March of the Camels: The Sahara Desert

Everyone, I think it’s time I introduce you to my ATLAS.Years ago, I compiled a well thought-out list of achievements I’dlike to accomplish during my travels. I add new things to the list whenever I think of something different, so it’s always slowly growing! Technically, it’s what most people would consider a bucket list. Call it what you like, but I like to refer to it as my ATLAS (Adventure Tasks List of Awesome Stuff). I’ve only shown a few people my ATLAS and they loved the prospect of it. I started this list even before I began blogging and I have managed to accomplish some tasks on it back then. I’ll be sure to tell you all the stories about it one day but right now I’m focused on the current task at hand – task #2: Spend a night under the stars in the Sahara. By the way, this list is in no particular order whatsoever.

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We arrived in the foothills of the desert around 6 pm, about 40 minutes until sunset. Our guide informed us to leave our big bags in the van and to just take our small bags with us for when we ride our camels. Chris and I immediately changed into our Sahara nomad attire we bought in Marrakech. We were now fit for the occasion! We looked so fly, I think the others in our tour group were a little bummed they didn’t think of the idea too. How could you not? Anyways, one of the desert leaders took us to the area where they kept all of their camels. I noticed the camels here only had one hump as opposed to two humps. Interesting. They were all obedient and well mannered as they rested on the ground waiting for us to mount them. Either it was completely random or we were placed on camels specific to our weight. My camel had dark brown fur and continuously slurped on the rope that was in his mouth. It’s the one photo-bombing the picture below.

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There were about 20 or so camels in groups of five or six. Each camel was connected by a rope in order for them to follow a line easier I suppose. There were no tips or guidelines to
riding a camel other than to hang on!

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Thankfully, it wasn’t nearly as hot as I expected it to be. The sun was going down and there was a cool breeze in the air. It was perfect! My camel was strong, nimble, and also very
gassy! I had to hold my breath a couple times because my camel, the camel in front, and behind me were letting loose some air the whole time! I didn’t care though; the landscape, the giant dunes of the Sahara, the camels themselves, everything was going great! At one
point, our desert leader stopped my line of camels over a dune so we could watch the sunset.

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Beforehand, we were informed that we would be on the camel for an hour and a half but we were actually riding them for almost two hours. I started to grow concerned that I was
getting heavy for my new matted-haired friend but he (she?) didn’t seem tired or fatigued at all and kept marching on. I’m not going to lie though, after awhile sitting on that camel, my crotch was starting to kill me. I wasn’t the only one. Chris even tried to lay on top of his camel to keep comfortable. There was really no way to get cozy up there so we just had to ride it out until we reached our campsite.

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We arrived at our camping grounds for the night and the guide motioned for our camels to rest on the sand so we could dismount. Once I got off, I saw the sand littered with balls of
camel poop everywhere and that I was stepping right in it!

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We walked a few yards to a few large tents. We picked our tent, set our stuff aside, and went into the middle of the campsite to mingle with everyone. We hadn’t a clue what time
dinner was going to be served or even what dinner was going to consist of. Why was it taking so long?! As I was patiently waiting for our dinner, I pointed my camera up at the night sky to take a photo. But just like the night before, the moon was so bright that it practically lit up the sky. I took a picture of the moon anyways but started moving the camera around, and this is what I came up with.

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That gave us the idea for Chris and I to get creative with the lights at our campsite! There were a few lamps that were staked into the ground that made for great portable lights to get flashy with. I set the shutter speed as low as I could and we found a place just a few feet away from our tent to test our lights. I’ve never done anything like this before so this was mostly experimenting. We began by just drawing our names, and then random objects that we each had to guess what the other was drawing. Eventually, other people in our tour group took notice and joined in on the light games.

We ended up doing this for a good half-hour before we were summoned for dinner. What was on the menu? More chicken tagine. But this time, each table was given a single giant portion to share between about six people. Directly behind our campsite, was the tallest dune around as far as we could tell. Chris and I decided to go up the hill right after dinner but we severely underestimated the difficulty of getting up a steep mountain of sand. We would literally crawl up the dune for about two minutes and take a break for about ten. Our feet would sink a few inches into the sand every time we took a step. It sucked the wind out of us and we weren’t in any rush anyways, so we took our sweet time. Every time we thought we reached the summit, there was another higher summit just behind it! It took a little over an hour to get to the top but it was definitely worth it. I brought an empty water bottle with me and collected sand from the top of the dune to add as part of the “special gift” perk. Out of all the sand I collected so far, this sand was the finest of them all! Afterwards, we ran back down the dune back to our campsite. I overheard one of the guides saying we would be waking up at 5 am to ride our camels back through the Sahara. With that, I immediately went to bed. The next morning, everyone actually woke up and got ready around 6:30 am. I put on my Sahara garb and went over to where the camels were.

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I rode the same, foamy-mouthed camel I had yesterday. Since it was early in the morning, the temperature was quite cool. I preferred it because I bet riding a camel during the midday during the hottest hours would be miserable! It took just under two hours to arrive back to the starting point.

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I dismounted my camel and said goodbye to my buddy. My camel was pretty strong and never showed any signs of fatigue at all! I changed into normal clothes and we all went back in the van. Besides stopping for lunch a little later, we had nothing planned for the rest of this tour. We just had to endure a long, sweaty van ride back to Marrakech! Check item number two off my ATLAS. 🙂

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Author: Adventure Born

I'm Daniel. A cereal lovin', traveling machine from Michigan on a solo journey around the world, documenting and sharing my unexpected tales from abroad. My aim is to inspire people like YOU to discover your very own adventures. The world is truly too big not to explore it!

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