 25 different nationalities of poo off himself.
After breakfast we set off on foot through the dessert looking for fossils. After 3 hours of wandering about, everybody was marching back to camp, pockets bulging with all kinds of different fossils. After this we bade au-revoir to the camp owners and headed off in the 4×4 to the camel camp.
After arriving and being served tea (of course) our 5 camels arrived, at this point some of the party started to get a bit jittery, there were definitely some longing looks at the 4×4, but Nyle stepped up and jumped on his camel first and everyone followed soon after. We rode the camels for a while and soon became attached to them, even christening them with names (Connor, Cliff) and we rode our trusty steeds all the way back to M’Hamid where, exhausted, everybody turned in for the night.
Our final two days weren’t as exciting as the rest of the trip. The penultimate day was mainly driving, eating and sleeping. However on our last day we did visit a heritage site in a small but busy town where we stayed the night before. This was an ancient building built many years ago which had been the setting for numerous films including Gladiator, Prince of Persia and Game of Thrones.
Afterwards we set off for the final leg in the car, dropping off Paul in Marrakech to await his flight in two days and then heading off to the airport without any hiccups other than John forgetting to get his passport back from the car hire guy, but it was quickly remembered and he came back to give it to him. Nice easy 3 hour flight and the boys were all tucked up in their own beds, and the adventure was over.