From Fes, we headed straight out to the Saharan dunes of Merzouga. It was a sucky 9hr hour overnight bus ride constantly interrupted with stops so you couldn’t really get any sleep. We arrived grumpy in the village early in the morning. This is more of what I expected Morocco to be like. Little villages made of straw and mud being beaten down by the wind and sand. This town is on the map because it is a camel trek away from a 600m high dune. We found that summer isn’t the optimal time to be here. Not so much because of the surprisingly bearable 115 degree sun, but because the winds whip up somewhat unpleasant afternoon sandstorms. Riding the camels also isn’t so comfortable. A donut shaped saddle mostly covers up the hump, but when Joe Camel hits the brakes you hit the bump of a hump that remains.Our camel journey out to the dune took us through 3hrs of sandstorm and dropped us at an oasis with a small tent village of nomads parked at the base of this gigantic pile o’ sand. We spent a great night under the stars and woke up around 4:30am to hike / crawl / stumble up the 600m dune which is much tougher than it sounds. This sand is so fine that it gives way and draws your every step ankle deep if you’re not careful. Mary had a head start and did her best to run up and catch sunrise. When I finally met her up top, she mumbled something about the taste of blood. The color of the dunes in the morning sun is incredible. The sky is bright blue and the dunes take on a deep orange cast. There’s only one way down a dune this big – DOWN. You can run, fall, roll, slide or some combination thereof. Mary tried to yoga her way down. That didn’t work so well. Actually, sliding really didn’t work too well either. Running down feels like walking on the moon. The jumps are long and easy with the sand absorbing each lumbering drop of 3-5 feet. Too cool.
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