05.48 Alarm goes off. Sun still below the horizon. It is impossible to catch the colours of this dawn on a camera – the understated soft lilacs and blushing pinks are turned into overblown oranges. Well, perhaps I should turn off the automatic settings, but it’s time for a run.
Nicely warmed up half an hour later, it’s time for stretching. The location is a round, carpeted cushioned enclosure open to the sky and looking over the lake. By now the sun has bounded above the horizon preparing itself for a busy day heating us all up. As we finish deep stretches a flock of flamingoes flies past. It’s going to be a lovely day.
After extensive breakfast, time for morning training. Found some shade – the basis for this week’s training is set out, and we make a start. Once it’s too hot to move any more, we pile into Landcruisers. My opinion of these steel camels has not changed: fast, bumpy, irascible, spit in your eye, tireless, indomitable, and dependable. I have taken a vow never to ride a live camel again – but a steel camel, anytime.
We are not yet at the Great Sand Sea, but the dunes are pretty big. Dire Straits playing as we go up and over – the sand is the colour of gold and it is a challenge to perceive the proportions and where the lines are drawn. This is serious play time for the drivers working out the physics of taking a ton of metal and humans up a steep gradient and down the other side without going into freefall.
Arrive at a salt lake and go in for a swim. “it’s not cold!” shout those who are in, “Wrong!” retort those baking on the shore. It’s not quite the Dead Sea but it is so salty that it’s impossible to sink. To rinse off we use a big garden sprayer with fresh water (no pesticide, we’ve been good).
There is a palm leaf shelter for a picnic lunch and nap. Then more dunes, dunes, dunes. Finally return to Eco-lodge for afternoon training. Appreciate hot shower by candlelight, weird candles that splutter and spark in the dark – maybe the sand gets into them.
Usual Sahara evening routine – superb dinner, sit round fire, toast marshmallows, sip Royal Salute, talk rubbish to set the world to rights, early to bed.