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The Sahara Expedition: What Happens When the Land Runs Out?

December 5, 2019 Tour Operator No Comments Email Email

Scottish Adventurer and the presenter of BBC2’s Morocco to Timbuktu series, Alice Morrison, is undertaking her toughest challenge yet: a 2000 KM trek across the Sahara, the biggest hot desert in the world.

No stranger to epic adventures, Alice was the first woman to walk the length of the River Draa in Morocco in March 2019 discovering a lost city, the tombs of the giants and learning first-hand the dire effects of climate change and water shortage on a once arable and lush land.

Alice’s latest adventure will see her beginning in Oued Chbika, Morocco’s Northern most point on the Atlantic, and ending at the southernmost tip.

The journey is expected to take three months, she set out on November 26th, she will be travelling with the same team from the Draa Expedition including three local guides and five camels.

The aim of this expedition is to explore this virtually unknown part of the Sahara as Alice explains: “I will be tracking the death stalker scorpion, hunting for meteorites, investigating the unique sand statues of the south, and searching for the lost great bird monuments which lie hidden in the dunes”.

“Vitally, myself and the team will be recording what is happening to The Sahrawis peoples and the environment of the Sahara as the world heats up. In the last 100 years, the Sahara has expanded its territory by 10%, eating into arable land as desertification spreads. Desertification is one of the greatest environmental challenges of our time and climate change is making it worse.”

Alice describes some trials they will face on the expedition, “Extreme temperatures will be one of the greatest challenges myself and the team will face. Rainfall is virtually non-existent, there are no clouds, with bright sunshine over 91% of the time and the highest average daily temperature of 47 °C or 117 °F was recorded here. But that is not the worst of it, sand and ground temperatures are even more extreme and can easily reach 80 °C or 176 °F in the daytime, which is hell on the feet. Coupled with the heat is extreme cold at night-time. Temperatures will plummet to below freezing after sunset.

As well as the weather to contend with, the Sahara is home to some dangerous species that Alice and her team will need to be prepared for: “Vipers and scorpions are common in the region and their bites and stings can cause death. We will be equipped with anti-venom medicine, but this doesn’t work for every species.”

“There is a serious risk of running out of water as there is no up-to-date information on where viable wells currently are.” Explains expedition organiser, Jean-Pierre. To prevent this from happening he is putting a safety plan in place including provision drops and emergency water provision. “Food for the camels is also a concern. We will be following the nomads’ grazing routes but if climate change has dried out the camels’ diet of small shrubs and acacia trees, we will have to find and buy fodder”.

A formidable challenge awaits Alice and her team with unknown water supplies, the deadly inhabitants of the Sahara and the hostile environment they’ll be trekking through for three long months, but this hasn’t deterred Alice:

“I know this is going to be tough, but I know I have a great team around me. The Draa Expedition taught me a lot and I feel ready to take on this, my biggest challenge yet.”

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