A camel ride was a high-lite of my trip to India last year with Intrepid so I was wondering if I would get the same thrill this year in the Sahara.
Mustapha recommended that we wear this regalia since the wind was starting to blow and this was the time of year for sand storms. After my experience at Abu Simbel, I bought this snappy blue scarf. And no, I cannot tie it on myself.
The blue matches my eyes.
Sand dunes in the distance.
We were instructed to bring overnight bags. Mine is the orange one that I used when I did the Coast to Coast walk across England a few years ago. If you click on the link, you will see me with a small umbrella. I have it with me on this trip but I haven't had to use it yet.
We passed several groups of camels on the way out to the Kasbah where we would mount our camels.
It's a very bumpy road.
Rike. She is from Witten in Germany and she brought her daughter along with her.
The dial on my camera was in the wrong position, but here are our camels.
Rike's daughter Julia rises up. She is a very experienced horse rider and she found the camel very easy to ride.
I struggle to swing my leg over onto the saddle.
I chose Whitey because he was not as fat as the other camels. I learned my lesson from the prior year when the insides of my thighs chafed.
The camels were formed into two groups of six camels each and they were kept quite close to each other. Fortunately this camel was not interested in biting my leg.
I've included quite a number of photos so that others in the group can see them. Here our German lady is mounting her camel.
The back rises first.
Then the front.
And away we go.
The handle is a huge improvement over the pommel on the Indian camels. It all felt much more comfortable and I was able to move my legs around more.
The shadows in the strong sun are fascinating.
Note how sharp the top of the dunes appear.
I would not want to be lost in this desert.
There are quite a few camel groups heading out to the desert camps but they all follow the few well trodden routes.
We arrived at our camp. The area where the camels rest is covered with these little balls of camel dung.
We dismounted. I almost fell off as the front legs went down.
Our camp site. There is electricity and toilets with water, but the water froze overnight.
After leaving our bags most of us decided to climb a nearby dune. The others made it to the top of the dune but this old codger decided that going up the dune to a point where I could still get a good view was enough. It was very hard work climbing the sand dune.
The others climbing.
The clump of stalks in front of me was home to a number of beetles that came out to investigate.
They said it was very windy up there but the view was good.
Eventually they had enough of the wind and ran down the dune.
It looked like fun.
Eventually we a gathered by my clump of grass and watched the sun go down.
It's magical sitting out there in the clean air watching the shadows and colours change.
Last gasp of sun.
There is something good about sitting with the others on a sand dune.
I ran down the hill and took this photo of them back by my clump.
There were three tents for the twelve of us, four to a tent. Each of us had a mattress and blankets.
Soup as first course for dinner.
Chicken and vegetable tagine. All of it was good.
Sitting around the fire later listening to our hosts and guides singing and playing on drums and Moroccan castanets. You can hear it below.
This map is upside down with north at the bottom. We were very close to Algeria.
The ride was about 3 km and took a bit over an hour.
I slept reasonably well, waking every few hours and then going back to sleep. As I went to sleep somebody off in the distance at another camp was playing "nessun dorma" in a very undistinguished performance. Here is Pavarotti and he knew how to sing it.
Some people off in the distance who could already see the sun rise.
Most of the the camels just sat in the same position the whole time. This camel was a bit more relaxed.
Eventually he got up and this is a fine example of the famous camel putting its nose into the tent.
Where the gang had run down the sand dune the day before.
The sun appears. It's magical to see it happen.
Note the long shadows. The sun is very bright.
The camps has three cats to keep mice away. We all sat on these small stools and my old body had trouble sitting down and especially getting up. As they say about old age, the alternative is worse.
It was quite cold. I slept with my beanie on.
Back on to the camels. The journey back was a little faster than the trip out. I was glad I did the ride again. Just look for the narrow camel.
All the camels were male. This time of year is mating season so they keep the sexes separate.