The People of Erg Chebbi

The Sahara Desert is a massive expanse covering almost 4 million square miles of northern Africa. Yet despite what on first appearance seem a region of very little life, there are many tiny villages hidden away in the dunes. Erg Chebbi is a relatively small stretch of Saharan sandy desert and it’s no exception. The people of Erg Chebbi are warm, hospitable and tenacious in their attempts at making a living. It is these encounters that provide us with our most memorable travel experiences.

The Female of the Species

It’s rare to see women within the dunes. They spend most of their time making house, caring for their families and going about their daily chores in the vicinity of their desert village. They will always hide their faces if they even get a sniff of a lens being pointed in their direction.

people of Erg Chebbi

Nevertheless they go about their daily chores of laundry….

people of Erg Chebbi

…fetching water…

people of Erg Chebbi

….and taking the donkey for a walk. As you do…

people of Erg Chebbi

And taking the children shopping, so they can carry it home.

people of Erg Chebbi

Of course, if they stand in front of an otherwise award winning image, they may become famous….

The Entrepreneurial Male of the Species

The fossil sellers have to be the most persistent of the Saharan entrepreneurs. Letting them know that you don’t wish to buy their fossils before you’ve even seen them, of course does not deter them. How would you know that you don’t wish to buy? When you see them, you may change your mind! Mmmm. I think not.

people of Erg Chebbi

people of Erg Chebbi

We had one fossil seller drawer a picture for us, allegedly with our names in the sand. Can anyone of you read Arabic and tell us if this actually says “you tight infidels”?

people of Erg Chebbi

He figured as payment, we could at least look at his wares so he laid out his stall. Still not much interest from our camp though.

people of Erg Chebbi

Tourists flock to the Sahara on their tour buses and the must do attraction for them is a sunset camel ride. They’re an easy target and the camel treks regularly wander past our camp at dawn and dusk.

people of Erg Chebbi

To be fair, these Berber nomads are simply trying to make a living. And with tourism taking a hit of late, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for them.

people of Erg Chebbi

Despite their persistence, they’re happy to chat and tell you about their families. Afra here explained to me that life without a wife, would be like 50 without a 5. I’ve being reminding Graham of this daily since.

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