Your questions answered
How many days was your expedition?
The timescale was around seven and a half months. The longest single one was the Sahara, the shortest was the Atlas. We didn't keep our GPS on all the time because we couldn't carry enough batteries, and we didn't use it to navigate because Brahim navigated using the wind and the sun in the Sahara. But approximately we covered around 4,500km in total.
How did you start all this? Did you know anything about camels beforehand?
No not at all, and I wasn't even really keen on camels before because they bite, they spit and they kick. But then I found Jean-Pierre Datcharry, and together we decided what to do. I really liked they he employed the guides and owned the camels. He really takes care of his men and his animals. The camels are properly vet-checked, tagged, fed and cared for. And that was really important to me. So yes I walked this trek, but Jean-Pierre Datcharry is the brains behind it and I highly suggest him!
I'm interested to know how you handle the balance between dehydration and overhydration?
Actually sometimes you can drink too much and dilute all your salts and minerals in your body. I was definitely on the dehydration side of things though. The funny thing is camels walk quite fast and don't stop. So I did not want to stop to pee, otherwise I would have to run to catch up. I don't mind doing that of course, but then I would have another five hours ahead of me to walk. So that's something I learned. Don't drink too much, drink just enough to pee on the tea break. So I actually rationed myself on water and was thirsty a lot of the time, just so I didn't have to stop to pee!
Do you feel you have changed as a person after this expedition?
Big experiences in life do change you. I loved this expedition, I love the people here, I love Hamish. It was so enriching, and I think my level of gratitude was extremely high. I think what I learnt was patience, and that was partly from the nature of doing this kind of expedition, but also for walking a lot with Brahim and learning a lot from him. I'm naturally quite impulsive and reactive, and of course on this kind of journey you learn to be patient. I learnt the benefits of sitting back and waiting, allowing things to take their course, and not allowing yourself to get angry. I feel my soul with enriched with this understanding. The first glass of hot sweet tea - after hours of walking in the Sahara in the boiling wind - was just heaven. So I learnt appreciation and I learnt patience, and I'm trying to keep those things in my mind.
How much Arabic can you speak?
I speak good Arabic. People are always very complimentary when I'm in the vegetable queue at the supermarket and someone says, 'oh sorry, I didn't know you were Moroccan'.
What sort of training do you do before an expedition?
I hate training and I'm really bad at it. I don't do enough. I'm climbing a mountain in three weeks time and I haven't started yet! So that gives you an idea. It is one thing I'm genuinely trying to work on. But what I should be doing is making sure I'm completely fit, doing lots of flexibility and core work and walking a lot in the mountains. That's the best kind of training.
Are trips like yours available to purchase? Is there a way to go on a shorter expedition?
Absolutely. In fact Brahim text me before I started this talk saying he's about to go on a 20-day trek which I think is pretty do-able. I sound like I'm advertising him because I really am, he's the man to go to! Contact Jean-Pierre Datcharry, Expedition Organiser. He can arrange bespoke desert adventures and you get to meet Hamish. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or head to the website desert-montagne.ma, and do mention my name!
What's your next adventure?
Fortunately I have one coming up soon! I'm returning to Uganda, where I was brought up, to climb a volcano called Mount Elgon, and I'm doing it for a charity called Salve International, which is a street children charity in Uganda helping children get into education and reuniting them with their families. I'm really looking forward to it and I really must start training! While I'm there I'm hoping to travel up to where we used to live as a family and go to a rhino sanctuary.