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Moroccan Desert Camel Trek: An Experience Not Easily Forgotten

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lhanson
Oct 17, 2013


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Moroccan Desert Camel Trek: An Experience Not Easily Forgotten

Students ventured across the High-Atlas Mountains of North Africa, through sun-baked rock and lush green palm groves on a remarkable journey that few get to experience. They spent a moonless night under the stars in a Saharan Nomad camp after trekking though the desert via Berber led camel. Students clamored up the dunes to witness the setting sun, followed by the stars and the Milky Way. At times, they played drums around the fire and at times were silenced by the desert that surrounded them. In these moments, Facebook did not exist, there was no television, no distraction from the Internet, responsibility and worry were long forgotten. Students were able to disconnect and be present in the powerful beauty of nature. Some slept under the stars near the campfire and others stayed up in the cold desert air to watch the sunrise.

The next morning the students finished their trek, visiting the city of Marrakech were they sampled foods, scented oils, and spices as they explored the marketplaces of the ancient medina.

The Drâa Valley has served as a stepping-stone for Saharan exploration since the tenth century. The fertile palm groves provide an ideal oasis for weary travelers.
Samantha David from Rutgers University learns the traditional art of tagelmust or turban wrapping from a Berber local.
Haley Johnston from University of Alaska has her turban prepared before she heads out to the desert.
Students on their camel cast a wonderful shadow on the Saharan Desert sand.
Students rode camels for 90 minutes to make their way to the nomadic Berber camp.
The Tuareg are a nomadic tribe of the Berber that have their own language and are know for their blue clothing and nomadic lifestyle. The Tuareg's are spread throughout Saharan Africa with an estimated population is 1.2 million.
SAS students rushed to the top of the sand dunes to watch their majestic sunset over the Sahara.
At left, stars blanketed the night sky. At right, some students woke early to watch the dawn of a new day in the desert.
Cody Varela from Pace University points out constellations in the night sky.
Students couldn’t help but stargaze during the night. The slight cloudiness on the right is a bit of the Milky Way.
Early morning, just after sunrise, the students head out of their camp, leaving before the heat of the desert day.
A Berber man, wearing his traditional outfit, leads a group of five camels that bear the SAS students.
Hailey Slaughter from University of Denver test some scented oils and soaps in the Marrakech medina.
Palm dates are an essential commercial crop in Morocco, and the best eating dates can be found in Zagora.
Marrakech has been the gateway city to the Sahara since the 10th century because of the palm groves and oasis that surrounds the city. It has been and remains an important trading destination for spices, produce, livestock, gemstones, and silver.
Liz Parker from University of Tennessee, Claudia Mroczkowski from Loyola University, from Sarah Madden from Santa Clara University sample the various spices from a local spice and oil vendor in the Marrakech medina.
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