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Nick and Bec's Big Trip Starting on the 29th of June 2008 Bec and I will be starting a year long adventure, spending 6 months in Africa and another 6 months in South America. It should be lots of fun.

Camel plus desert equals a sore bum

TUNISIA | Monday, 1 December 2008 | Views [954] | Comments [2]

At the moment we are in Houmt Souq, Jerba, Tunisia.  It is colder than I expected, but the sky is blue and we are smiling.  Here is our latest adventure, a brief camel trip to the Sahara.

26th November - Back from the Sahara, Douz

We are back from the Sahara after a great overnight trip into the desert by camel.  We set out or were picked up from the hotel by taxi at about 3.30 in the afternoon and were dropped off at the edge of town and hence the edge of the Sahara.  Our guide and three camels were waiting for us.  After a few minutes of loading up the camels with gear, food and us, we set off.

Camel riding is not comfortable and sitting on the edge of the bed in the hotel room writing this journal entry is not comfortable either.  Not because of the bed, because the sit bones in my pelvis are bruised!  I am sure I will recover, but ouch it hurts.

Our plan was to head 15km into the desert, camp the night and return the following day.

Before I write more I have to say the trip was excellent.  We really enjoyed ourselves being in it so to speak, camping under the stars and cooking in the fire, literally.

So we set off with Nasser, the guide, in the lead, Bec second and me third and last with the camels are tied together to stop break aways and splinter groups.  The town almost immediately disappears, with just camel footprints and the odd four wheel drive track denoting human habitation, plus the usual plastic bottle or broken brick.  Soon the town and rubbish has gone and a glance over my shoulder just reveals sand dunes and gnarly bushes.  We are in the Sahara good and proper.  The sand is fairly pale, not the bright orange stuff of Namibia, which feels like a long time ago.  The landscape is just a great dune sea with very few features, no real valleys or hills, just those created by the dunes themselves.  Not a place to get lost in.  If we keep going where would we end up?  Eventually we would hit the Grand Erg Oriental where the massive sand dunes are and the next town?  It sems Lonely Planet would suggest Agadez, an anicent trading town in Niger; a ver long war away, with nothing in between, but desert.  The Sahara desert.

Back to the trip.  After a couple of hours of bouncing, lurching and bobbing along we reach our campsite.  A sheltered spot next to a slightly larger sand dune acting as a 2 metre high wind break.

We gather wood, many of the scrappy bushes are dead and hence available to burn.  the camels are unloaded and with front legs tied loosely together are free to roam albeit a short distance.  Camels are grumpy, their reputation is correct.  There is a lot of whining, snorting and being stubborn.  Plus Bec's camel kept trying to brush her off by going through the bigger bushes rather than around them.

So with wood collected we set about chopping vegetables for dinner, a one pot dinner cooked over the fire with vegies and sheep or goat (not sure which) stewing away with a pan of couscous heating through on top.

With the fire burning bright the sun set we tucked into dinner sitting around the bowl armed with spoon each.  The vegie, unkown meat mix with couscouswas was tasty and after we had had our fill the lead camel got to polish off the rest.  We sat around the small fire for the rest of the evening listening to Nasser play the tomtom and sing.  We had a go and confirmed we have little or no rythum.  I think I have anit-rythum, the complete inability to string two beats together.  The singing and drumming was infectious though and thoroughly enjoyable.  Whilst all the hoo har was going on a desert mouse came from who nows where and took a peak at the fire not more than six inches from Bec.

So with the fire down low we set up our bedding under the stars.  A couple of mats, our thermarests, two blankets each and our sleeping bags.  We both decided not to bother changing into our pjs, so we removed our shoes and jumpers, constructed our pillows (puffa stuffed inside our jumpers).  Once in and zipped up with beanies on we could relax and admire the stars.  With a clear sky and not too much sand in the air we could see a phenomenal amount of stars. Over the period of the night as the earth revolved I spotted cassiopea, the north star and ursa minor, the plough and orion.  Plus you could clearly see the planets, venus for sure, the milky way and a satellite tracking across the sky.

Roughly at 5am a smiling face, Bec, woke me up to see the sun creep above the horizon and we both spotted a shotting star in the pre-dawn light.

At 7.30am we unzipped and laced up our boots, pulled on our jumpers, adjusted our beanies, zipped up our jackets and went to do our ablutions.  The desert and Tunisia has been very cold, much more so than expected.  We have been rugged up most of the time.

Nasser started on breakfast as we kept the morning fire going.  Breakfast was damper, a flat bread cooked in the embers of the fire.  Plus tea.  The bread was needed on a man-made bump in the sand covered by a hessian sack, a sort of natural rolling pin.  It was flattened out to a big round centimetre thick piece of dough.  Then the fire was cleared to expose the coals and the damper placed into the heart of the fire and covered back over.  After about ten minutes it was turned and after another ten it was ready.  The damper was dug out of the fire and whipped clean with the corner of a blanket.  Breakfast was ready.  The damper was excellent and even better with soft cheese.

So post breakfast we saddled up the camels and rolled up our bedding, packed it, and made the trip back to Douz.  Wow what a great trip, just our sort of thing.

Comments

1

Pity you did not have my star book with you. I love looking at the stars here as well because we do not have much light pollution. Think I'd better start planning my world trip before I get too ancient

  pat Dec 2, 2008 10:23 PM

2

Is one allowed to say "bum" on the internet?

  dlk Dec 4, 2008 9:37 PM

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