The desert has engulfed us within fifteen minutes of our departure from Merzouga but we have a two hour camel ride in front of us. Our final destination will be a campsite set up by relatives of Hassan and Hamid, nomads who spend a large part of their life in the Sahara and occasionally come out to border towns such as Merzouga and Hassilabied.
Since we left at 5 p.m. the desert is much cooler than we anticipated. The camel ride is actually very enjoyable as we roll up and down sand dunes while enjoying the views at the peaks and admiring the sheer size of the dunes in the troughs.
Having seen Lawrence of Arabia a few weeks before our journey we thought this would be a real adventure that would seriously test our resilience, but this part of the Sahara is very mild at this time of year. A t-shirt and jeans are perfect for the daytime, and a simple sweater sufficient for nighttime.
It is hard to tame this part of the world with modern technology, since the continually shifting dunes make it hard to build roads and four-wheel drives tend to get stuck or turn over on the steep slopes. But our camels just stroll through the desert as easily as anyone would stroll along the historical ramparts of Marrakech.