Sunday, 29 December 2013

Desert heat

It feels like the Sahara has followed me home.

With the mercury on the rise in Brisbane town, everything is starting to adopt a shade of brown.  

This, coupled with the usual holiday exodus to the coast, means the city is looking like a desert in more ways than one.
The Sahara (or is it Brisbane this summer?)
But at least when I visited the Sahara in Morocco the temperature fell below 20 degrees Celsius at night for a bit of cool relief.

In fact, it was almost a little chilly in our desert tents (complete with double mattresses - I think you'd call it "glamping"!).

To reach our camp among the seemingly endless Sahara sand dunes, we had headed out on camels from our base hotel about an hour before sunset.  

Despite the ride being a little uncomfortable, I was happy to be sitting on a camel rather than in a car; it had been a hot, dusty and bumpy drive on a dirt road to get here.

Heading out into the desert on camels
As we were approaching the Sahara we could see its sand dunes looming on the horizon.  It was as if an invisible barrier was keeping the dunes at bay as they just rose out of the flat, stony plain.

The colours and shadows of the Sahara
Our base hotel was literally in the middle of nowhere, but we weren't staying here the night.  Instead we headed off on camels in search of our desert camp for the night.

Sunset shadows in the Sahara
Our guide, comfortable in his flip flops, led our camel train off into the dunes.  

Among the undulations of the sand dunes I quickly lost my sense of direction and distance.  Things that looked only a few steps away were in fact quite far across across a valley of sand.

A rare green sighting
Apart form the occasional tuft of grass or tree, it was sand as far as the eye could see.   

But with the fading sun, the dunes were taking on different shades of yellow and orange.  Deep shadows were also being cast by the wind-formed peaks.

The peak of a dune formed by the wind
We reached our desert camp before sunset, but then trekked up a large sand dune to watch the sunset from the top.  

With the dune collapsing under each footstep, getting to the top was a mammoth task where two steps forward usually meant one step back.  But we were rewarded with not only a vibrant sunset, but also the arrival of a full moon.

The full moon peaking up in the distance and our little desert camp in the foreground
Without the sun, the heat quickly evaporated and we headed back down to our camp for the night.   

The camp was cosy and comfortable.  Needless to say, if camping had been like this as a kid perhaps I would have enjoyed it more.   

And in contrast to the heat of the day, a cool night breeze meant I even had to pull up the blanket on my bed.

Our desert camp in the morning
Camels ready to head home in the early morning
We were awoken before sunrise to watch the sun make it's grand entrance for the day.   

In a blaze of glory, the sun was back and so was the heat.

Here comes the sun

The patterns of the Sahara

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