The whole day after we left camp consisted of driving. We stopped at about 9:00 at a wayside gas station in the middle of a bleak, windswept plain to pump the up tyres then at a little cafe 100 yards further up the road for a glass of sweet tea with a group of the local sheep looking on.

At 12:30 we arrived at the small memorial to a man who died on his way to Mecca and which tradition says you must derive around three times for good luck. A mile before the shrine, beside the road, lies the burnt-out remains of a VW Combi van that apparently exploded & caught fire after its two American occupants had drive past the monument without circling it 3 times! The shrine is set at the foot of some huge, rounded granite hills and surrounded by sand-blasted rock formations amongst which we had lunch.

The shrine you must circle three times, Sahara Desert, Algeria.
The shrine you must circle three times, Sahara Desert, Algeria.

The whole afternoon consisted of non-stop driving much of which was on the rough, dusty track right next to a brand new tar seal road which no one is allowed to drive on until it is finished which, if the rate things get done in Africa is anything to go by, will be a long time.

Mid-afternoon, we passed through a deep gorge, with sheer cliffs of layered rock rising on either side, thena few miles further on, our first glimpse of the huge, golden sand-dunes, the Grand Erg Occidental, presented itself.

The Grand Erg Occidental.

We camped the night amongst a patch of weathered granite boulders and watched a beautiful sunset beneath a cloudscape that looked exactly like the Nor’ West arch at home. The night was cold and breezy.

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