Sahara Desert caravan -photo: Robbie Hamper
Sahara Desert caravan -photo: Robbie Hamper

 

Just the words: Sahara Desert conjure up images of a sweeping silky landscape of sand dunes across an endless wilderness.

As my parents, Don and Robbie Hamper continue their way through Morocco, their words and photographs in this guest blog post confirm that the exotic and mysterious Sahara Desert is just as stunning as it appears in movies — and just as desolate as you fear in your dreams.

 

 

 

Nomadic family - photo: Robbie Hamper
Nomadic family – photo: Robbie Hamper

Guest Blog post – words and photos – by Don and Robbie Hamper:
Just as interesting as the Sahara Desert itself are the people who live in it. We are entering the part of Morocco where nomads call home.

The term home is used loosely as nomadic families are transient throughout the desert. Their simple existence makes it possible. We spent time with a nomadic family living in a tent. They were lovely people who invited us into their living quarters which were literally the size of a camping tent.

This area of Morocco, called Erfoud, on the edge of the Sahara Desert, is an oasis. We stopped at a place called “A Thousand Wells” where a nomadic man showed us an ancient underground water-well.

Nomad Berber man at an ancient water well - photo: Robbie Hamper
Nomad Berber man at an ancient water well – photo: Robbie Hamper

 

This was a stopping point for caravans passing through hundreds of years ago and a place where they could stock-up on water.

The desert itself is incredible. As we got on our camels, we realized what novices we were. There’s an art to getting on a camel and getting comfortable quickly before the guides take-off.

 

Robbie wearing the cheche on a camel - photo: Don Hamper
Robbie wearing the cheche on a camel – photo: Don Hamper

 

 

When riding through the desert, it is customary to wear a cheche on your head to protect your nose and mouth from blowing sand.

They are worn mostly by men as men are the ones who typically ride the camels. The long cloth is often colored with raw indigo dye that is pounded into the material. Over time, the dye permeates the skin resulting in the skin turning blue. In fact, men in certain areas of the Sahara are called “blue men of the desert” for this reason.

Don on the camel - photo: Robbie Hamper
Don on the camel – photo: Robbie Hamper

 

 

 

 

Riding a camel through the Sahara provides a unique perspective. The sand dunes never seem to end and they are always changing. We climb higher and higher into a silent oasis of swirling sand.

 

 

Dung beetle - photo: Robbie Hamper
Dung beetle – photo: Robbie Hamper

We notice the Dung Beetles busy scurrying around on the ground. We wondered, “where did they come from and where are they going in the middle of a desolate sand dune?”

The Sahara desert certainly earns it reputation. It is truly as empty and as lonely as you might imagine in your mind. We keep wondering how anyone could survive out here with dry, blowing sand, sweltering heat, virtually no water sources and no food sources.

Robbie distant in dunes - photo:Don Hamper
Robbie distant in dunes – photo:Don Hamper

 

 

 

The nomads seem to survive, but they come from generations of people who have learned to adapt to and live in the elements. For those unprepared, survival in this wilderness would be nearly impossible.

 

The Sahara Desert represents an infinity of nature that is truly spectacular. Getting the opportunity to engage in this picturesque scene for this moment is something we will never forget.