Idioma / Language: Spanish

Er-Rached: one of the most impressive desert trackks I have ever done!

That day the real adventure began! After that first night in the middle of the desert, at the foot of the ruins of the castle of Ksar Ghilane, two more days of trekking awaited us until we reached Er-Rached. That was the goal! I didn’t intend to discover any gluten-free restaurants in Er-Rached because I simply didn’t expect to find any. We were in the middle of the desert! You can see the video of the trip here or clicking on the image below:

Subtitles available in English

That first night had been mind-blowing. Although with the full moon we didn’t see all the stars we could have seen, the sky was beautiful. The tranquility of the desert, with a gentle breeze swaying the tent, plunged us into a really deep sleep. We got up a little early to have time to have breakfast and pack up camp.

When the group was ready, we went to the foot of the castle dune.

The organizers wanted to see how we climbed that sand ramp to get an idea of our experience in the sand. When we all regrouped at the top of that sand dune, we started the route to the next camp. We had the whole day ahead of us of dunes, fun, adrenaline, getting stuck and shoveling – that’s what we were going for! Besides, Er-Rached was still two days away.

The dunes were quite different from the ones I knew from Morocco. There are big and long, here they were shorter and with short distance between them. Very fun but with some technical sections. Perhaps, I would dare to say that they were similar to the Erg Chigaga of Zagora.

That first day in the desert was amazing! In the morning the sand was easier, harder soil, easier to ride on. As the sun rose, the sand became softer and the shadows disappeared. This made the terrain harder to read.

Click on the image to access the form

The scenery was unbeatable! No matter where you looked you could see nothing but sand. The strandings of the others were useful for us to rest and admire and photograph the scenery. Our strandings were for us to learn. Everyone’s strandings served to have fun and unite the group. What a good time we were having!

Suddenly, the dunes began to descend until they reached a flat area. There was no sand at all. The terrain was hard and easy to ride on. Here we had to watch out because we had very low tire pressure and if we got too excited, we could get a flat tire or the tire out of the rim.

The view from below was also impressive. Seeing that sea of sand next to you while driving through the flat areas between the dunes was very nice. After a short while we went back up through that sea of sand to “surf” it for a while. And so it was repeated. That part of the desert was made up of different strands of sand that we had to cross.

After a while, we stopped for a quick bite to eat. We didn’t want to spend too much time eating. We stopped for about 45 minutes. We took the opportunity to eat some cold cuts with bread and a piece of potato omelette that we heated in a frying pan. All seasoned with the sand that the wind brought us. In an adventure like this, it is even nice to eat that batter!

We were moving at a fairly slow pace and we didn’t want to get caught in the night. it was a bit difficult to move forward.

After lunch, we crossed a couple more strings of dunes and suddenly we came to a huge esplanade. Totally dry. It was very similar to the hamadas of Morocco in the area of the Portuguese Prison, amazing!

After a few km driving without the swaying of the dunes we headed back to cross another cordon of sand. Although we had the road marked on a map, this was not accurate because that line only marked the direction to follow. We had to find our way through. The guides acted as shepherds and we (the herd) followed the safety of their path. It was great! One would lead the way. And the others went up and down, helping everyone to overcome the various obstacles that the desert put in front of us.

We arrived at the next camp at about 17h in the afternoon. We had been driving for almost 10 hours and it was time to rest. We were exhausted but very happy with how well the day had gone. We had all been stuck in one way or another, but it didn’t matter, that’s what we were going for!

We set up camp at the foot of another string of dunes. Again, we had to find a flat place to camp.

Although the tents were a bit more scattered, we put the cars in a circle to help cover us from the wind. We set up the tables creating a square in the middle of the cars. The group we had organized on the boat at the beginning of the trip had become our team. With whom we would ride for the rest of the trip.

The dinner went well. In the preparation of the trip we had defined a menu and, for now, we were following it perfectly. Besides, we were already getting to know each other and the offerings began. Those from Toledo brought typical cheeses. Others brought sausages. Delicious!

Then we joined the other groups to sit near a fire they had lit and share stories of other trips.

The next day, after having some gluten-free toast with Nutella for breakfast and packing up the camp, a pick-up arrived with diesel for everyone. How easy and pleasant it is to travel like this! With a full tank and a full stomach, we went on with the adventure. We were all very excited, we were arriving in Er-Rached that day! I couldn’t wait to see that lake in the middle of the desert.

Shortly after setting off, one of our companions had the tire off the rim. I had never seen it before… he had the whole tire out. Luckily, the tire was fine. You can see it on video here.

That day we witnessed a masterclass on how to reposition a tire on the rim. It only takes a few things: a shovel, a jack to lift the car, a brush to clean the sand from the rim and tire rim, water and a bit of patience.

In less than 40 minutes we had everything ready to continue.

It was noticeable that we had come a long way in the desert. The landscape was a little different. The dune strings were a little higher and wider. Every now and then you would find a tree in the dunes. And the plains between the dunes were smaller and with more vegetation.

History repeated itself. With different dunes that looked the same. Sand pots you didn’t want to fall into to avoid wasting hours trying to get out. Several strandings. Impressive landscapes. And everything, absolutely everything, bathed with adrenaline and laughter.

Towards midday, there was a moment in which, between the three groups that we were, there would be more than 15 cars stuck in the sand. We looked like little ants advancing through the desert.

Arrived at another plateau (or plain) we stopped to eat. That day we had a little more time because we had advanced a lot with the route.

That afternoon, Isa drove quite a bit, her first time in the desert! And her first time driving there. She had a good time. And I don’t think I had ever said the word “gas” (to get her to speed up) so many times in a row. Although I can’t compare with him in terms of experience, I admit that I felt a bit like when Ali el Cojo guided me through the dunes on my first time in Morocco.

After a while, we changed again at the request of the main guide. People were already tired and there was a stretch that was very difficult to pass. Although Isa was doing very well (of course thanks to having me as co-driver – sorry, I needed to make this joke) we changed. Luis asked me to take the car and drive to Er-Rached. That beautiful lake was just behind those tricky dunes we all faced.

After passing the obstacle, we were amazed when we looked to our right. A brightness that we did not expect illuminated us. Wow! A lake that seemed to be huge was waiting for us just below that string of dunes. Here you can see it in the video.

Arriving at the bottom, we were very impressed to see so much water and so much life in the middle of such an arid place. We parked next to a hut on the shore and went out to explore. Evidently, we took off our shoes and walked with our feet in the water. Some went for a swim. Others went straight to find a place for their tent.

It’s a great place I’d like to go back to someday!

Before sunset, we went to look for a place to pitch our tent. Er-Rached was surrounded by dune ridges and there were few flat spots. Luckily, between the dunes there was enough space for everyone. We spread out a bit in the area. The cars were always downstairs where we set up the tables.

That day there was a very special dinner: lamb with vegetables and salad! They had brought it from the city to cook it in the middle of the desert.

That day I hated being celiac… Why? Well, because I could not taste the desert bread… I am used to not being able to eat some typical foods but I would have been excited to try the bread baked in the sand. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see how they prepared it either, since I stayed in the camp preparing the food for the next day. We had brought Tupper wear and would eat pasta salad. So we could eat something more consistent without having to run because we didn’t have enough time.

After dinner, we gathered again around a bonfire and went to sleep by the light of the paper lanterns that the organizers had brought.

The next day we were leaving the desert after four days and returning to Douz.

You can see the pictures of the trip here.




P.S.: Please keep in mind that in this blog I share my trips, anecdotes and experiences about gluten free travel around the world. It is possible that, in any of my trips, I go to some restaurant not trained by the associations where the risk of being contaminated with gluten exists. I kindly ask you to also take into account that the list of references can change. Please, always double check before eating in the restaurants we recommend. Thank you very much!


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Me llamo Santi y actualmente vivo en la provincia de Barcelona. En 2001, me diagnosticaron de enfermedad celíaca… ¡por fin! Además, soy intolerante a la lactosa, la alergia al pescado me mata, ¡literalmente!, y también algunas frutas... Viajar sin gluten se ha convertido en mi mayor hobby y creé Gluten Free Adventures por esta razón. Desde los 8 años, he viajado y vivido en distintos países… ¡aquí comparto mis experiencias viajando para descubrir restaurantes sin gluten, pastelerías sin gluten y heladerías sin gluten por todo el mundo! ¡Espero que os gusten nuestros viajes sin gluten!