T H E   G R A N D   E R G   O R I E N T A L

From the chaos that is Douz, I was able to identify a viable travel agency, Libre Espace, which agreed to take me out across the great sand seas in southern Tunisia to an oasis known as Ksar Ghilane.  There is no road to KG to speak of, only a trail that stretches 80 miles out into the desert.

Seen here is Mohammed, my driver.

And past a certain point, even calling it a "trail" is a generous description.  At this point we were dune surfing: charging up the side of  one dune in 4WD, crashing down to its base, and pausing momentarily to trace the next direction in which to go.

We left at about 1:00.  By 3:00, the dunes began to take on a silvery aspect, due to the angle of the ambient light.  What is remarkable about the photo at left is that (a) it features no post hoc color manipulation and (b) it is exactly as I remember it.

Around the same time/area, with the light at a slightly different angle (which you can see from the direction of the shadows).

Here we had climbed in the 4WD as high as possible up the side of the largest dune in sight, which was about 30 feet high.  To get a sense of scale, the ripples behind/below me are actual dunes, of approximately the same size as those shown above.

You can see the sand blowing off all around.  This was by no means a sand storm, but just from minimal speech, by the time we got back in the truck, we both had sand grinding between our teeth.

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