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Published: April 24th 2009
Just arrived & storm brewing in the distance
We take a fantastic drive this AM about 5 hours towards the mighty Sahara Desert. We see the rocky mountain to lush palmeries (valleys with date palms, fields and orchards.)
Our excitement builds as we see the huge sand dunes in the distance that get closer and closer to the right of us but on the left there is a storm building with dark blue clouds and lighting in the distance.
A contrast for sure - certainly we did not expect to have rain in the desert. Our destination is a small village of Merzouga. We no sooner pull up to the Kasbah and a sand storm hits us as we run for cover.
What an unexpected greeting.
We are stowing our luggage here and only taking our day packs with us on our journey out into the desert to a nomadic Berber family to spend the night with them in their tents and eat their food.
There was a brief rain shower and as we leave the kasbah we have a beautiful rainbow to view.
We take a thick blanket out to where the camels are and one by one we lay
SAHARA UNDER THE RAINBOW
Sandstorm, light shower & a rainbow. Only found more sand in the pot at the end
the blankets down on the saddle and take our seat while the camel driver gives the signal for the camel to rise and viola! we are atop a camel riding for about one hour through the desert to the camp.
We are visiting the Erg Chebbi Dunes which are some of the most stunning in all of Morocco. Some of the dunes tower over 150 meters and we are only about 20 kilometers from the Algerian border.
The shifting sands are mesmerizing and such a unbelievable opportunity to be experiencing.
When we get there most of us try to climb the dunes but soon find that it is easier said than done. Francine and I get maybe half way up. The sand is very fine and very soft.
Our tents are large and can easily sleep 6-8 people we only have 4, the winds pick up and the storm follows us to the desert. We stand outside in the dark and watch this brilliant light show in the sky The lightning is spectacular with strikes sparking horizontally across the sky. The rain finally reaches us and we run to the dining tent as it looks water
proof. That was a poor assumption. It leaked in almost every spot that had a join. However the Berber tents that we slept in were covered with thickly woven blankets on the top and kept most of the rain out and only allowed a fine mist to come through. Luckily it was a short shower.
Dinner was served and the meal was bread and tajine with chicken. To us this was one of the best meals so far.
The rain stopped and we all went outside to look at the fabulous sky!! Wow, just like I remembered from my childhood, a sky full of stars and the Milky way later that night.
After dinner, 2 Berber men played drums and our tour guide Taha joined them. We found out that Taha made a Moroccan Rap CD 3 years ago. Interesting!!
The bathroom was a tarp covered squat toilet with a bucket of water with a tea kettle in it to scoop out water to rinse the area when done. Ok until the morning after a lot of use. Francine devised a way to deal with it by putting tissues up her nose. A beautiful sight first
thing in the morning and a good laugh.
Anyway, not a bad nights sleep if you don't mind sleeping with blankets right off the camels back and having sand everywhere around you. It did get cool at night but not as cold as expected.
Angie woke up early 4:30 to watch the sunrise and Francine got up just past sunrise. It was a clear morning and the sunrise was nice. Several of us climbed a dune to get a better view.
Shortly after, we saddled up on our camels for the return trip. By this time our sore bums were not ready for the return but we sucked it up and for an hour tried to keep our minds off the discomfort. Francine had the boniest camel hump on the outward journey and ensured the return was much more padded.
We arrived back at the kasbah and loaded up our bags and freshened up as much we could.. We then ate a breakfast of Moroccan crepes, bread, cheese, and jam. We are now off to Todra Gorge.
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