Before going I was apprehensive as to whether all that sand would make walking uncomfortable, and whether it being in everything you ate would spoil your experience. You did get an added grit to everything you ate or drank but you couldn't actually taste the sand. The bread made in the desert was gorgeous, I enjoyed the salads at lunch times and the soup and stews at dinner.Having come home to snow I can now say that walking in sand is far more preferable, and even the great banks of sand were easy to walk down, they acted like a lift and if you kick your feet up as you go you minimise the amount of sand that gets in your shoes. I also had longer trousers on which covered the tops of my shoes which helped keep the sand at bay.
- What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
Walking on the large sand dunes, the scenery was amazing there. Camping in a bedouin tent. Feeling at ease with the numerous dromedary's wandering about camp each night, even though they did like to graze on the one bush I seemed to set up my tent near! But they were amazing to carry all our baggage and other gear. Watching the sun setting as we were sat around the campfire. Enjoyed the last day heading back, visiting the troglodyte houses etc
The feeling at the end of it having walked 100km across a corner of the Sahara, not many other people I know have done that, so that was a great feeling of achievement.
- What did you think of your group leader?
He was very informative about local knowledge and history of the Sahara, he was very friendly and helpful. On occasions I did feel it would have been nicer to have had a guide/ member of the team at the back, and to have kept the group tighter together. But that is probably only my view as I was almost always at the back! As I have before tripped over on other walking holidays I did feel it could happen there and no one would have noticed for a good while, by which time they'd be far ahead. Sometimes if the camels had taken a different route to us, you had to make sure you kept people in view as you could lose your way even though the sand dunes/ bushes were quite small in places. When it all looks so similar to the untrained eye it was easy to lose your way.
The pace set did seem to be quite a route march at times, I know we had a certain distance to cover each day before it went dark, but we were always at the next camping area well before that.
- Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
As others have said the sand does get everywhere, but it is such clean and soft sand that you never feel dirty. Going armed with wet wipes and toilet roll was good advice, and if you're used to going to the toilet behind a bush when out walking at home, it's not all that different apart from the bushes often being a lot smaller! You just had to walk that bit further away from camp so you couldn't be seen! The basicness of 'toilet facilities' and the camping didn't bother me at all, it made the experience all the better than being in fixed camps.
Do remember (as I stupidly didn't!) to take blister plasters/ kit, probably my own fault in not wearing proper walking socks from the off and I got blisters, they did impeed on my experience, and it did make walking rather more uncomfortable. I was very grateful to fellow travellers who patched up my feet!
I thought I would be ok with the pace being able to walk at around 3 miles an hour, however I wasn't used to walking solidly for two hours constant without stopping, and keep up with the group, as I hadn't done trekking before despite many other walking holidays. So if you haven't either I'd recommend stepping up your stamina before going.
Having said that despite the varied terrain underfoot, the mileage each day didn't seem as far as the guide said it was, it was simply the pace I struggled with.
The scenery is a bit monotonous at times, and four days in the desert was more than enough. Obviously it wasn't practical to set up camp in the large dunes, but walking through those was by far more enjoyable than the other terrain.
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
The presence of a group of motorbikers who kept catching up with us/ overtaking us on the route, did spoil a little the feeling that we were miles from anywhere, even though whichever direction you looked most of the time you couldn't see anything but more sand.
I guess the route we took is a popular route for the more adventurous tourist.
Perhaps take some string or something to better tie the opening to the pop-up western tents with, as you end up with a different one each night usually and they have seen better days. They were weather proof around the dome and floor area but many had broken zips or fastenings, giving you in effect your own bedouin tent (open on one side)!
And finally, though there was some wind blowing the sand up it generally was to one side of us rather than in our faces, so don't go and buy snow goggles from new as you're unlikely to need them! Being a glasses wearer I bought new not having any or any sunglasses, and they are still unworn!
You might not think it to read my comments but I did enjoy it all overall.