Arrived in Risanni at 7am and immediately left with 2 Brits (another Emma and a James) and a yank (Kristen) for the massive deep orange dunes at the edge of the Sahara. An hour later the four of us are sipping Moroccan whiskey (very sweet tea crammed with mint) negotiating a camel trek into the dunes for an overnight excursion. The new Brits have a host of language skills under their belts that are coming in mighty handy. Emma studies at Oxford and speaks fluent French and Spanish and is dabbling with Portuguese. James studies at St Andrews also speaks fluent French and Spanish and a smattering of Japanese. Another hour later despite some impressive literary credentials and a dogged determination to get a good deal we find ourselves out negotiated by the locals yet again.
Our trek leaves at 5pm so we have the day to waste. The heat here is something that has to be experienced to understand. The prevailing wind is blowing off the stony dark grey plains at the beginning of the Sahara and into the giant dunes. I decided to do some hand washing and have a shower. As an indication of how hot and dry it is my clothes have transformed from dripping wet to bone dry the time it takes me to have a shower and a shave.
The four of us set off for the dunes at 5 and spend about 2 hours riding to our overnight camp. My camel, Bob Marley, is a pretty good-natured beast and the journey is over in no time. On arrival we spend another hour climbing the dunes, which proves tiring and frustrating. Every time we think we are close to the top there is yet another little bit to climb. In the end we give up and head back to camp for an authentic Berber tachine (meat and veggie stew) and a sleep under the bright Sahara stars.