“I have always loved the desert. One sits down on a desert sand dune, sees nothing, hears nothing. Yet through the silence something throbs, and gleams…” Antoine de Saint-Exupery – The Little Prince
Rose gold hills appear in the distance, looking like a mirage with the heat shimmer rising from the land between us and them. Yes…finally there were sand dunes.
This is what I'd been waiting for. We were off on camel safari, into the desert, to stay overnight in Bedouin tents.
The dunes of Erg Chebbi, rise majestically over the town of Mergouza, to heights of 160m. They stretch for 22 kilometres and are 5 kilometres wide. This is one of the easiest and most popular places for tourists to access the Saharan desert in Morocco.
Blocking out the other camels and riders, it's easy to believe you are the only person on earth. The stillness and expanse of the desert have a way of putting you at peace, and everything else simply falls away. Look carefully though and there is life and movement. Scarab beetles scurry through the rippled landscape of slowly but ever shifting sands. Lone date palms spring up from mostly dried up waterholes. Closer to the camps a donkey peaks over the desert grasses ears and head just visible.
A long climb to the top of a dune gives us the perfect vantage point to watch a spectacular sunset. With each movement of the sun, the sand dunes change colour, from rose gold to flaming orange until finally dusk descends.
Dinner is a simple but delicious affair, olives, tagines and oranges, cooked by our camel driver. After dinner the entertainment, an interactive session involving drums, singing and dancing, all illuminated by the soft glow of a campfire and a sky full of heavenly lights. We choose to sleep under the stairs rather than in our tents.
Compared to sunset, sunrise is a much more gentle experience, soft pink hues rather than fiery reds – but in its own way, still as spectacular.
After the build-up it seems strange that I have little to say, perhaps I'm overwhelmed by the wonder of it all. As with riding through the desert though, it seems best to just keep quiet and let pictures not words tell the story.