We use cookies to give you the best possible experience on our site. Click here to find out more. Allow cookies

arrow Register here

Forgotten password?


Day 65: The Ténéré Desert

Michael Palin - SaharaI look back at my footprints. They're quite deep, much deeper than the camel prints beside them. Their broad feet work like snowshoes, distributing their weight and leaving barely a mark.

The classic description of a camel is a horse designed by committee, but it's not quite fair. I see it more as a horse designed by rival universities, all of whom got a grant for different parts. Technologically, it is far more interesting than a horse; it's just that the whole lot could do with some co-ordinating hand.

Time for some more water. I've almost drained my water bottle, but I notice none of the cameleers has taken a drop. We're walking along a wadi and Omar is up on top of a low dune, scanning the land ahead. As we draw level I raise my bottle and he comes down towards me and fills it up again.

Then he leads us out of the wadi and onto the dune, beautiful to look at but murderous underfoot. My feet slip down into the sand and for the first time on the walk I feel faint alarm. By the time we're at the top of the dune I can hear my heart thudding. I slither down the other side and find myself in a long curving bowl between two ridges, dotted with tussocks of krim-krim grass and the bleached white branches of dead trees.

Elias Abrokas, swathed in a multicoloured scarf, draws water from a green plastic container into a stainless steel bowl and walks up the line with it. No-one seems to take more than a couple of gulps, and the camels don't stop.

The sight makes me thirsty and I take out my bottle. It's nearly empty again, and by now I'm level with the last three camels. Tuck my bottle back in my bag, put my head down and concentrate on catching up. Mercifully, there is harder sand down here and my boots can get some grip.
Choose another day from Sahara


  • Series: Sahara
  • Day: 65
  • Country/sea: Niger
  • Place:
  • Book page no: 184

Bookmarks will keep your place in one or more series. But you'll need to register and/or log in.