A Travellerspoint blog

Camels In Merzouga

Our friendly camels

30 °C

In Merzouga
We wake up and head upstairs onto the terrace for our breakfast. Unlike last night, we can now appreciate the reason for dining up here. On the third floor, there are views over the irrigated crops to the dunes that mark the start of the Sahara.
Breakfast view

Breakfast view


The other good news is that I have decided to be different and catch a cold in the desert.
We wait a while before heading off – we are getting used to Moroccan time, or holiday time for us.
We head nearby to see the Gnoua musicians who have brought their musical traditions from Mali up to Morocco in the distant past. They make a living playingmusic to tourists and foe special occasions. The music is very rhythmic and gets under your skin. We enjoy some Moroccan whiskey (mint tea) as we listen. We have several songs before they take a break. We get to look at their instruments and G teaches them a riff or two.
Gnoua musicians

Gnoua musicians

Ziggy played guitar...

Ziggy played guitar...


Take a break and get the footy out for a kick in the desert. G and I are a bit rusty.
The real football

The real football


On our way, we head around the corner to the surprising permanent lake that holds a huge flock of migratory white flamingos. They are camped over on the far side so it is hard to see any details, but there are plenty of them. The local trinket sellers appear out of nowhere (it is 2 kms of rocky track to Merzouga) and try to sell us anything.
For a change of pace, we head up to Al Rissani, about 30 kms away. We have a good wander around in the market which provides plenty of interesting sights, including food, clothes, souvenirs, trinkets and cheap chinese toys.
Fresh meat at Rissani Market

Fresh meat at Rissani Market

Spice store at Rissani Market

Spice store at Rissani Market

We only buy water and soft drink, not being too adventurous. We are still full from breakfast as well, so refills not required. We are noticing this at the moment that we are having large breakfasts so either lunch or dinner goes by the by.
Ready for the dunes

Ready for the dunes


Head back to the hotel for a rest before the night in the desert. L wisely gets her head down for a bit. G and I watch soccer on the telly – there are 5 different soccer channels on the free to air and another 7 if you can afford subscription! We thought that we were to be taken into the desert at 4pm, but with Moroccan time and the daylight savings changes we are chivvied outside at 6:30. We should learn to relax more but I was keen to get out.
We head out of the hotel, and there is our 4LD transport awaiting us. We are introduced to our guide Ali and our mounts and then on we get. I am first up, and a little unprepared for the steep angle of ascent as the camel straightens. G is barely on when the camel lifts and just manages to hold himself on. L is up too, and off we go. It is weird to be up so high, and to get used to the rolling, loping motion of the beasts. We are told that Ali has to lead them or they will just stop and do nothing. Mind you, even with Ali there, they appear to be determined to do nothing at times.
On Safari

On Safari


We are getting used to the movement and then we reach the sand. The change in surface leads to a change in gait and we feel like we have just started all over again. Then we start going up and down over dunes (just small ones) we have to lean back or forward or get pitched out. Ali stops us near the edge of one of the larger dunes and after having to catch L out of the saddle, leads us up for a look further into the desert. We can only see the start of the Sahara, but it covers the horizon and disappears out of sight, a really awe inspiring sight. I am glad we are just on the edge of it all. We see a number of groups passing though on the way to their own camp out under the stars.
Intrepid

Intrepid

G and Wedgie

G and Wedgie


the team (from left) Nugget, Wedgie and Eric Cantona

the team (from left) Nugget, Wedgie and Eric Cantona


Back on our mounts and on our way. We have now chosen names for our beasts. L is riding Nugget, due to the prolific number of same coming from his rear end. G has Wedgie, for obvious reasons and I am on Eric (ooh, aah) Cantona as that’s what he makes me say as we lurch over the sands. After a couple of hours we arrive at our campsite. It is not palatial, but it is made of rough woollen blankets and is probably realistic in that sense, not like the incredibly fancy ones I have seen on TV in Dubai.
Our sleeping quarters

Our sleeping quarters

berber dinner

berber dinner


Our host, Hameed, greets us off the camels and gives us a second to freshen up. We head over to the dinner tent, but it will be a lot more pleasant to be outside tonight. We have a mint tea and chat with Hameed, before we are served with dinner. We have bread and olives to start with, then Harira soup, a lightly spiced vegetable soup. The main course is again a tagine, but this time for a change it is meatballs, well spiced and in a tomato sauce, and it is without vegetables. Very nice. Last is fruit, as is usual. We relax afterwards with more tea with Hameed, chatting away, and then he plays the drums and sings. Each of us in turn try to accompany him on another drum, mostly without success.
We go for a walk into the dark to try and pick out stars and constellations. Unfortunately it has remained stubbornly clouded over the last few days and we can barely pick out the brightest stars. We talk about the desert animals and how they survive. We have seen some lizards, beetles and even a desert mouse. There were some desert fox cubs captured by the local kids earlier in the day, small sandy coloured things with massive ears to help them in the night. Hameed tells us how his family moved out of the desert when all their herd died, and he was born after that in Merzouga. He hates being in the town and is happiest when people pay him to take them to where he loves to be. His favourite is going into the desert for days at a time. I can appreciate it would be an amazing time, but my bum isn’t so sure right now.
We head to bed - it is quite warm in the tent thanks to the clouds, and we do not need all the warm clothing we have brought out especially for this night. We nod off to Hameed playing drums and singing to the desert.
We see Hameed again very soon as he wakes us to greet the Sahara dawn. Unfortunately the clouds have remained, preventing us seeing a Sahara sunrise. The clouds do present us with a beautiful display as the rising sun lights up the clouds. We sit around and enjoy it a bit longer as Hameed drags G down the dunes on his bum.
Sahara sunrise

Sahara sunrise

Sahara dawn

Sahara dawn


We mount up on Nugget, Wedgie and Eric again and squeak our way back to the hotel. L dismounts more demurely this time, and we bid our new friends farewell. Inside for a shower to remove the sand from every crevice and then onto the terrace for some breakfast.

Posted by lostagain 11:08 Archived in Morocco

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Be the first to comment on this entry.

This blog requires you to be a logged in member of Travellerspoint to place comments.

Login