Thursday, October 14, 2004

25th-31st OCT DIARY(SAHARA)garden

"The plains of sand give way to the dunes, and the dunes to the plains. Nothing but sand."
--Frédéric Bernard, 19th century explorer

October 25th through 31st
A travel tale

Visiting the Sahara last week will be something of an inspiration to me, for some time I have had a soft spot for gardens in the sand and have visited many [Arizona, Nevada and now Sahara}

As soon as you hit the ground in Marrakech all the mysteries of exploration are in front of you, The beautiful colours of Tangerine and Ochre and the sweet smell of incense take hold and the tantalising chaos give you a kick that is different to anywhere in the world.

Last week was the start of RAMADAN and the air raid sirens scream along to the call of prayer at five in the morning and six at night, marking the beginning and end of the DAY, After six the streets and motorways of Morocco die, and every Muslim scrambles to eat smoke drink and calm down. If you happen to be on a bus or in a taxi at six it will stop and you and everyone else will slurp down Ramadan soup mint tea and cigarettes.

It was while on a bus from Marrakech to Ouarzazate that this happened to me a long drive south through the winding roads of the Atlas mountains, cypress and olive along with Acacia and Artemisia, doum palm, oleander, date palm, and thyme line the long route and the landscape changes with the clock.

Quarzazate to Zagora is buy Peugeot 206 shared with ten Moroccans a part of the trip I will try and forget, Then onto the last post M’Hamid from here on it’s 4by4 and camel as the expanse of sand starts to dominate.

The boundaries of the Sahara are the Atlantic Ocean on the west, the Atlas Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea on the north, the Red Sea and Egypt on the east, and the Sudan and the valley of the Niger River on the south. Sahara is divided into Western Sahara, the central Ahaggar Mountains, the Tibesti massif (a region of desert mountains and high plateaus), and the Libyan desert (the most arid region).

I travelled south through the route of the Paris to Dakar rally touching morocco’s boarder with Algeria. Algeria is still under the pall of its own civil war between Islamic fundamentalists and the government, and Morocco's Polisario rebels continue to fight government troops in the southern region of the country.

So this was as far as I wanted to go and glad I did.

One characteristic of the vegetation found in the Sahara is that these species must be able to adapt to unreliable precipitation and excessive heat, set amongst this awesome work of nature the garden of the Sahara is extremely humbling, Looking up into the BLACK night sky you get an idea of your place in the universe and seeing the sight of swallows migrating from England across this harsh terrain made me think about the astonishing achievements of nature. The Sahara Desert covers over 3.5 million square miles and has only 2.5 million inhabitants - roughly 1 person per square mile (0.4 sq km)- which is one of the lowest population densities on earth. Wherever abundant food and water sources occur, one will find relatively large masses of people and wildlife. On the whole, the Sahara is one of the harshest environments known to man. And is a trip I will never forget.
For more on Islamic gardens click onto MOROCCO on my website.

Photographs of this trip will be published here this week. Also in my online portfolio on

Photographs and text copyright 2004 andrew stenning


Blogger Brother Roy said...

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October 3, 2005 at 4:06 PM  
Blogger Brother Roy said...

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October 4, 2005 at 5:18 PM  
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December 13, 2005 at 10:19 PM  

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