The Sahara is Arabic for the “The Great Desert” and it certainly lives up to its name. Spread across a huge 3.6 million square miles, feeling completely insignificant was a common feeling throughout our stay amongst the sand dunes. It is the world’s largest hot desert and one of the harshest environments on the planet, yet we survived it. (just! I got very ill the day we left but so glad it didn’t hit me while I was there).
The drive to Erg Chigaga took 10 hours and I didn’t get bored once; gawking at the spectacular and changing landscapes was mind-blowing. First we passed through villages that resembled that of ancient times with clay houses, cute looking hotels and superstitious stares from locals. We then started the meticulous climb on very narrow windy roads through the magnificent Atlas Mountains and then onto vast barren rocky plains with nothing in sight except tumbleweeds and real life nomads – no word of a lie. Then to speeding along salt flats and through sandstorms and lastly lurching over sand dunes Mad Max styles. A helpful tip; don’t drink too much water during this last 3 hour leg. There aren’t many trees to ‘go’ behind……
Our camp was like something out of a movie set; and I really felt like a bohemian princess when we were shown our tent. Our bathroom was very simple with a large tin bucket and a seat for a shower, a metal basin with a water dispenser attached, and an actual toilet seat. Phew! Even though it was simple, it still felt so elegant and like I had stepped back in time. There were hammocks, pouffes and rugs plonked in between tents to kick back on and marvel at the serenity of the desert.
The first night we mingled with the rest of the camp-goers and heard marvellous stories about their lives and travel escapades, were served a delicious 3 course meal and got to know Bobo; the camp manager. He described the desert as “yoga for the mind” and he certainly wasn’t wrong. Our days were spent being completely present, phones at the bottom of our bags, our heads in books, lounging around in hammocks, riding camels to nearby oasis, writing in journals, and of course taking photos. The rest of the world felt miles away and it was so refreshing to be alone with my thoughts rather than mindlessly scrolling on social media.
Our nights were spent sitting around the campfire, sipping on Moroccan wine, eating delicious tagine and star-gazing all the while listening to the Berber’s traditional music and songs. Our last night was the highlight; we took the 4WD to one of the tallest sand dunes and watched the sunset. It truly resembled an explosion in the sky and it was so majestic witnessing the changing colours not only in the sky, but of the sand also.
The experience took the meaning of a simple life to a whole new level and it’s safe to say I fell in love with the desert.