Day 6 Thursday 29 Dec to the Sahara
We had a sweet breakfast comprising bread, tea cake, crepes and Danish with honey, jams and natural yoghurt with American style coffee and milk before being collected for our day.
Our first stop was the Valley of the Roses where snow melt creates sufficient water for an annual crop of small roses grown on trees. We purchased some rose cream jars at 100 Dirham each. The rose trees have tiny flowers.
Next stop was a Berber town where we had a great view of the city lining a fertile valley.
We then drove to a small town in the Dades Gorge where we met a guide who took us on a walk which lasted more than an hour to where the spring started that fed the fertile valley.
We walked through the family gardens, seeing them harvest alfalfa, bamboo for building and repairing their mud brick homes. We also saw women washing their clothes in the clear stream. Looking up we saw rock climbers on different points across the rock walls.
Of all of things I have done on a holiday this part left some indelible memories.
Part of this took us to an ‘authentic’ home to see how local carpets are made.
The show was identical to the one we endured in the Medina in Marrakesh, perhaps a little less hard sell and we were able to escape more easily and felt happy to leave them a tip.
When we reached the top of the gorge we were taken to the point where the water comes from the ground where we saw nomadic Berber women filling their 4 litre plastic water bottles for their caravan. This must be a very tough life and we saw a number of men and women tending goat herds as we journeyed to our final handover point for the day at Erfoud.
The road to Erfoud seemed to get progressively drier with increasing numbers of date palm plantations.
When we arrived there we transferred our luggage to our new driver Mustaffa in his Toyota Prado and then enjoyed the 45 minute trip to the campground and dunes at Erg Chebbi, near Merzouga.
We arrived too late for our camel ride and after checking in to our nice permanent tent which had proper toilet and shower facilities we wandered up to a nearby dune to watch the sun drop below the dunes in the distance.
To me a beautiful sunset is accompanied by colours in scattered clouds across the sky or with dust in the air. This evening was very clear.
Dinner was at 830 and we had a barley soup which was delicious, eggplant, zucchini and tomato tagine second, chicken and vegetables 3rd with a fruit salad of banana, apple and mandarine for dessert. After dinner we were treated to a musical interlude comprising violin and two drummers who performed local music with vocals and dancing. Bed after 1030 pm with target of making our camel ride at 730 am tomorrow.
Day Seven 30 December 2022
We woke in the dark and were pleasantly surprised that we could have some breakfast before our camel ride.
Our camels were waiting for us at 7.30 am sharp and Ainsley mounted first at the back followed by Karen and then me at the front. Our camel leader walked in front and we walked about 15 minutes to a high dune where we dismounted to wait for the sunrise. It was very cold and camel driver offered Ainsley his over coat to keep warm.
The sun rose about 810 am giving us the opportunity for some pictures before heading back to camp, packing úp and hitching a ride with our Prado driver back to Erfoud.
Here our driver was waiting for us and we boarded for our long drive to Fez.