Meningitis Now Young Ambassador Sophie Coghlan

A trek in the desert (Part 2)

Sophie C 15th March 2016

Concluding part recounting my desert trek

Trek in the desert

Day 4

The horrendous sound of someone’s alarm from one of the far off tents pierced through everyone’s sleep. There was a number of loud sighs and yawns across the camp as people knew they had to get up but everyone knew it would be worth it. It was freezing cold and pitch black so wrapping up warm and armed with head torches we were ready for the climb. We began following each other in single file across the Chigaga Dunes god only knows how Aziz knew his way through in daylight, let alone in the middle of the night. After about 15 mins climbing we perched at the top of a dune looking out across the desert, waiting for the famous sunrise. Much to our dismay it was cloudy that morning and after about an hour of sitting and waiting (with the odd selfie being taken) we decided to make our way back to camp. Almost immediately after we had begun the walk back we were stopped in our tracks as the sun broke through the clouds and beams of golden sunlight drowned the dunes in every beautiful shade of orange. We stood and watched as all the different colours in the sand come to life, glistening like water around us. 

We arrived back to camp excitable after the amazing sunrise and all ready to crack on with the rest of the day. We shoved down breakfast which included pink pancakes!! (made using beetroot). We began the day walking up, down and over the stunning dunes that were as tall and wide as 4 or 5 story buildings. By lunch time we were well ready for a break. We stopped in a lovely shady spot under a group of trees where we were treated to yet another of Omar’s amazing Moroccan specialities. We were allowed a longer break for people to wrap up their now blistering feet and rest their legs that were beginning to ache somewhat. We had made good head way that morning and so after lunch there was only a short 2 hour walk to the evening camp which was hidden in amongst a circle of low dunes. We lay out on the side of a dune relishing in the last of the day’s sun and realising a sense of achievement as we had just conquered our last full day of trekking.

Whilst waiting for tea the guides allowed us to have a go at riding some of the camels which had carried our provisions throughout. It seemed like a great idea whilst they were kneeling down but not such a good plan when perched on top of one as it stood up, demonstrating just how tall they are! We settled down to yet another great meal. It was an early night as everyone was shattered after the long day. We made our way back to the tents not long after food whilst the tour guides stayed up playing a heated game of cards in their tent.

Day 5

This was it! The final day of trekking which was started in our usual routine of a big (chocolatey) breakfast and, seeing as it was our last day, many a picture taken with the camels. Before we left camp for the last time we had a special little ceremony just to say a massive thank you to the local guides and the amazing chef, Omar! We said our goodbyes and began the last leg of our journey. 

A short distance away we stopped at a Nomad school, where we watched the class learning French and all sang a round of “if you’re happy and you know it”. As we left the class the 4 by 4’s had arrived outside to take us out of the desert and start our journey home. It was sad to think that this was it, we had completed our challenge and there was no more walking to do. Then followed a hair-raising ride back to the minibus as the drivers embarked on a race over the rocks and dunes to be first back. As the victorious winners, we treated ourselves to an ice cold coke, the taste was absolutely heavenly!  We pulled up chairs and chilled in the sun until getting back onto the minibus for the journey back to Ouarzazate.

Once back in Ouarzazate we all craved our first shower for days, but there was an opportunity to go to visit some desert movie sets that were near to the hotel. It was amazing to see how big and realistic all the different sets were (The Mummy and Gladiator).  Once we had all showered and had time for a bit of a wind down in our rooms, we met up at the bar for a celebratory meal together. It was strange to see everyone back to how they normally looked. We had got quite used to seeing each other looking grubby, with hair scraped back and covered in sand. We were all awarded a medal for conquering the desert before heading over to have dinner and with what ended up being a surprisingly large amount of wine.

Day 6

I woke feeling remarkably well rested, anything now seemed better than the desert floor to sleep on. It had only been three days in tents but it made me appreciate my home comforts so much more! After breakfast the mini bus took us for our return journey through the Atlas Mountains and this time we were allowed to play our own music. This consisted of everything from Britney Spears to the Eagles along with a full rendition of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ where no one could avoid joining in  the entire bus chorused “Galileo” at the top of their voices. We stopped again in the mountains and saw some of the local women making Argon oil and how they made it into the various products.

Once back in Marrakesh we were taken to an amazing roof top restaurant that looked out over the famous medina for our last Moroccan meal together, which was delicious!  We were given a tour of the markets and incredible souks where we watched people making traditional goods. Before we knew it, we were back on the minibus for the last time heading to the airport. As we said goodbye to Aziz everyone was suddenly hit with the overwhelming feeling of both achievement and sadness that it was over which of course led to one last group selfie! No-one slept on the flight back as everyone repeated the stories from the trip and spent the entire journey laughing and joking. With bags collected we said our final emotional goodbyes and went our separate ways.   

On reflection 

I had an absolutely amazing trip that was made even more special by the 11 crazy strangers that trekked beside me and have become my friends. On the last check of my Justgiving page, I had managed to raise £1,355 with every penny going straight to Meningitis Now. I am so pleased that this will all go towards helping in the battle against such a life destroying disease and support all those that are so affected by it. Thank you to everyone who donated and if you are considering doing the trek, it truly is a once in a life time experience.

Find our more about treks and adventures here