Monday, October 4, 2010

The Himalayas of the Sahara Desert - the Dunes of Merzouga, Morocco

The Dunes Of Merzouga

I wonder whether the same lush landscape elsewhere could possibly compare to the sight of luxuriant palms and the fertile fields surrounding, a desert oasis, an island of green amidst a vast sea of sand. The contrast is breathtaking.

Oasis in Morocco
We continue, seeking the source of the oasis. We arrive at a narrow pass in the mountains where we stop for lunch. A cold rushing stream runs through the sheer vertical rocks, an irresistible temptation in 115 degree weather.

(check out the mountain pass here)

We take a break at a hotel in the middle of nowhere for lunch. I hope to connect to the net which brings me to the topic of …
Electricity in Morocco
When it’s in a good mood.

4 x 4ing the Desert
Finally we get out of the bus and into some Land Rovers, which I note are caked in mud. This is intentional, as the mud absorbs the impact of screaming particles of sand in the blustery desert, saving the paint and the metal. We pack into the new camels of the desert and start trekking through the Sahara. The drivers playfully race with each other, as sand kicks up from our wheels. We are headed for camp through this sparse landscape. If you ever care to visit the directions are as follows.

Head due SE for somewhere between thirty to forty kilometers
Make a right at the tree Head East 5 km to camp.

The Dunes

Dunes of Merzouga
Original Star Wars shot here
Me and my camel amigo
At their peak, some dunes stand hundreds of feet tall; the Himalayas of sand. Their reddish-brown composition radiates an almost alien hue as the sun sets over these mountains. It’s no wonder George Lucas chose to shoot the original Star Wars here.

We are greeted at camp by a herd of camels and their tenders. Camels are actually quite expensive, the cheapest running $1,500, and Arab sheiks have been known to pay over a million for some, which I think is a tad high of a price to pay for a pet that is the planet’s most stubborn, and sounds like Chewbacca when it brays.

My camel rises unevenly, with a jerk. I have to hold on tight to keep from being thrown off. We climb the dunes atop these sure footed beasts. I gaze out over the Martian landscape. In small amounts it is breathtaking.
It is 120 degrees today. Being still Ramadan our guides are walking the dunes beside us haven’t had anything so much as a drop of water since sunrise. While their will power is commendable, as I pour water over my head and then take a giant gulp, at least today I am grateful not to born into the Islamic faith.
A death row inmate has a better chance against the electric chair than being dropped into the middle of Merzouga’s dunes . Climbing these dunes is hard, sweaty work, and in this parch, super-heated desert landscape where each dune is indistinguishable from the next, continually shifting and changing as Mother Wind dictates, there isn’t a single landmark to help you find your way.

(see the dunes up close)

When the desert wind blows, a tornado of sand develops, shifting the dunes, expanding them. The force is seemingly unstoppable. In 1970, a caravan of 5 SUV's got lost in one of these storms. In January of this year as the sands shifted, the gutted remains of the caravan was found, four decades later.
a group of Suffi Muslims providing the evenings entertainment via song
As mankind continues to erode the environment and deforest the land, the Sahara has conquered more territory than Alexander The Great ever dreamed of. The King Of Morocco has begun an environmental project of planting trees at the edges of the sand, hoping to one day claim back territory from the advancing desert.

Back at Camp
We return to camp, we sit in groups of four and share about ourselves and our realizations. As Tim speaks I am moved how despite all our seemingly diverse differences, how identical we all are at the core. No matter who you are, what experiences you have had, stripping away everything else, we are nothing but love.
Some of you might say, “People want the fancy car, the big house, the corner office, because then they’ll be ‘important,’ then they’ll be worthy of love. Not me, I don’t need all that, I just want to be loved.” …
My realization, well you’re part way of the way home, but I contend that when receiving love, your own true nature merely becomes more accessible, in focus. I figure if we are reminded of what we truly are enough times, one day we will not need any reminders, but rather walk in this consciousness on a twenty-four basis. That was my last real thought of the evening. I was exhausted, and fell sound asleep soon after. I’d say it was a really good day. Either that or I was suffering from heat stroke.
The incomparable Hamid, our guide, and soon to be crowned Dos Exxis "Most Interesting Man in the World"


  1. You're becoming a wise man, dude!

  2. As you slowly open your eyes to part of the Maghrib you will wonder why people in the United States bith so dam much about what they don't have... When most live like little obstinate kings and queens in Brentwood.


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