This was a surreal experience to say the least and one we feared and were most excited about all at the same time. My biggest fear was the heat, and I’m not going to lie, it was hot – about 124 degrees that day. That being said, we didn’t set out on our trek until almost dusk and it didn’t really feel that hot since the sun was not beating directly down on us. It was just the four of us and our camel guide, Ahkmed. This was a little intimidating as we had just met him and we were headed out five miles into the desert on our camels with nothing but the clothes on our back (and my camera equipment). Ahkmed, however, was on foot and was carrying on his back all of our bedding, all of the fixings for our dinner (which included a chicken for tagine, a watermelon and assorted vegies) and some supplies. I’m not sure how he found our camp and our way back the following day but we were very impressed at his knowledge of the desert and good sense of direction. As soon as we arrived at our desert home for the evening, Ahkmed set to work making our beds and preparing mint tea and then our dinner which was served in a candlelit berber tent. Following that, he dragged out some mats and we laid down and looked at the stars which were nothing short of amazing. A sky so dark, I’d compare it to black velvet only lit by the stars which looked like a million sparkling diamonds. Our hope was to see a shooting star and we were not disappointed. Up until then the evening was just magical. Then it was time for bed. Our tent had four twin beds and fresh linen however, there were no windows and it was very hot and stuffy in there. That coupled with the hand-sized sand spider we had seen earlier in the latrine kept us up all night. We all just laid there waiting for Ahkmed to come to the tent at 5:00 a.m. and get us for the sunrise. After a light breakfast, we all mounted our camels for the trek back which seemed twice as long as the day prior. With each camel step, our butts were reminded of the previous days trek and the pain from being jostled around for a couple of hours with legs spread so wide as to accommodate the camel saddle. My feet couldn’t have been happier to touch the sand and I think we all agreed afterward that we would probably never do this again. All that being said, we were so very grateful to have had the experience. Certainly a once in a lifetime opportunity and Ahkmed comes highly recommended to anyone visiting Merzouga. Let me know if you need his contact info.