11/4/08

Erg Chigaga, Morocco


It's dusk as our 4WDs moved out of M'hamid, a village at the edge of the Sahara where the long road that took us from Ait Benhaddou literally disappears in the desert. Two more hours of off-road journey on a rocky hammada desert and we finally made it to our desert camp at 8 pm. We're all tired, hungry and sore on our butt but Alhamdulilah, we made it to Erg Chigaga, Morocco's largest sand dunes. I could barely see the outline of the dunes at this time but a sunrise view tomorrow ought to be perfect.



On our way to M'hamid, we passed by the very fertile Draa Valley. This is a region of Berber villages and crumbling kasbahs surrounded by palmeraies. It's nothing like I imagine a pre-Saharan valley would look like. We stopped by Tamegroute and had a guided visit of its library filled with ancient Korans and scripts.



In M'hamid, we stowed our main luggage with the chartered van as we only need our daypacks for our overnight stay in the desert. Just before sunset, we rode on camels past palm groves outside the village before rejoining our 4WDs for the trip to Erg Chigaga.



Night time in the desert means a bajillion of stars visible to my eyes that I couldn't see in New York. It's a blissful moment lying down there on a mat looking heavenwards while waiting for our al fresco dinner of beef Tajine. Even if it's cold, it's still a beautiful starry starry night.

 
Day 6
Sunrise in the sand dunes is quite an experience. I got out of our tent fast as I had to pee - I've been holding on to my full bladder as I felt too lazy to find my way towards the makeshift toilet in the bitter coldness of pre-dawn Sahara. Now that I'm relieved, I could clamber up this 150-meter high sand dune, mafi mushkila!



At the top of the dune, we got ourselves a grand view of more sand dunes - the stuff that some Hollywood movies are made of. Depending on the time of day, the dunes glow from golden to a reddish hue. I basked in this glory of a desert sunrise, of its deafening silence broken only by the winds and Steve's call for us to have breakfast.



We broke camp and got into the 4WDs for another piste journey parallel the length of Erg Chigaga. I learned from the driver we're only 50 kms. away from the border with Algeria. After 2 hours of off-road travel, we entered back into civilization in Foum Zguid where our van was waiting. Taroudant is our next destination today.

4 comments:

  1. Thanx for your infos on Morocco's. Man you're so well travelled

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  2. Tanya Dioguardi6:52:00 PM

    OH wow Dennis.. these pictures are absolutely amazing....you have inspired me to get a new camera and probably do a photography course prior to my next trip !!

    Hope you are doing well

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anonymous2:11:00 PM

    My daughter is there now. Just trying to get a feel for what is in store for her. It seems like that won't happen. I can't wait to hear her stories and see her pictures.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anonymous6:16:00 AM

    Been here, done the 100km trek. Met Berbers, camels, nomads & run down Chigaga Bear Grylls style & would thoroughly recommend the awe inspiring beauty of the whole humbling experience to absolutely everyone! :D

    ReplyDelete

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