We sleep well after another vegetarian salad feed and the obligatory mint tea, and a hot shower to wash away the desert grime. Morning arrives and we grab a black coffee. The back of the Auberge is literally about 50 metres from the sand and a small herd of camels. It is pretty exciting and not every day you can find this at your back gate. The locals tell us that this is the end point for the infamous Marathon De Sable, The Desert Marathon, Approx 150 gruelling miles. We finish our coffee and decide to try the bikes in the sand. It is tough going. We head out and drop off a few dunes to get our hand in, with mixed results I might add. Pringle hits a submerged tree stump and spills and I also manage to drop the bike clipped in. Other than a sand bath it is all good.
Undeterred we decided to get properly kitted up and head for the bigger dunes in the distance. If the first few runs were tough this does not bear comparison to the ‘Beau Geste’ like trek across the sand. In fact we are out for 2-3 hours taking it in turns to push/pull the bikes up the steepest dunes before dropping, riding, skidding and surfing our way down. We really hope that anyone following our escapades likes the photos as they were great fun making.
After many different dunes and experimental runs we decided to call it a day and literally trudge back. Time for tea. We spend some time getting to know the local camels (no euphemism intended)! It really is slightly amusing that they are so better equipped to be here than us. Although Merzouga is a place for petrol heads with all manner of 4x4 rides, dune buggies and of course the old faithful camels we decide it does not fit with our budgets.
We have been mulling over what to do next. Having cycled through the desert once and pushed hard neither of us has much desire to repeat it given our tight schedule. In summary we would much rather enjoy some tough riding, on and off road in the High Atlas mountains than flog ourselves back through the desert. We have been mulling this over since our ride in last night and think enjoying the a few days back in the mountains is a better plan.
So our plan now is to rise and shine very early, catch the sunrise over the dunes and then hit the road only back to Ouarzazate giving us a further 3 days to ride off-road and explore the mountains. So we are charging all our camera’s, the Mac air and getting ready to hit the road early again tomorrow. Incidentally it looks like rain, to put that in perspective it has only rained here once in the last year! OK it has now rained. Apparently that is lucky in the desert so that’s us then lucky as it goes.