It looked like God had carved great fat fingers into the rock face. And around the corner, the earth was a deep burnt red, the colour you’d expect to find on Mars.
As Helder Rodrigues put his stock Super Ténéré through its paces in the dunes, a group of children appeared as if by magic, selling newspaper-wrapped trinkets and gemstones, in any language you choose, with any currency perfectly acceptable.
The day’s shorter ride was ‘just’ 356 km, complete with yet more stunning backdrops. Sand dunes disappeared into the distance and endless white tipped mountains continuously pierced the heavens. Villages were lined with brightly coloured scarves for sale and locals weaved through the streets on tatty bicycles.
Most of the women were covered from head to toe in black ‘Nekabs’ and a few even carried their babies on their backs, hidden away beneath the folds of the fabric. Lone walkers paced themselves in the heat, miles from any recognisable civilisation.
And the previous encounters with stray kamikaze dogs and the odd monkey hardly seemed worth worrying about when the present hazards were scabby camels loitering in the middle of the road, way too big for a Super Tenere to argue with.
A gorge was lined on one side with a stunning rock formation, aptly named Monkey Paw (or Tiger Paw depending on who you ask.) It looked like God had carved great fat fingers into the rock face. And around the corner, the earth was a deep burnt red, the colour you’d expect to find on Mars.
After riding for hours, through every imaginable curve and drag-strip straight, the Super Tenere cavalcade negotiated fresh streams of scooters and push bikes in Ouarzazate to a traditionally styled oasis called the Kasbah Riyadh Hotel Darchamaa.