Desert camp in the Sahara

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At the Berber desert camp, the drums rhythmically rocked us to sleep. Our hair and clothes were full of sand after trekking 1.5 hours through the blood-orange Sahara to reach the camp. The mountains of sand stretched far and wide as we clutched our camels who faithfully followed their berber guide.

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Immediately we fell into a deep slumber, feeling the motions of our bodies rocking back and forth on the camels, watching the candlelight flicker against the bright colours of the tent canopy.

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It was an early morning for us in order to catch a sunrise ride, and by the sounds the camels were making, they were not happy campers! Even less so when my saddle detached and I found myself sliding down the camel’s neck, madly cling on before hitting the firm golden sand.

I limped up a knife-edged dune with Joel to behold the rising sun and the procession of camels illuminated orange in the morning light. We felt as though the desert was both barren but with a sense of majesty and peace about it.

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This was starkly contrasted by the return to the vehicle and Salah’s death defying stunts. He decided to take us on a remote desert road where I wouldn’t have believed life could have existed. As usual, you find that humans have this supernatural ability to adapt to the most inhospitable terrain possible. Yet, as always, Lachen and Salah appeared to be on the social scene in each town, even acting as couriers of cash village to village! Here is an example of some of the varied terrain we travelled through:

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Joel and I did not tire of Salah’s outrageous driving, singing and Berber outbursts. Even funnier was Lachen’s embarrassment!!! Again we were struck by the Berbers own way of conducting affairs, as Lachen spotted a man on the side of the road and called for the car to be pulled over, He proceeded to pay this man 100 dirham, explaining that he borrowed it 10 months earlier. They must have memories like elephants and more than their fair share of integrity.

We passed through the towering Todra Gorge and onwards to Ait Benhaddou. We felt like tossed spaghetti by our arrival, and it was with shaky legs that we complied with Salah’s sudden request to climb upon the bonnet of his beloved car for a photograph!

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Joel and I devoted our last burst of energy to exploring the Kasbah of Ait Benhaddou. It looked like the winner of the world championships of sandcastle building – an adorable town built higgilty pigglety on top of each other by the banks of a river. The town glowed golden in the afternoon light as we haggled with shopkeepers over rugs and berber goods. One of the shopkeepers even tried on Joel’s top for size – contemplating swapping some goods for it – a true nomad!

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Rug-less we retreated for dinner, and an extremely humorous conversation around late into the evening with Lachen and Salah – mainly centering around Salah’s wife being displeased about his roaming of the river to find “Sahara women” all afternoon!!! We genuinely connected with both of them and our cheeks were all hurting as we fell victim to the early start and collapsed into bed still chuckling away. It was most certainly these moments of being fully immersed in their culture (prayer time and all) that made this a truly unforgettable trip.

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