This was the Sahara in February. A surprising desert – knocking out all thoughts of rolling sands and Lawrence of Arabia. This was a desert with vast vistas of stones, marks of old volcanic calderas and dried out once-upon-a-time river beds. A good symbol you might think for ageing – just shows how resilience and toughness survives.
I walked across it (or some of it), with four friends, ten camels and four Tuaregs. In one week we covered 100 miles, walking six hours a day. A week of huge silences, clear skies and emptiness. We encountered the occasional wild ass, black goats and their nomad herders. A goat in the shadow of a rock that looked as if she was in distress, but was – as we watched – in the very act of giving brith.
People had lived and survived and died here for centuries. When they died, big rocks were just piled up over their bodies. We came across Muslim and pre-Islamic tombs. And in the middle of nowhere, the devout outline of a mosque.
At night we slept out in minus something temperatures. We looked up at more stars than the sky seemed it could have space to hold them.