For me, being in the desert brings a mixture of feelings - utter tranquillity brought on by the vastness and silence, yet also a feeling of vulnerability, probably as a result of those very same features!
For those who've never been before it can be almost overwhelming - the sheer scale of it is mind boggling! And from the villages or road heads, once you've climbed up those initial dunes it opens on to an ocean-like vista, just with sand in place of water. Truly magnificent!
The above picture, taken at Taghit, was the result of a hard fought 40 minute walk up the dune, quite literally two-steps-forward-one-step-back as the sand took on almost liquid qualities. But the view from the top was incredible and just seemed to confirm the huge unspoilt distances encountered in these regions.
Despite the apparent harshness of the desert, it's soils are actually very fertile, and it's only the lack of water that produces this barren landscape. However, the ingenuity of centuries of civilisations has harnessed the water trapped under ground into galleries that are channelled to community areas, now formed into villages, where plant life is flourishing.
Now here's a fact for you - the richness of the Amazon Rain Forest is very much as a result of the Sahara desert! Yes, Really!! The wind picks up the dust from the Saharan salt plains, which is carried over the Atlantic, and it's first place of release is over the Amazon. This dust is so rich in nutrients that it's nature's most perfect plant food!
There's such a surprising contrast in colours too, despite the apparent lack of water and life. Our Tuareg guides wear their traditional dress which really offsets this phenomenon.
And finally, in the evening, from the hotel terrace, even perhaps with a small glass of Algerian wine in hand, there's the most perfect of sunsets! Followed by the greatest display of stars you're ever most likely to see! It really is one of the world's most incredible locations!