We know Ali, through Samir, through Emily and Ryan. He’s the camel guide. He is very nice and friendly. He first came round to our camper van to ask how many camels we wanted to rent!! We rented 4 in total.
The next day we arrived at his house with 4 camels waiting there. He told us the camels names well a few at least. The last camel of the train was called Scooby-Doo, then another one, then Café Noir and the leader was called Café au Lait.
We also asked to buy head covers. We had one each apart from Dad who had bought one in Spain. It was pretty tough to get on and off the camel because they don’t lift all 4 legs up at the same time. To get up they put their back legs up first and to go down they put their front legs down first.
So we left into the desert, after 20 mins of riding you could only see sand around you. I was on one on my own, Adam and dad too, Mum and Katie were on together. Our bums were starting to get sore after and hour and a half, we could see a really big dune quite far away. It is the biggest one in the area!!
We saw a lot of tents on the way to our ones, we didn’t know which ones were ours. So we asked Ali and he said that they were the other side of the big dune. So after 3 hours of trekking in the desert it was starting to get dark. We could see the oasis that we were staying at from far away, we arrived there when it was almost black.
We unloaded the first camel, that had all our supplies, our food and water, blankets and 2 sleeping bags that we took. So Ali took us in to the oasis and showed us our tent; there were 5 beds in our tent. There were already a few people at the oasis. It was like a wee village.
We first had mint tea with Ali, then he went to the kitchen to prepare a tagine.
He told us to go into the restaurant tent, it was warm and pretty inside, our tagine arrived about 8:30, so we had a late tea. It was delicious!! There were caramelised onions on the bottom so the sauce was lovely. For pudding we had mandarins and apples. Mum and Dad stayed up a bit later around the fire outside, people were playing music. Adam, Katie and I went to bed earlier, Adam and I watched the last episode of Breaking Bad at night, it was excellent.
In the morning, we woke up about 6:30 to see the sunrise. Nobody was awake yet. The sand was really really cold. I decided to climb up the big dune behind the oasis. But the sand was really cold, I still went up though. I must have taken about 45 mins to get up, it was really tiring!!
At the top I took loads of pictures and was playing in the sand, there was a flat area at the top. I had a really good view of the sunrise and all the dunes. After about half an hour at the top I saw dad waving at me to come down so I started to slowly walk down sideways. I was emptying my Crocs every 2 or 3 footsteps so I decided to take them off and walk bare foot it was much easier. Near the end I was running pretty fast down the dune it was so much easier going down than up.
When I got down we all had our breakfast, we had bread with butter and jam, cheese and yoghurt. We left about 9 I think. I was on the leader, then Adam, then Katie, then mum. Dad decided to walk for the first part. Ali asked us if we wanted to go the 3 hour or the 2 hour way we chose the 2 hour way because we had a bit of sore bums!!
We stopped in the middle of the desert to play and take some pictures. Ali, his friend and Adam were playing music. I was doing handstands on the dunes and jumping.
We stayed there for about an hour or so, then we continued on back to Merzouga. Once we arrived Ali’s brother was waiting on us to take us back to their house where we left our camper van. So all 8 of us went back to their house in a small van!!
[ Ali and his family have a little restaurant and auberge called Auberge Afrakalie in Khamlia, which is about 7km south of Merzouga. He also plays Gnaoua, traditional African slave music. See http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=J8kvIR8MSjk Khamlia is a little bit away from the hustle of Merzouga]