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.
According to nomads, Zmila is a name given to the long lonely dune that takes its place in the middle of small dunes. The big dune is the mother that holds all the dunes next to it.
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 and each story will describe a stage of his life.
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.
You will stop for a magical picnic lunch on a traditional carpet under the shade of a tamarisk tree next to the Zmila dune and after you have rested your walk will continue, but this time on top of the hills to trace both the graveyard and the dilapidated kasbah of Oulad Zbiir. This is 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 there. The tour to this kasbah will be combined with many lessons on the history of this tribe and its system of dominating the Draa Valley.
The evening camp will be made on the tips of small golden dunes that are connected to a series of inspiring black rocky hills by a big blue mountain. The Walking with Nomads team will set your tent in a private space next to a small dune provided with colourful Berber carpets and a small fireplace for the evening cold.
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 north of Zmila and northeast of M’hamid and it is totally remote place. Both its shape and colour are excellent 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. The shrine itself in buried inside the dunes.
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.
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.
Here we will set camp cocooned by the dunes all around us and after some time to relax and soak up the sunset, dinner will be served around the coy camp-fire.
No feeling on God’s earth can equal burying yourself on top of the Zahar Dune waiting for the tiny sun to shine and to give birth again to life by lighting the planet of the little prince from the top of Erg Zahar dune.
Departing in the early morning from the remote mysterious dune of Zahar toward Draa valley looking for an epic desert safari, today the desert scrub is open and Draa Valley is near but for sure it is not our final destination.
Today’s tour is mostly divided into two parts. Lunch next to Draa Valley seasonal tamarisk forest under the shade of a tree at the Berber dune of Ait Ounir, then after lunch, finalizing the evening trip by discovering the region of Camel Feet and Lbour that has been an open grazing land for nomads and used to be a nomadic farming land in the past, but now nomads and their backs grass at the green seasons.
Today we are going to hike inside the living part of the desert and if lucky will get close enough to meet some other nomads and their camels and get to see their special nomadic life in action.
We start our hiking by crossing a salty scrub from Erg Zahar to reach the tail of the Berber dune of Ait Ounir which connected the Draa’s western bank. Throughout walking by the Draa River you will enjoy the view of tamarisk forests and discover the traces of animals living inside it.
After lunch we will cross the Draa River and walk all over a variety of sand dunes and pass by a blue small hill of fossils up the elegant dunes and our Sahara hiking will start to be strict as we need to cross some dunes to reach the Feet of Camel.
Here we will set our last overnight camp inside the salad rocket fields where nomads are sometimes still seen herding their animals. The setting is optional as the terrain is open and the camel feet region represents a large grazing place with different beautiful locations under the golden wing of the lonely dunes that surrounded by lush desert plants and tamarisk trees.
Sit up on the dunes by the side of a small fire to enjoy the view of camels grazing all around. Then you tent will be ready for you for the rest of the night to enjoy the stars and stories.
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