Erg Chebbi, Sahara Desert, Morocco

Erg Chebbi, Sahara Desert, Morocco

find myself in front of Erg Chebbi, one among the oceans of
dunes on the western edge of the Sahara Desert. Like a border
scored in the sand, all infrastructure abruptly ends at Erfoud a
few miles down the road. Civilisation gives way to the hamada’s
rocky textures and further on the horizon the Erg’s sweeping,
shimmery expanse.

Shelter, paramount amid the austerity of such a landscape, is
impermanent and primitive – threadbare rugs underfoot, a tarp
overhead and a firepit dug in the sand. When lost in the immensity
of the desert, time seems to fluctuate. Fleeting, kaleidoscopic
moments of intense, soul-wrenching beauty at sunrise and sunset
rapidly succeed one another, sandwiched between languid hours of
exhausting heat and frigid nights.

Tradition holds great importance to the Berber peoples
inhabiting the Sahara. Techniques used for thousands of years have
yet to be bettered by any modern equivalent. Earthy tagines
slow-cooked on embers, daily afternoon siestas that provide respite
from the scorching sun, nightly gatherings around the fire – all
stem from a routine based first and foremost on the freedom to live
in one of the most inhospitable places on earth.

This article appears in Volume
25: The Pioneer Issue

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Casablanca, Morocco