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The Dunes

Thursday January 17, 2013   

Whoohoo…

Erg Chebbi

I wanted adventure and today I certainly got it, biting off just a little more than was really comfortable – but boy was it worth it!

Leaving Erfoud I took the back road marked as the R702 on the Michelin map. It soon became clear this wasn’t a road in the normal sense of the word though…

The R702 road from Erfoud

For some reason they had set up a diversion, hence the stones in the photograph above. As I said, I wanted a challenge and it looked rideable(?) so I set off down it. Where it was hard packed or covered with the small black stone chips it wasn’t too difficult, but when it turned to (deep-ish) sand I found the weight of bike just too much and even pushing the bike was a struggle.

Looks easy. It wasn’t, but I could see my prize in the distance.

When the tracks became too soft, I ended up riding on the stone chips which varied in size, being careful to negotiate around the bigger ‘rim busting’ ones. It required a lot of concentration and certainly added to the tiredness I felt at the end, as it had taken me a little over 5 hours to ride the 30 km from Erfoud.

It was often easier riding alongside the tracks.

I spotted my first camels just as I was approaching the outskirts of Hassilabied, a small village at the edge of the Erg Chebbi desert. There were hotels, auberges and camping sites all along the horizon and many European style camper vans parked up too.

My first sight of camels, Hassilabied

The highest dune was easily visible and looked closer than it actually was (don’t they always?) but I was still determined to get to the top. Once there I was joined by some local wildlife and a little later, a couple of Italians on a 3 week holiday in Morocco.

Me, sat on top of the highest dune!

The painted lady that joined me on the top.

I spotted a few more camels too, including a local guide taking tourists on a tour of the dunes. As the sun was quickly fading, that was my motivation to run down the dunes and try and get in front of them. If the picture looks shaky, it’s because I was in oxygen debt!

Camels wandered about as the sun was setting.

I had run from the top to get this photo!

I have taken so many pictures of this wonderful place, it really is a magical experience and one that I am certainly glad I’ve now collected. Haven’t quite decided where next, so stay tuned for the next episode…