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  • Day5

    Choose Your Camel

    May 5, 2019 in Morocco ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

    Finally at around 6pm we arrived at our destination having seen the sand dunes increase their dominance within the landscape for maybe three quarters of an hour beforehand, maybe longer. None of us really knew quite what to expect - we knew we’d be sleeping in tents tonight, we knew camels were involved at some point, but how it all linked together was still a mystery.

    We arrived at a hotel somewhat travel weary, some gasping for a drink and others for a loo though thankfully both these needs were easily serviced! Then we waited for what would happen next, with some donning their tagelmust (traditional headdress, for Berbers often indigo in colour, which protects from the sun and inhalation of air-based sand) and others chatting or sorting out luggage. Then a pickup truck arrived and our bags were loaded onto that and finally we were ready. We were led a few hundred yards away from the hotel and to our awaiting transport - our camels sitting patiently in the desert sand. This is it, I thought, this is the beginning of the best part of the trip - right here, right now. I couldn’t wait to find my camel and get going.

    At this point I feel I have to make it very clear that these here camels were mighty fine specimens. Not only were they clean, as far as an average camel goes, but they were very mild natured, did exactly as they were told and simply got on with their task of carrying their extremely inexperienced cargo (us) across the dunes. At no point did I even see the merest hint nor thought that at any time a camel was thinking of taking a deep breath preceding some sort of gigantic spit, for spitting is something camels are known for and they don’t call them ‘Spit the Camel’ for nothing. Or was that a dog, I forget. No, these camels did not spit though I draw the line at calling them cuddly or even pretty, even though one camel had really pretty eyes. Pretty if you fancy a camel, that is.

    Our camel experience lasted for about an hour I think. I lost track of time to be honest because about half way we stopped to take photos of the camels being led around by our camel drivers. Okay it was staged for us, but we all managed to get some great photos before we climbed back onto our camels to continue to the camp. The light was fading now and the colours of the desert seemed to come alive as the golden light faded towards blue. What we saw as we moved through the dunes was stunning and I so much wanted to stop again to capture images of the dunes in this fantastic light. I would have needed my tripod though and that was probably already at the camp site now, but just being there was enough however. Just being there.

    When we arrived we realised this wasn’t the sort of camp site you get in Bognor Regis on a wet day in summer, oh no! This was camping on a grand scale - rigid tents with electric lighting and carpeted floors, separate washrooms for each tent and a tent dining room, with table service, electric lighting and an area for charging phones and camera batteries. Luxury! Even the sand was carpeted outside the tents.

    There was just enough time for sorting ourselves out before dinner and afterwards the Berber staff provided entertainment around a log fire until late into the evening, Brilliant. What an end to the day.

    Except this wasn’t the end but the beginning, for now it was time to get the tripods and cameras for our astrophotography workshop ... and the sky was simply stunning.
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