Sahara in the Summer Algeria.
The tour company has long since ceased to exist, for who would be so crazy as to run 4wd camping trips into the sand seas of the Sahara during summer? But then you have to savour the experience at least once in your lifetime.
The thermometer registered 1240F (510C) in the shade, but surprisingly it did not feel as hot as one might imagine, for it was so dry that the perspiration instantly evaporated cooling the body leaving the shoulders and back white from the fine salt crystals.
We slept in the open under star studded skies, waking to a cool and pleasant morning. The sunlight itself did not feel overpowering but it slowly heated up the land which reradiated the heat super-charging the air. This caused the temperature to slowly rise during the day peaking around 3pm in the afternoon when the radiation from the sun started to fall. After 7 days the novelty started to wear off and the heat started to affect one’s psyche.
The closest sand seas to the capital Algiers is the Grand Erg Oriental, the approaches being extensive flat plains of light brown compacted sand with the visual monotony broken by small rock hills. The sand seas themselves had classical shape but were not as impressive as those of Namibia (see Sossusvlei Namibia).
Our trip was dominated by a spectacular sand storm. The group was having lunch on the desert plains 30Km from El Oued. I decided to photograph the camp from the top of an adjoining hill where I noticed in the distance a dark cloud covering the horizon and coming towards us. Ten minutes later it hit the camp with such ferocity that one had to struggle against the wind, the sand scouring the skin and making it difficult to keep one’s eyes open. There was pelting rain and lightning flashes and great peels of thunder and it became completely dark. The only safe place was in the land rover, and we decided to drive to El Oued picking up two Bedouins who were in dire straits hiding behind a bush. When we arrived in El Oued there was chaos in the city for the streets were knee deep in water. It hadn’t rained here for years and it had never flooded in living memory.