As the sun started it’s decent on the hazy horizon we were about to begin an adventure. Camels sat waiting patiently lined up and saddled, we chose our positions and climbed on. We started our trek to the desert camp over the glorious sand dunes, pale red and smooth. Like a thousand tiny hills nestled together over the vast dusty desert. After the initial excitement of riding a camel on the sand dunes of the Sahara desert I started to fully take in the experience.
The rhythmic rocking of the camels steps sent me into something like a trance as I stared thoughtfully out into the space which seemed like another planet. The beauty was unimaginable, soft thin sand smoothly rolled in humps across the land, the sun low in the sky sent small streaks of evening light through the dense clouds. As time wore on I was calmer than I had ever been before on this trip, I let the camel’s stepping rhythm rock me gently and I closed me eyes, I counted slowly to 60 in beats along with the camels step and I forgot where I was, what I was doing, I channeled my thoughts into nothing but the numbers I counted. When I got to 60 I opened my eyes, slowly, and the splendor hit me all over again, it was like going into a dream where everything was so beautiful it almost seemed fake. I thought of nothing but the rolling sand and the sinking sun.
The light gradually faded away and we arrived at the desert camp to the sounds of other camels softy humphing and breathing loudly.
Down we went and I said goodnight to the camels before we stumbled across the soft sand into a circle of small tents, made from only a few logs and some material and blankets tied across the floor and walls. A little less civilized then we expected but, hey, it’s all part of the experience. All the campers gathered in a more sturdy tent (20 of us), 4 speaking English, 4 speaking Spanish and the rest speaking French. We had a traditional tagine dinner.
Then we retreated out into the middle of our tent circle where a few blankets had been laid out. We sat In a circle and gazed up at the stars, like silver glitter sprinkled across black paper. The guides came out and started playing traditional percussion instruments which echoed into the night.
After a while we retired to our small tent and comfied ourselves (not really) in sand filled beds where the wind blew through cracks in the ‘walls’. I dozed for a few hours only to wake and lie staring up at the roof where I could see the bright moon through the blanket above for hours. I slowly drifted back to a more comfortable sleep after a trip to the toilets.
The soft clapping of hands echoed through the desert as our wake up call and the stirring of people started to be heard. We clambered out of the tent into the dark and hastily got ready to get straight back on the camels. As we rode, soft rays of sun started to appear on the horizon and the desert slowly grew lighter, enough to see the purity and calmness of what surrounded us. Never before had I been in a place where I felt so at peace with where I was and who I was. The soft sand seemed even softer then the previous evening and the dunes even smoother. We arrived at a larger dune and dismounted, settling ourselves on a blanket and watching the sun rise, slowly lighting the world around us. I sat there thinking how barley I could really believe where I was and what I was doing. Truly incredible.
We got back on the camels and travelled on the edge of the sand dunes where it was flat. I could hardly help myself from grinning from ear to ear with the mood that I was in despite how tired I was. As we arrived back at the base hotel and had breakfast, my mind was filled with sand, the rolling dunes and the soft rhythm of the camels tread. As I play it over in my mind again and again I know that this will be an experience that I will never forget.