Though the Sahara desert is enormous, the dunes cover only about 40sq kilometers. You can see them in the distance as I am approaching them.
Here is my guide, Idriss.
Approaching Merzouga with Camels.
Merzouga from the Oasis. The Oasis is essentially a large community gardening plot. It has a channel of water flowing through the middle of it that comes from the dunes. You divert the water for your crops as needed.
There are lots of date palms with annual crops planted amongst, good permaculture.
There are a handful of 4 star hotels catering to the upscale tourists. Here is the restaurant of one.
My ride. Ain’t she cute.
My guide. He is 21, a genuine Berber Nomad, herded goats till he was 12 then went to work in the tourism industry when the border with Algeria was closed. They used to leave a chunk open for the Nomads to pass, but it was abused by drug runners, so they closed the whole thing.
From the saddle it looks like you are riding an ostrich.
The dunes are incredibly beautiful.
Dune beauty. The Black mountains way in the background mark the border with Algeria.
Sitting on a tall sharp ridge. It is freezing cold and the wind is buffeting me. For a sense of scale, those brown rectangles to my left are the tents of the camps.
I am camped in a tent made of blankets. Next door are the Berbers.
Some of their homes look like children’s play houses.
My home away from home away from home. When I ask my guide where the bathroom is, he gestures towards the desert.
My guide cooked dinner for me too!
They make great faces. They’ll stop in their tracks and growl and grumble if they think they can’t make it up a hill.
So who’s the desert nomad?
Dune Beauty. The wind is always creating little sand zephyrs. They move like spirits over the dunes.
The sand shoes of the camel.
Idriss showed me his kasbah. This is a walled city where a group of people live together. What struck me most was the school. This is it. The young 14? year old girl is the teacher. The darling girl on the far right with the purple hands was so eager to learn.