Our destination today is a place called Zmila, which is a mother dune, in the form of a camel hump, that holds it baby dunes under the shade of the huge rocky hills next to the mountains east of M’Hamid.
This place is magical when especially when you witness the desert from the top and you catch up the sunset from one of the surrounding hills.
You will depart around 8:00 from your camp together with the camels like one unified nomadic caravan crossing the hamada (the landscape of large, barren, rocky plateau.) Suddenly you will notice in the distance the illusion of a wall in the middle of a plateau of earth. The image of the wall in the middle of nowhere will raise hundreds of questions on your mind about what is going on there but by the time you reach it you will notice that it is a marabout, a holy shrine of an ancient desert tribal institution that is respected by nomads at large.
I am Nomad, your storyteller, and I will tell you the 3-part story about the man, starting as a small child lost in the Sahara Desert to becoming a great master who gave birth to eight children. Each child gets to institutionalise tribes on different lands in the Sahara including Mali, Algeria and Mauritania.
After visiting the shrine and enjoying the amazing stories of Sidi Naji, we will turn into the east toward Zmila, and now the hiking will take a strictly direct route with a break in the middle. The way to Zmila is full of tamarisk trees, dunes and nbak which are old tamarisk trees that wear a shoe of sand due to the tangle of their fallen twigs. While you are walking, you will have the chance to collect memories in fossils that are buried in the dunes all over the route to Zmila.
After hiking long distances on soft land, our Walking with Nomads camp will finally reach Zmila and your magical picnic lunch on a traditional carpet under the shade of a tamarisk tree next to the dune.
Once you have rested, your walk will continue, but this time on top of the hills to enjoy the Saharan landscapes from the top and also trace the lost artefacts of elder nomads who lived in this area hundreds of years ago. The graveyard made by rocks and the dilapidated Kasbah of Oulad Zbiir are your destination after trekking through the rocky blue hills.
The fallen kasbah represents a small castle on top of the hill built 300 years ago but has been neglected due to the disappearance of the tribe that once lived inside it. The tour to this kasbah will be combined with many lessons on the history of the tribe and its system of dominating the Draa Valley.
Later on, and after enjoying your trip from the top you will walk again down the hills to enjoy nomads’ stories and spiritual music.
Today, the trekking is for longer than the first day and we expect to catch the sunset on the top of the father dune, Erg Zahar. The local name for this dune is “The Screaming Dune.” It is located south of Zmila and southeast of M’hamid and it is totally remote place. Both the shape and the colour of the dune are reasonable reasons to have a night here.
It is the most admired dune by those who are looking for a sense of romanticism. The furthest dune of Zahar has a breath-taking view especially when you find yourself on top of its highest point.
On the way to reach Erg Zahar you will find yourself walking in the middle of a lush valley full of desert plants and trees whilst enjoying the view of the blue desert mountains to your east and a series of dunes to your west. While you are hiking inside this valley you will get the chance to see many desert birds in the valley fields and probably wild camels in their natural home.
After a long straight walk on desert scrub your eyes will be in searching for something new and here it comes – the Marabout of Sidi Omar and its ancient architecture is there for you. The shrine itself in buried inside the dunes which make it more special.
After having a peaceful break in the shade of the Sidi Omar shrine and enjoying some tea and snacks, we will be exposed to cross the undulating dunes of Zahar and to walk together with the camels up and down on the back of the teenager dunes from the middle to reach the highest point of Erg Zahar.
Unique dunes with dramatically different shapes will be in front of you to hike in order to reach the other side, but what is not expected is how you will feel after you see the surrounding dunes from the top of the furthest dune Zahar.
After enjoying a magnificent sunrise at Erg Zahar remote dunes, the camp will be in a state of load declaring the departure of our Walking with Nomads caravan.
Today will be a tour of different colours. More a tour that is full of discovery as we are going to walk for the whole day inside The Draa Valley which holds many secrets for its visitors. The charm of this place will absolutely inspire you.
Your way to Erg Smar will start by walking with a stream of beautiful red dunes to the east, then preparing yourself to cross Draa Valley. A journey of desert life, because for nomads, the Draa Valley has provided M’hamid desert with water, to keep the ecological balance of the area, for centuries. This is why, today, you are going to see the fallen farmers houses by the river’s western bank at Erg Smar region. While you are walking inside it and noticing its huge size, you will understand that the valley was a paradise on earth and probably still is one even if the sand dunes are eating its side.
We will arrive to Erg Smar and the setting is going to be one of the best you have ever be in because Erg Smar is located in the middle of M’hamid desert and it represents the heart of M’hamid dunes. When you climb one of the huge dunes there you will be exposed to a stream of dunes with different colours and shapes surrounding you for miles beside the Draa valley and all desert plants inside of it. Truly, sitting on top of a dune over there at Erg Smar is a fairy-tale destination.
After enjoying your lunch at the the two colour dunes and discovering the secret behind the two different colours, we will turn back our caravan to head north into the direction of M’hamid to get into another paradise known as the Camel Feet. Here we will set camp under the Tamarisk of Sidi Tayab translated as the Tamarisk of the Good Man. The area contains huge tamarisk tree buried by earth.
Today the walk is the longest among all the other days, but time will fly quickly as you will be hiking for the first half day inside the grazing land of Lbour. This place has been a burial land where every tribe has its own valley to farm in. However, times have changed, and nomads can no longer farm here due to the climate changing, apart from the rare occasion when there is a huge quantity of rain. In the past, the Draa Valley was the ideal provider of water, now it is dryer than ever in history.
Our lunch will take place under the shade of a tamarisk tree in the middle of this grazing region.
After lunch, when the camels are almost full from eating plenty of delicious plants at the grazing land, we will cross the sea of dunes that surround M’hamid Oasis. Reaching the oasis, we will set camp at the end of the palmerie that displays the look of desertification and shows the domination of the Sahara upon the oasis. The end of the palmerie is the connotation of the finality of the oasis and the starting point of the Sahara therefore this place is another desert paradise.
There is the option to cut today’s trek short and camp at Lbour tonight. Your collection will be by 4×4 on day 5. Lbour is 30mins drive from M’hamid town.
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