Story in photos
We were out with a charity trek for the Scottish Society for Autism called “Bravehearts to the Sahara” - about 48 of us. That was in February 2003.
It’s not climbing in the Atlas, it’s basically trekking in the Sahara. We set off from a place called Ouarzazate, south of the Atlas mountains, in a bus into the desert. The bus just stops, you get off, a lorry carries the provisions, and there are about 16 camels as well. Some of them walked with us. The Discover Adventure company organised it, and planned the itinerary. We trekked for 5 or 6 days. Every day it was a different bit of the desert, a big sand dune over 1000 ft high called Shagaga – that’s the picture with the line of people climbing the sandy ridge. Then you can just run down it, it’s soft, one guy slid down on a bin-liner.
We had quite a lot of sandstorms, and it can be quite dangerous. My glasses were ruined – you need to take old specs! Other thing to watch out for are the luminous yellow scorpions – we saw them – so you have to watch when you put your hands down. They’re tiny things, like the toy ones kids play with for a bit of fun, but much more dangerous.
It’s quite hard going, walking in the sand. On a couple of occasions on the horizon we would suddenly see kids, they would run towards us because they thought we were mad, and they were curious. It was all sand desert (not rocky), but there were different sorts of sand. One day there’d be big sand dunes like Shagaga, with the sand blowing in the wind. On another day it was more like salt flats, caked, and another day we went through an oasis and suddently there was grass growing up through it. The backdrop in the distance was the Atlas mountains.
It was February 2003, so it wasn’t too hot, but at night we could sleep out on top of a sand dune and watch the stars. We did that, and you know how you get a funny feeling, there was a Berber tribesman standing at the end of the sleeping bag – like Obi Wan Kanobi. I pulled my hand out of the sleeping bag and waved, he waved back, it was absolutely spooky. We sort of waved to one another then he walked off. He’d only walked about 20 yards and it was as if he vanished, with the colour of his robes melting into the sand. At that time it was close to the start of the Iraq war, and it was a bit scary.
This November I’m leading a trek called the Momentum Big Birthday Challenge to the Sahara. So if anybody wants the details either e-mail me or call the hotline number which is 08702206787. The dates for the trek are 12-21 November and it’s back to Morocco.
Contributed by: Bill Cook
If you have any great walking photos, and a bit of a story about them, we'd love to hear from you.
Some stunning sand dunes
Beats the beach at Prestwick (seaside resort in Ayrshire, Scotland). This is Shagaga, the highest sand dune we climbed.
Image of the Sahara
The tents in a sandstorm
Waiting for Sunset
A young nomadic boy who was enjoying seeing the kilties
I know. This looks like it was taken with a background in a photo
booth! But it is real.