We reached Campement Zmela late in the day, after rolling over dunes and bushes in the 4×4. We first pulled into Ksar Ghilane, where there was a little watering hole. Another group of tourists was bathing in it, they later did the Ksar Ghilane to Campement Zmela passage by quads.
Campement Zmela is situated on the edge of the Sahara, with tents that are already pitched, complete with a bed inside.
The space was surprisingly comfortable despite the sand surrounding the area! In the campgrounds were also toilet facilities and a dining area, kept impeccably clean by the staff.
Saghir invited me to join him on the dunes to watch the sunset.
This was the first time I walked barefoot on sand dunes of this size. It was surprisingly tiring to sink and to move again, the wind was constantly present and whipping bits of sand around our feet, wiping out our footprints slowly. Saghir was soon far ahead, I experimented with climbing on the ridges and going into the valleys.
We perched on the top of a dune, waiting for the sun to set. Saghir took the moment to call home, and as I listened to the lilting tones, I played with the sand, sifting it through my hand. How forgiving and vast the desert landscape was, sinking and covering over and constantly changing by the wind.
Saghir soon left to go back to the camp. I waited for the last bit of sun over the dark sky, now a soft orange fire. For dinner, we had couscous and flat bread cooked over the campfire, with the other inhabitants of the camp that night.
The stars in the Sahara were unlike any I’d ever seen – the universe felt so alive that night, full of light and shooting stars that descended freely. I sat on the sand next to my tent, looking up and soaking it in.
In the morning, I made sure to wake up early to catch the dawn light. Pink suffused through the desert this time, the sand was cool after the long night. I later learnt that Saghir and the other men who worked at the camp slept outside the tents – something I’d have loved to do if I’d stayed another night.