The Erg Chebbi dunes at Merzouga were hills of smooth sand up to 150m high. The dunes were 27k long and 7k wide lying along the Algerian border. Our first day driving off road proved to be more eventful than we had planned. Things had been going reasonably well until we got the truck stuck in the sand. Minutes later folk appeared from a nearby village and within half an hour or so they had dug us out, using branches the local children had gathered. Finally they brought two planks of wood which were expertly placed behind the rear wheels and with one final shove we were out. Apparently the village made a good living from freeing stuck vehicles – rather like the Cornish wreckers rushing to the beach if they spied a ship floundering on the rocks.
We stayed two nights in the desert. We found the driving very tiring, the terrain seemed to change at every turn. Hassan told us that 400 million years ago the area was volcanic sea bed which is why the landscape was peppered with black rocks. Just a small proportion of the desert was sand dunes.
By the time we had eaten we were more than ready for bed and were grateful for the warmth of our comfortable truck. Hamid and Hassan stayed round the camp fire and chatted. They slept in their little tents wrapped up against the cold. We loved camping under the stars and having our meal cooked on a wood fire. The ever changing scenery was dramatic and at night everywhere was beautifully quiet. One evening we sat and watched an almost full moon rise. The photographs did not to justice to the scenery.