One night in the Sahara is not enough.
Our friendly Berber guide was 100% right about that. One night was definitely not enough. It all felt too rushed; not so relaxed. It would’ve been great to have another night of drinking tea, talking, playing music, and peering up into the endless universe of stars above us… But unfortunately we didn’t have that luxury.
After a long day on the road and a shorter than expected camel ride from modern civilization to the relative remoteness of the Sahara desert outside Merzouga, we stopped to watch the sun fall below the horizon. A nearby dune served as nature’s terrace for the daily spectacle unfolding before us. The sore thighs from the camel ride quickly faded from memory.
After reaching camp we were assigned tents then raced up the nearest sand dune to check out the view. Unfortunately for us the dune is apparently the tallest one in the country and it took quite some effort to reach the top. With sweaty determination we reached the top to catch the last vestiges of the golden hour. While laying on my back and gazing up at galaxies beyond reach I couldn’t help but remark at how the modern world seemed so small and so far away. To be fair it was actually only a few kilometres away… but lying atop that dune, modern life felt like a world away.
Dinner, Berber whiskey (aka heavily sugared mint tea), music, and a campfire rounded out the evening. It’s a common misconception that the Sahara is unbearably hot; in the middle of December it’s the complete opposite. It was SO cold at night. Thankfully there were just enough blankets to keep us warm. I woke up a few times because my face and head were freezing. Eventually I wrapped myself up into a cocoon to block out the bitter chill of the North African winter and slept straight through till the morning.
Braving the cold to wake up to the sun’s warming beams as dawn came and passed was totally worth the journey.
Once the sun climbed above the horizon, the serenity of the moment was broken with shouts of “yala”, which means “let’s go” in Berber. And just like that, we packed up our things and left just as we arrived: happy travelers on a camel’s back.