Star trekkers Diane and Chrissy Le Count have had the most amazing experience of their lives.
The daring duo completed a trek across the Sahara, and helped a community project in Marrakech, so far raising funds totalling £4,660 for HRCC. Diane tells us in her own words about her tremendous trek:
This was, by far, the most difficult and yet the most amazing and rewarding experience of our lives.
Day One: We meet our superb trek leader and driver at Marrakech Airport and set off across the stunning Atlas Mountains to our first destination, Ouarzazate where we pass the famous Atlas Studios. Enjoyed an evening of getting to know our trek buddies.
Day Two: We set off early across miles of barren land and isolated villages with dried up rivers – shocked by the extent of poverty. Met our three Berber guides and camels at the edge of the Sahara desert in time for a hearty lunch before setting off on a two-hour trek in 40+ degrees across stony ground. Arrived to the smell of mint tea and can’t quite work out how the Berbers have already pitched camp and have a dinner of soup and delicious couscous on the go! This was the best part of the day – clear starry night and so very quiet and relaxing – before retiring for the night in our tent. It was too hot to sleep until the early hours. Before dawn we were stirred from our slumbers by dogs barking, bugs buzzing and a mosque calling in people to prayer.
Day Three: Breakfast of mint tea, bread, honey and cheese before experiencing out first proper sand dunes and beautiful views. The intense heat makes for difficult trekking with shade a real necessity. Visited our last shop of the trek where we stocked up on cold drinks. The houses in this particular village are set around a maze of tunnels providing cool shade. Another 30 minutes and share a sense of overwhelming relief at spotting our Berber friends. Lunch followed by another three hour rest in the shade and then another challenging walk across sand dunes and rocky areas before we reach camp. A better sleep and awoke before dawn to find our camel friends, Alan, Steve and Jeff, sleeping peaceful by our tent.
Day Four: A beautiful clear morning and sunrise. The scenery is stunning, but there are more rocks underfoot. We enjoy a small stop by a salt lake. Our guide warns us not to venture too close because of the risk of quick sand. Lunch is under the shade of trees, where Chrissy counts and treats her six blisters. The next stage leads us onto the old Timbuktu to Marrakech route used by traders until around 1935. The going is tough. We arrive at sunset to a shaped dip in a huge sand dune. We sit amused at watching camel Steve who manages to take off over the ridge. One of our Berber friends sets off after dinner to find him by torchlight. This is such a peaceful setting and to sleep under a stunning clear sky. Scurrying and buzzing followed by a million giant ants puts a stop to that idea. And then we realise we have pitched our tent on a giant ant nest. Everyone helps to move our tent, and we painstakingly pluck the ants from our bedding!
Day Five: Not a great night as I was ill, and we set off at 8am for a lengthy trek today. For a special treat in the evening, we set off from our village base, we go on a small trek, collect wood, and make a fire where we bake bread in the embers. On our return to the village we visit the oldest house in the region – 500 years old – now a small family run museum, home to fascinating implements and tools.
Day Six: Our return trip across the Atlas Mountains is scary to say the least! Another long and hot journey, interrupted by a landslide on a hairpin bend and the impatience of the Moroccan drivers reminds us of Wacky Races! Eleven hours later we arrive in Marrakech to the most fantastic traditional dinner, music and belly dances.
Days Seven and Eight: We are welcomed at the Daralbir Association Residential Home for teenagers and pensioners. We paint walls and ceilings and create a beautiful garden our of an overgrown thorny wilderness. We have blisters on our hands and warmth in our hearts for these are such amazing, hospitable people. We present gifts of stationery, sports equipment, clothes and medicine. Our final hour is spent playing football with staff and residents, followed by an emotional farewell.
This trip had so many ups and downs and we would not change a thing. We are left with special memories of an amazing adventure with very special people for a very special cause.