I have always had a fascination with deserts. They are desolate, wind swept places but full of mystery and intrigue. Those of us that love deserts I think are lured by their spiritual inspiration, the solitude, the adventure, their expanse and of course the dunes. Deserts encompass nearly one third of earth’s square miles and the Sahara reigns supreme at 3.5 million square miles.
Most deserts are not covered in dunes but rather gravelly plains or carved rock faced canyons. But it is definitely the dunes that attract us. There is sort of a life to a dune as the constant winds sculpt them keeping them perpetually in motion and their colour changes throughout the day.
The Sahara was my first desert adventure. I was young and in love – with the desert. There was nowhere else on earth I wanted to be. Sleeping under the stars you felt like you could just reach up and pluck one from the skies. I discovered that deserts actually do fall below freezing at night! Being young and a sun goddess I was naively unaware of the dangers of suntanning in the Sahara and so blithely soaked up the Saharan rays on top of the truck. I wowed my fellow travel companions with wonderful gooey cinnamon buns baked over the coals under the sand. Getting stuck and having to run alongside the truck in 40 degree heat throwing the sandmats under the wheels, retrieving them and throwing them under the rear wheels only to repeat the process over and over until we were unstuck. Hiking up the dunes and then rolling down them giddy with laughter and not a sole to hear it. Waking up in the morning and looking around all evidence of us with the dunes was erased and you realize just how formidable but beautiful deserts really are. The Kalahari and Dune 45 in the Namib beckon.