We arrived at around 9pm and after a moment of thinking we'd been forgotten and fending off about 5 touts trying to get business for their own companies we were met by our guy and headed to a lovely little camp (all mudbrick) just outside M'Hamid to have an amazing preserved lemon tajine for dinner and a good night's rest before heading off the next day.
We did 5 nights and 6 days of trekking. We took a very different route to the first time I did this trek and the landscape was even more spectacular. Our first day's trekking was pretty flat and we made it to a little patch of small dunes to spend the night. Matt and I were excited for our first dunes of the trek and walked up the biggest nearby (still only very small) to watch the sunset. It was lovely.
The night was truly freezing. We hung out with our guides in the large square tent and had some tasty tajine for dinner before zipping up in sleeping bags with blankets over the top in a tiny two man tent for the night.
The second day was quite a short trek to get to the Zahar dunes which were almost as spectacular as Chegaga. It was a pretty easy trek with the only difficulty finding a decent spot to cross the river (yes I said river...apparently it only runs in winter) where the camels wouldn't slip.
Once we got to Zahar we spent the afternoon strolling up and down and around the dunes before heading up the biggest of the lot to catch the sunset. Unfortunately heavy cloud meant the sunset was a bit lacklustre, but we had fun.
Thankfully it wasn't far to our camp for the night as we quickly discovered how disorienting dunes can be, when you have no landmarks as a guide you are very much relying on an innate sense of direction, which I'm pretty sure I don't have.
Thankfully Matt does and we could spot our camp after making our way up a couple of the dunes in its general direction.
The next day we put in the hard slog to get to Chegaga. The clouds made it a little more pleasant than the beating sun, but we also spent most of the day fighting against the wind whipping sand into our faces. I started to lag with some pretty gnarly blisters on my feet and rode one of the camels for a couple of hours that day.
It was just as uncomfortable as I remembered, but once you settle into the rhythm and remember to keep your core engaged it's almost hypnotic.
We got to Chegaga just in time fore sunset but didn't have enough time to get up the largest of the nearby dunes so we settled for a partial view over the sea of sand. Unfortunately the sunset wasn't the best thanks to the clouds but it was still pretty beautiful.
We made another expedition to the highest of the nearby dunes before heading off the next morning to really take in the site and get some photos. It was incredible. Just wave after wave of sand as far as the eye could see. It really was a sea of sand. The dunes were so high we had some birds just below riding the air currents.
The sun even decided to cooperate briefly so we could get some photos with the light. There is something awe inspiring about looking out over that much space without a soul in sight.
We were beginning to appreciate the winter weather a bit more as except for the freezing nights it made the days much more pleasant and the desert flowers were truly beautiful. There were fields of yellow. Purple patches and even some gorgeous pink and white ones dotting our path.
It was a stop/start kind of trekking day, I realised I'd lost my jumper just as we started out so Matt ran back to see if he could spot it. Also, one of the camels was loaded a bit lopsidedly, so the guides kept having to stop to try to readjust his load before it slipped off completely. We stopped for lunch under a proper tree right in the middle of nowhere and spent most of our day walking along the flat, rocky terrain that I remembered so well.
We checked out a well and overall had a pretty nice day. We probably didn't cover the distance our guides would have liked but that night we got one of the most amazing sunsets I have ever seen. The dust in the air cut out the glare and we watched the orange ball of the sun, perfectly spherical, slowly drop below the horizon. It really was an impressive sight though none of our photos quite seem to have captured it.
We trekked on and the final night we camped at a lovely green area where some nomads had their camels grazing. It felt very peaceful and relaxing. A nice way to end our trek. Our final day we were just keen to get back, have a shower and get into some clean clothes. We stopped for a long lunch (there was no such thing as a short one on this trek) and spent the entire time trying to hide from the wind.
I was particularly keen to get back as I'd had some sort of reaction and had blister type things on my hands which just seemed to be getting worse with the sun, heat and constant layer of sandy grit.
The shower was glorious when we arrived back in M'Hamid. The pressure was terrible and it was only hand held, but it was glorious!
The next morning we were up before the sun to eat some brekky and jump the 6am bus to Casablanca.