Middle Atlas Mt
Sahara 1
Sahara 2
Final Thoughts

© 5 June 2005


Sahara Desert

Picture Pages:  Erfoud  |  Sunset  |  Campfire  |  Sunrise  |  Erg Chebbi Berber Toboggan  |   Camel Ride  |  Rissani  |  Mausoleum  |  Lunch

Erfound is a small trading village - gateway to the Sahara Desert, where we changed to 4-wheel drive Land Rovers.  It was almost sunset and still about 50 km to our camp in the Merzouga area.  We stopped on the way to witness a nice sunset then continued on dirt roads, getting to our camp when it was almost dark.

The Sahara Desert is as big as the United States.  It is only 15% sand with great ergs, the sand seas, and are among the most exquisitely beautiful landscapes.  It is growing larger every year as drought turns pasture back to sand.

There was a quick orientation - tent assignments, rules for using the latrine tent and showers.  The land around the dunes is free from the government.  All one has to do is rope or fence an area and then develop it.  Our camp was at the base of the 800 foot Erg Chebbi dune, the tallest in Morocco.  No other camps were close.  After dinner, we were treated to some local entertainment with music and dancing around a campfire.

We were advised that sleeping on a cot under the stars was OK.  None of the group did so, we were just to tired to move cots around.  And it a good thing.  The wind, sirocco, was blowing so hard it kept most of us awake.  The friendly guide came by each tent for a 0500 wake-up call, if we wanted to hike up the Erg Chebbi sand dune and witness the sunrise.

Almost the entire group started to hike but only 3 of us made it to the top.  What a great view of the surrounding dunes and the changing colors as the sun rose.  We had the added benefit of doing the Berber toboggan down the dunes - that was a lot easier then going up.  On the way back to camp there were camels and riders by the dunes.

After breakfast, and packing our bags, we got to select a camel for a ride to the nearest kasbah (about one hour away).  There we had a short rest and then it was a race across the desert in our vehicles.  I think each driver wanted to be in the lead.  We hit speeds of almost 100 kph.

The dusty town of Rissani was our next stop.  We visited a local home of Fatima and her 3 children; 20 month old, 3 and 12 year old.  We were offered mint tea and peanuts and chatted for awhile.

The next place we visited was the mausoleum of Mulay Ali Cherif, an historic figure that started a ruling dynasty in the area in the 17th century.  Lunch was at a nice kasbah where we were allowed a chance to lay down and rest for about an hour. (Some of us were up at 0500.)  We were on the road again by 3 p.m.

The next 3 hours was mostly desert driving to our second Sahara camp in the Fezzou area.