Walking With A Nomad On A Beach In North Africa
Manifesting in Morocco
I believe ideas are driven by the impulse to manifest and it was when I was walking with a nomad on a beach in North Africa that I decided to collaborate with this idea.
Authenticity energises me and because I strive to live a life driven more by curiosity than fear, I found myself chit-chatting with Mohamed with our toes in the sand, as he looked sadly at the tourist camels sick from the humidity, far from their dry, desert home.
Mohamed loves camels you see, and Mohamed loves story-telling and this is why he wrote a series of blogs called “How to Train Your Camel” for my Moroccan blog. And this is why I met him on this windswept Atlantic beach and this is why I committed to a 4-day trek in the Sahara Desert despite having feet that don’t much like walking!
The idea whooshed in with an energy and determination that ensured it would successfully manifest before the day was over.
Neither Mohamed nor I remember who voiced the idea first, but out of the blue, and with neither of us sure where it was leading us, we started discussing our new business which could only be called “Walking with Nomads.”
Sahara Desert Trekking
It might have been done before but it hadn’t been done by us and we instantly knew, with huge smiles on our faces, that was about to change. This was going to be so much more than a desert trekking business. Inspired by Mohamed’s Grandfather, who I first saw on a BBC documentary, this was about protecting and sharing cultural traditions, saving an ancient heritage.
We all need more wonder in our lives and so, 5 months later, I was there – stumbling blindly through the dunes with visibility down to 10% and sand in my mouth as I followed my camels through a sandstorm and thanked God that I was now part of a nomad family who understand the desert better than I understand myself.
What type of person suits desert trekking?
If you have a preconceived idea of what a desert trekker looks like, it wouldn’t look like me. I am not young. I am not fit. I have no physical endurance. I don’t like discomfort. I hate sand. I need to feel clean and I’m not even that outdoorsy!
But I was here to create our business, to beta test our treks, to trial everything before the clients, to understand the small details, to be trained in the ways of the nomads, to write procedures and to learn exactly how this experience would feel to my future customers.
I was not here on an indulgent journey of self-discovery and I did not expect to particularly enjoy the wild camping experience. I’m much more Egyptian cotton than sleeping bag – but this was business and I was working.
4 Day Sahara Desert Trek
I walked, I slept, I listened, I learned, I watched the sunrise and the sunset, I fell in love with 4 nomads, 4 camels and a donkey. I heard fables and legends. I tracked gazelle and foxes. I sang songs in the midday sun as I started to lose my grip on reality and I cried a few secret tears after I fell off a donkey.
Throughout my pilgrimage, I was cared for by my nomad family with love and tenderness. Even when I lost my temper because my feet fell off, Mohamed still patiently wrapped me up in my indigo shroud which kept the sun and sand off my English skin and turned me an interesting shade of purple for days.
By day 3, Mohamed was chasing our runaway donkey in bare feet because his shoes were now on my feet and those shoes were a turning point for me. Those shoes understood the desert and those shoes belonged only to people with strength of character and love of a simple life and they infused me with energy.
So I strode off ahead with a feeling of happiness swelling in my heart. This experience was, without doubt, one of the best in my lifetime. I haven’t felt so content since I was a child and lucky – so damn damn lucky to be walking with nomads in the Moroccan Sahara on a beautiful November day.
M’hamid Desert Exploration
Just as I got used to going to toilet behind a tree and washing in a bucket, the trekking drew to a close. I felt a strange sense of loss and triumph as the adorably laconic nomad, Hamadi, took the camels and donkey and set off on the long walk home. Then Daddy Nomad arrived in a pick-up to collect all the camping gear and cook the best meal of my life on a little fire under a tamarisk tree in the mystical place where the yellow dunes meet the red ones and I handed Mohamed back his shoes.
But the desert hadn’t finished with me and I was excited to discover that the adventure was to continue for another 3 days only this time by vehicle in order to reach every single place for me to see, understand and experience in my limited time schedule.
The Nomad Family
Having Big Daddy with us brought a whole new perspective. This was a man who had lived in the desert for so long and although he now has a home in the village and drives an ambulance for a living, he has his camels in the desert and was clearly still living there, with them, in his heart.
He showed me how to milk a camel and I drank the milk from his hands. He showed me how the male camel keeps his harem together and he showed me the cutest and fluffiest baby camel you can imagine.
Then, the kindest father of the kindest son, drove us, 5 in a pick-up, around the Sahara for days.
On my last night I trialled a luxury desert camp with a hot shower I stood under in ecstasy, a huge bed with crisp white linen and a glass of chilled white wine – but I’d have swapped it all in a heartbeat for one more night with my nomad family.
We drove to the desert exit point at Foum Zguid, across the Lake Iriqi dried salt flats and the dramatic shapes of the Jbel Bani mountain range. We stopped to greet a husband and wife nomad team who Mohamed had herded with during the summer months and Mohamad presented me with a bag of gifts from the desert. Then, as we emotionally parted, Brahim told me that I have a family in the desert who will welcome and support me in anyway I need and that this offer is non-negotiable and valid into the afterlife!!!
Walking with Nomads
So, as we launch this Walking with Nomads desert trekking experience, it is with the caveat that it is only suitable for people who want to experience the very, very best of nature and humanity and with the conviction that this will be the best desert trekking company on the planet.