To the Sahara

We woke to heavy rain this morning. After a lovely breakfast it was time to depart & make our way to Zagora then onto the Sahara.

The rain had left its mark & we had to cross a number of flooded roads. It certainly was great seeing the area after rain instead of it being so dry the rest of the time.

We crossed the Anti Atlas Mountains today which were very impressive in their geological formations. The rocks here are black & the landscape is devoid of flora giving it a Luna like look. The people in the area over the mountains are also different being more dark skinned and wearing turbans.

We stopped suddenly outside some closed up shops to discover that Abdellah had brought us to the liquor shop. The owner very kindly opened his shut shop for us & the majority of us bought a bottle of red wine which we thought we would enjoy around the camp fire tonight.

Lunch was enjoyed at the fabulous Chez Le Pacha. The meal was amazing. Two huge platters were brought out with a mixture of salads which included eggplant, chopped tomatoes & onion, potatoes, beetroot, cucumber, chicken & some other ingredients I’m sure some I’ve forgotten. We all hoed in & piled our plates only to discover this was just the first course. The main course consisted off a tagine of meatballs & egg, rice & vegetables. This was then followed by sliced orange, banana & cinnamon. I ate way too much but it was all so delicious.

The entry gates to our restaurant stop

When we finished lunch we didn’t get back on our usual bus but rather split into 3 groups & hopped into some 4wds.

We reached the town of M’Hamid where the road ends & the desert begins. We purchased water & scarves that could be used as turbans.

Typical street scene.. lady walking

It was then a 2 hour drive into the Sahara to our camp for the night. We stopped a couple of times, once to look at the camels and the ladies collecting wild rocket & the next stop to just take in the scenery. It’s hard to even start to describe it. The landscape changed from an oasis type with date trees to more arid land with the odd tree. The ground is basically sand with black basalt rock sitting on top. I didn’t think that it would be so rocky. Finally the rocks gave way to just sand. The only animals we saw were camels, goats & mules with the odd bird or two.

Notice the black rock on the sand

On arrival at the camp we had time to climb some of the surrounding dunes to take in the views then some quiet time to sit & enjoy the sun & atmosphere of the camp with the comfortable chairs, eggchairs & white tents followed by a welcome with mint tea and nuts. Our tent which was to be our bedroom for the night was very comfortable although there was a shower but with no water.

We had all decided to take a camel ride & it was soon time to “hop” on. We were led by 3 guides & had a lot of fun cruising over the dunes in our multi-coloured turbans. They were invaluable as the wind had come up & they covered not just our heads but also our faces. We ensured the continuance of the unblemished record of no one falling off!

Tony, Norm, Rod & Gord
Our camels arriving
Patterns in the sand
Footprints in the sand

We then had time to take in the sunset before dinner however the cloud cover meant that it wasn’t a colourful end to the day. Maritta & Norm climbed to the top of Erg Chigaga & I admit I regret not doing the same.

Sunset
A window in the desert

Dinner was enjoyed in the main tent followed by some local music where Abdellah joined in playing the drums and Maritta entertained us with her rhythmic dance moves. Unfortunately the wind had come up & we were unable to enjoy a fire outside or star gaze but it was still a brilliant night.

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