At first it was just a spec on the distant dunes, a little later you were able to make the outline of riders on a long camel train led by two blue men, Tuareg's, desert nomads, on foot. It was still early morning as they slipped into camp. We had set up yards from the Old Fort and camel compound at Auberge du Sud, Erg Chebbi. "I will never walk again" Linda said. Emma resembled Quosimodo as she dismounted her grumpy ship of the desert. Pammy said "if she had not been a virgin before she was NOT now"! But to the men [and women] it was agreed that it was a totally fantastic experience.
The "funsters" had done a 15 hour over night camel trek to witness the Sun Set and the Sun Rise from no better place than the massive dunes near Merzouga. A tented Tuareg camp greeted their arrival where the over night supplies were unpacked from the loaded camels and support quad bike before a meal [yet another, best so far] was cooked in a huge cannibal style pot.
Later mats were laid out for the night which the "funsters" will spend under the stars, if it was not for the wine glasses in hands most would have been mistaken for a colourful nomad tribe, men and women in their flowing djellabas and traditional head scarves.
The day before, we left Source Bleu de Meski around 9am for the 60 mile drive to the Sahara proper. A brief stop at the "fossil factory" and ancient market of Rissani [a hot and dusty town which sits on the edge of the desert. In a sense, this is the end of the road, where it peters out into the hot nothingness of stone and sand that stretches out to the south] for more supplies and it was then off road pistes to the Dunes. The pistes can be and were rough winding across rough, black hammada.
5 or so miles into the piste and Rory was reminded that he had only put a few of the required retaining screws back in place when he last refitted the overhead TV, Jan caught it before landing on laps. Mmmmmm TV refitting in the Sahara!!
The contents of Pammy's draws [the cupboard type] dumped their contents covering the RV floor as they slide open. Geo cursed the day light yet again that appeared between his window screen and frame [more about that later]!!! A vent clip or two fell from the Burstner of Mark and Linda's motorhome. If anything happened to Lyndon and Emma's vehicle he didn't notice!!!!
The whole run on the piste went surprisingly well until we actually reached the camp, when a confusion between the universal "give it power" and UK's own motor homers "stop", "signal", resulted in Geo getting bogged. Absolutely not his fault, I would stress. The Unimog support vehicle was called and took up recovery station but was not needed as a combination of light foot and gears, plus some shovel work soon saw him free.
Driving across open desert into the unknown will always be a tense and nervous experience and all agreed like those that have been before it was worth it and the highlight of the adventure so far..........
From the Atlantic coast of Africa, the Sahara stretches, three thousand miles wide and a thousand deep. This huge desert is a mysterious and unfinished place, a trial run in landscape architecture where a few basis designs of sand, gravel and mountains are used repeatedly and stretched to their limits. The mountains are uncompromisingly severe, the sand dunes have a regularity unknown elsewhere in nature, the gravel plains are oceanic in scale, flat and unchanging for days of travel. In the open desert there is too much sky, oppressively stretching from horizon to flat horizon, while in the sandstone canyons there is almost none at all. Here, without the protective shield of soil to hide the evidence of the past, the history of the landscape and the forces that made it are on show!
One more night will be spent with the wonders of the natural landscape before a drive back out of the desert over the pistes before the "funsters" meet up with the MIGHTY TODRA GORGE.
Thanks for your comments so far. Dont know about Debbie the Blog, just dont tell Ray Brisey!!
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