Secrets of the Sahara

The  Sahara: So mysterious

The Sahara: So mysterious

January 7, 2010 – Sahara Desert, Moroccan – Algerian border

I’ve been seduced and her name is the Sahara. Let me tell you her secrets.

Secret #1:   Sand

The colors of the sand are amazingly varied, ranging from the pale yellow buff to rosey reds.  And the rippled designs carved into each dune are even more beautiful. As the sun changes, so do the shadows across the dunes, creating shifting shapes and contours in the sand.

It was on this monumental and moving sand, that I had the opportunity to visit virgin dunes – that is until I rode my ATV over them – oh yeah! I’m not proud of the destruction, but it was a blast ripping across the desert!

Getting ready to rip across the dunes

Getting ready to rip across the dunes

I even tried my hand at sandboarding. Operative word, of course, is “tried.” Video of the entire effort coming soon!

Secret #2:   Stars

There were a bagillion stars in the Saharan sky. I counted. A bagillion. No light pollution – just an unobstructed view of the heavens. And so we counted starts at night, lying out in the dunes and staring straight up. I counted at least 6 shooting stars that one night and made the same wish every time.

I’m hoping for a compounding effect.The night sky was so inviting, 7 of us decided to spend the night in the open air, despite the bitter January cold. We dragged our blankets (none of us have sleeping bags) to the edge of camp and snuggled in for the night.

Our conversation that night focused on the important topics: the future of mankind and the possibility of living forever. Heady stuff as we stared into space.

Sand camp, even better than band camp

Sand camp, even better than band camp

Secret #3:   Sounds

The sounds of the desert were two-fold: the singing and drumming of our caravan drivers and the silence.

Our hosts lead our camel train by day, cooked our dinner, then sang to us at night – true Renaissance men.

We set up camp only 25 miles from the Algerian border, next to the tallest dune in all of North Africa, towering 150 meters beside us.

After dinner, we were treated to a palm-frond campfire.

Renaissance Man
Renaissance Man
Playing the midnight drums

Playing the midnight drums

As we sat fire-side, we took turns joining in the drumming circle, beating on goat-skinned drums. The drumming was punctuated by bits of singing and calls as the fire burned out. 

Memorable morning commute

Memorable morning commute

The next morning we were up before dawn to greet the sunrise on camelback.

The silent ride out of the dunes in the morning quiet was mesmerizing and one of the highlights of the trip.

How could I have imagined a place such as this? I have the most precious memories of that immense and mystical place.


A true gift from my Sahara sweetheart.



This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 12th, 2010 and is filed under Arab Region.

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