In addition to the Rif mountains in the north, the Atlas ranges transverse the country, divided into the Middle Atlas, the High Atlas and the Anti-Atlas. It is one of the highest mountain range in Africa, separating the Sahara from the coastal region. The mountain slopes and valleys are inhabited mostly by Berbers as well as nomads, following their sheep or goats around, pitching their dwellings wherever suitable. Rainstorms surprised us as we came down from the mountains into the desert proper and arriving at the hotel in Merzouga in the south-eastern corner, we found that the driveway was flooded. Only our skilful driver saved the day, and even two days later much of the entrance was covered in mud and water.
At first light, I could see towering sand dunes and camels out the back (dromedaries really), the dining hall was home to a family of lean desert cats with enormous ears and the rooms were traditionally decorated. Wattle and daub seemed the materials of choice, but our guide explained that these days, sturdier materials are used and only the surfaced daubed. The highlight of the trip was a camel ride out to a camp in the desert and sleeping under the stars, but as I’d become ill, all I could do was to wave goodbye as one by one, the group donned scarves tied in a Bedouin fashion, mounted their humpbacked steeds and slowly disappeared over the dunes.