19 April 2024 – Douz Desert Trip

In late October 2023, we had intended to make a trip to the Sahara Desert with Kevin, but then war broke out in the Middle East again, and we felt that it was best (as tourists) to keep a low profile here in Tunisia. Whether that decision was required or not is one question that we will never know the answer to. However, we just finished the trip and were quite pleased with the result. Our friends Kevin and Sandy (SV NOCONA MOON) organized the rental car, hotel and Sahara trip.

We first drove about 4.5 hours South of Monastir in a rental car, staying at the Sahara Douz Hotel (4 star). This was our hotel view from the window, late on the first afternoon.

It rained heavily on the way there. There were warning signs of camels grazing in the desert, and yes indeed, we did see small herds of camels freely grazing on what limited shrubs were available. If you look closely, you will see that their front legs are tied close together, and they are branded, indicating ownership.

With a bit of wind, the sand blows across the highway – much the same way that in Canada we see snow blowing across the road in the winter.

That would explain why they have constructed “sand fences” to try and limit the amount of drifting sand on the highways.

In the morning, we were met by Afeef (rhymes with “A Thief” – but that was not his character at all) our camel jockey.

We took a short walk with him from the hotel, to meet his camels (yes, they were his camels) and we had ourselves a little caravan of 5 camels. He lowered each one of them to the ground, and we climbed aboard.

All four of us mounted our respective camels and followed Afeef as he led us deeper and deeper into the desert. Along the way, he showed us various samples of desert rose, a geological formation of crystal clusters of gypsum or baryte which include abundant sand grains.

After about a two hour camel ride, we arrived at our destination, Desert Camp Abdelati. This was about 6km from our Hotel (in a straight line) but our trek was not straight at all as we meandered between the dunes and over the small ones. As we moved deeper into the desert, the signs of civilization gradually diminished, and when we got to the camp, we had the “full effect”.

Our camels were well behaved and sometimes paused during the trek to munch on some small bush sprouts. I spotted one small desert lizard (gecko?) (sand in colour) and we saw fox tracks as well. Here, Kevin demonstrates how he (and I) frequently shifted his legs to the front for rest. Those camels are very wide! Note to file: next time, do some extensive groin stretching exercises in the days leading up to two, two hour camel rides (there and back).

At the desert camp, we had an excellent hot lunch and watched the locals make fresh flat bread buried in the hot coals of a fire.

It was an excellent, and interesting trip. One more adventure done.

Back at the marina, a few weeks ago our 220V air fryer broke. It just wouldn’t heat anymore. In “this world”, when something like that breaks, you find somebody to repair it – and don’t rush to replacing it. We took it to the small appliance repair man and he fixed it within an hour at a very reasonable cost. He told us that he had to repair some bad soldered joints on the circuit board!

Many years ago, I made a boarding step out of some leftover “teak”. It has served us for many years (at least 10), and it was much better than the white inflatable ones that don’t last more than two years – but we found it a bit heavy, and we were interested in a replacement. Kevin had Adel (a local carpenter) make him one, and we were so pleased with the result that we ordered one as well. So, after the step was manufactured in 3/4” marine grade plywood, I finished it with Marine Cetol (5 coats) and then Diane and I glued a piece of foam to the back (where it presses up against the hull) and some “fender cover fabric” over the foam to protect the hull finish. This will hang on the toe rail on the port side, just at the boarding gate. It will make getting on and off the boat easier when at anchor (and we hang the dinghy on that side) and at dock (when we have a side dock).

3 thoughts on “19 April 2024 – Douz Desert Trip”

  1. This is a really cool blog Wade. Love seeing the pictures and getting a feel as to how things are done in that area of the world. We never think of drifting sand as a problem when we think of the desert. How do they clear the roads? Thanks for the informative journey.

    1. In my experience, I have only rarely see anyone take a shovel to the building dunes. When I lived in the Sinai back in 1980-1982, the drift could be 6 feet high and 20 feet across. In that case, they must (although I never saw it) come along from time to time with a piece of heavy equipment.

  2. Another fascinating experience along with so many others that you and Diane have enjoyed.

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