For a lot of vacationers, that is it. The entire cause to discover northern Africa, and what they spend their complete journey ready for. The mighty Sahara Desert—roughly the scale of the decrease 48 United States at three.5 million sq. miles—the place summer season temperatures can hit 117 levels.
Simply earlier than sundown, we dropped the bikes off on the village of Merzouga (on the sting of the desert and near the extremely patrolled border of Algeria) and took a 30-minute journey in a 4WD to a Berber camp among the many 1,100-foot-high dunes. To barter the deep sand and inclines, our BMWs would have wanted specialised paddle tires or riders with monumental ability within the sand.
With dinner of Moroccan salad and rooster Tajine round a campfire shared with a bunch of semi-nomadic Touareg males, carrying their conventional indigo blue turbans and scarfs, it was a magical evening. Later we climbed a big sand dune underneath a superbly black sky brimming with stars.
We ultimately returned to sleep in our Bedouin tents, deep within the desert, to the sound of silence, having taken the precaution of leaving our boots the wrong way up to keep away from undesirable visits by lizards, scorpions, or snakes. I realized desert foxes stay right here too, however happily don’t slot in a boot. We noticed their tell-tale tracks within the morning once we climbed the dunes once more to observe the dawn—the rays turning the silent, gray panorama right into a kaleidoscope of gold, bronze, pink, and orange. A distant camel prepare, atop the ridge of a distant sand dune, accomplished the Lawrence of Arabia scene.
One other unforgettable vacation spot is the extinct volcano Gara Medouar, close to Erfoud. Residence of two,800-foot-tall crater partitions, it was as soon as used to carry African slaves being offered to Portugal—therefore it’s nickname: the ‘Portuguese Jail’. The gravel entry highway is plagued by ruts and dips, and I misplaced the entrance quite a few occasions in patches of deep sand. However the sights are dramatic. It’s not each day rock formation or crater makes you need movie a film there. Then once more, you wouldn’t be the primary thoughts: it’s additionally the placement for The Mummy, The Mummy Returns, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and the latest James Bond movie, Spectre (used because the lair of the evil villain Blofeld).