Once again after a discussion with Paul and Melissa we decided to continue South East towards Merzouga.
We had a route that would initially start us off on the N10 towards Tinejdad but then cutt through on the smaller roads to Erfoud and then onto a piste towards Merzouga and the dunes. The dunes – the famous Erg Chebbi – are about 50 km south of Erfoud and it is Morocco’s only genuine Saharan dune!
Once off the large (and a bit dull) N10 we took the R702. This road took us was well away from the busier more tourisy sections that we had recently been travelling in the Gorge and, apart from the odd section completely covered with sand, was filled with lush green oasis and sections of massive palmeries. On our way to Erfoud we found the landscape to be quite surreal – almost like that of another planet – with its strange lines of small volcanic mounds. (We later found out that these were the man-made entries into the old underground irrigation channels). Leaving Erfoud we found that the road was no longer but the landscape was just unbelievable …the Lonely Planet book says its magical, it really is. The dunes don’t look real – rather like someone has painted them!
With the piste horribly corrugated we began to realise just what Chris Scott was going on about in his books! http://saharaoverland.wordpress.com/the-book/ Our teeth were practically rattled out of our heads and seated riding was definitely out of the question. Lisa had one gradual slide off in one of the sections of soft sand and wasn’t impressed with herself.
This route had taken longer that we had hoped and now it was starting to get dark and we still had about 12 km to go before we arrived at the place that we had chosen to camp( a French run auberge). But darkness comes quickly out here and so we decided to stop and camp 12 k short of our destination. Although we were so very close and a decision to continue was persuasive it was, in the end very wise to not carry on out into the desert in the pitch black! It was also fun to just stop and set up camp in the middle of ,what appared to be, nowhere. Now we felt like real adventurers!