The Sahara and Todra Gorge

Sunrise in the Desert and Todra Gorge – May 11, 2017

After dinner, three men (two possibly Berber) played drums, joined by our guide. They were amazing. However, after our long day of being in the van, we went to bed. Since we didn’t see the sunset on the camels, we met up at 5:00 AM to ride the camels up the sand dunes to see the sunrise.

Our thirteen camels were sitting on the sand, tied together in two groups, waiting for us. I was the second one to mount and he was quite large. They are very tall and I held on for dear life. A half an hour walk and we were at the base of a large sand dune. The wind was blowing gently. We dismounted the camels and walked up the dune to await the sunrise. The full moon was behind us and the sun in front.

The sand is the color of red clay (duh) and very fine. We then returned to our trusty camels, who are very happy to have their heads rubbed before the trip back to the hotel. Other groups were near us on camels, so we had quite a large contingency. At the hotel, we had breakfast and took off for our next stop at the gorge.

We arrived about four hours later to find a lovely hotel with a pool (a very cold one, although the Canadians thought it was divine) and a large room with a balcony overlooking the gardens. The view from the hotel looks at huge red rocks, not unlike Golden, Colorado, near Boulder. Our lunch was a fabulous treat of fresh orange juice and a Berber omelette, or shashouka, because it has poached eggs on top. Yum!

After lunch, we took a long walk in the valley and saw plots of land growing alfalfa. The plots were bordered by a variety of olive trees, date palms, fig, pomegranate and nectarine trees. The owners irrigate the land from perfectly clear streams that are diverted to their plots. We then hiked to a group of abandoned adobe houses facing newer ones across the valley, near the road and electricity. It was a long walk, but great to meet some of the local people.

Time for a swim or a nap. We opted for the nap. At 5:30, we met up to see the Todra Gorge. It has a 300 meter rock face and is an awesome presence. There is a hotel at its base, with a restaurant that was damaged some time ago by giant boulders. Many people were killed or injured. There were rock climbers trying their hand at going up the rock face.

Time to go back for dinner. Good vegetable soup and more tagines, with melon for dessert. Some of the group are teaching our guide to play poker, so I am catching up with the blog.

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