Nomads of the Sahara – Part 1

By Mohamed El-Gasmi | January 16th, 2019   2 Comments
Desert Migration - Nomad Stories

The Great Migration

My name is Laaribi and I am a nomad descended from one of M’hamid Draa Valley ancient tribes and am almost 80yrs old.
A few years ago, because of lack of rain and my camels and goats herds needing grass, I was forced to move with my nomadic family to settle in the middle of the south of Morocco’s Sahara. But every year, me and two of my sons migrate long distances on foot to the upper part of Morocco’s desert, carrying all our belongings on donkeys. Many of you are wondering why donkeys and not camels? Donkeys are very practical especially at mountain passes and rocky surfaces. Whereas camels are perfect in the sand dunes.
Nomads of the Sahara Part 1 - Migration
at Erg Chegaga during my way back home

The Harsh Reality

Back to our migration story. Our destination is Oued Ghris in the Errachidia Desert which is 660 kilometres away from our departing point. We crossed hundreds of kilometres through harsh and endless landscape and this picture was taken when I was on a break at Erg Chegaga during my way back home. A break at the Draa Valley is essential to allow the camels to rest and gain more energy, because we lose a few camels every migration especially the weak, sick,and small ones.
Sometimes we spend a few days walking in places where there is no grass. Some other times female camels give birth to their babies on the way which makes it more difficult and also because they might give birth in places where our big camel packs cannot stay due to the lack of food at that specific place. Therefore, we carry the camel babies on the donkeys back so that the mom keeps an eye on her baby and follows the rest of the pack.
Nomad Camel during Migration
Sometimes, the migration can be very tragic. In dry years we may have no choice other than slaughtering the small babies or the old ones who can’t make the journey. We don’t do this because we are without emotion, but because but we have no choice and ethically we don’t want to let them suffer till they die. If we stop to take care of them the rest of the pack will be weak and we will lose even more.
To meet some of these amazing nomadic people and hear their stories for yourself, you’ll have to come on one of our special desert treks.

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