Another one of those “I never knew it existed but now that I do I’m glad no one else does” kind of places. After an almost six-month drive from Istanbul, down trough the Sahara, than across the Sahara, than partially back up through the Sahara, Niokolo-Koba was basically our last stop before we ended our trip in Dakar.
What an ending too, with fields full of animals, sunsets blazing with color, and a camping site up on the banks of the Gambia River. We would watch the monkeys play in the morning, watch hippos and search for lions in the afternoon, and than come down to a viewing hut in the afternoon to watch a virtual Garden of Eden type setting of animals under the setting sun. Perfect.
The sun is slowly sinking, the temperature getting almost bearable after a day of unrelenting heat. I can almost take a full breath again without having to worry about burning my tongue on the desert air. Every minute and every inch the sun sinks, the temperature goes down a degree to match. It was an exhilarating first day of driving down the Nile from Wadi Halfa and I think we’re already at day four without a shower. We start looking for a spot to camp, ha, “looking” really not being the right word, but more like choosing an area out of a million perfect campsite areas. We just head left for a few minutes, figuring the further we get from the Nile the better we’ll be. Around a mountain we run into a sand flat that must be five, maybe ten, miles across, head to the middle, and park on the flat. Surrounded by black mountains, tipped here and there with dunes carried by the winds like reversed waterfalls of caramel moving up the cracks of the black rock, this place is truly amazing. Continue reading →
Bigger than the United States. More color than a box of Crayola’s.
A nighttime sky like you’ve never seen. Daytime heat like you’ve never felt.
The sun is not called the sun here. I call it the blazing ball of fiery hell.
…spend a few months under it, you probably will too.
It rises, and you feel it …and I mean feel it. It’s so hot that you can almost hear it.
It falls, and so does the temperature.
The desert, it’s almost alive. It moves. It changes. It slides, it slithers.
What was there one day is gone the next.
What wasn’t there last night is here now.
You camp in a flat plain one night and wake up in the morning between dunes of sand.
You wake up to multiple sets of animal tracks around your door.
You hear sounds you’ve never heard. See the sky like you’ve never seen.
People, cultures and tribes you never knew existed.
In the sky at night, nebulas and stars that you didn’t know one could see.
There are a countless number of other things also. The small things that combine to make it what it is.
The scorpions, the fenec foxes scampering around camp at night.
Turning the corner, only to run smack into the side of an ancient pyramid, a palm fringed oasis, a group of AK wielding rebels, a family of nomads. The Tuareg …ahhh, the Tuareg.
Maybe the toughest bunch of people I’ve ever seen. A very appropriate people for the place.
It may not be the sandiest, the hottest, the lowest or the …whatever.
But it definitely is “The” Desert of Deserts.
Below is a second in the life of it…