Surreal Sahara : Camel treks from Timbuktu

Sahara Miles of golden sands beneath azure skies.. hot breeze brushing past your face.. and you atop a camel, with oceans of emptiness all around… that’s Sahara for you. Visiting the world’s largest desert is an experience worth cherishing for the rest of your life, and you cannot really afford to miss it. So this holiday, while away your time following the track of generations of traders, bedouins and nomads… opt for a camel trek across the wind-sculpted dunes of the Sahara.

Sahara is accessible from a number of African countries, but one of the best ways to experience a real, adventurous camel trek is to start your journey from Timbuktu. The expeditions are strictly private, with no fixed schedules of departure or tenure. Each tour is specially designed according to your desires, and extends from a week to around twenty days. A typical trek begins from Timbuktu and ends at desert oases at Araouane and Taoudenni.

It is however advisable to make certain preparations before embarking on such a trek. A desert safari is preferrably for the physically tough and hardy. It may be worthwhile to remember that desert conditions tend to verge on the extremes — day temperatures may rise to about 120 degrees. Though your guide will always be there for help, this trip requires a certain degree of mental as well as physical stamina.

A typical caravan staff comprises of a Tuareg camp guide, a camp cook, and a groom for the camels. The daily routine during the expedition will mostly be an early morning rise, followed by breakfast and setting off at about 8.30. After the midday halt, lunch is prepared and you can spend the afternoon socializing with other nomadic tribals or traders. The final stop is at around 6 pm, just before sunset, giving you ample time to take snaps. Camps are set up by the staff and though special dome tents are available for the night on request, most visitors prefer to sleep on mattresses under the sky. With the soft glow of campfire underneath an ocean of stars, sleeping on the open desert is sure to be an unforgettable experience!

The food served on such desert treks usually center around rice or pasta with mutton and tinned vegetables and fruits, and dried dates or baked breads. Carry your own water purification tablets as water is available only from deep desert wells that may sometimes prove to be unhealthy.

The best time to plan this exquisite camel trek is from September to April. The months from July onwards witness the onset of monsoons and may result in delay and other hazardous problems as rain is often preceded by dust storms, which is not a fine thing to encounter on a desert tour. So plan your expedition accordingly and book your trip well in advance in order to spend a few carefree and exciting days right underneath the blazing sun, in the arms of oceans of sand, right into the heart of Sahara. Bon voyage!