Alice Morrison: How I've prepared for my Sahara Desert adventure

Adventurer Alice Morrison has just embarked on a 2,000km walk across the Sahara, from the top of Morocco to the bottom. Here she reveals the preparations she has made to ensure its success...

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Walking across the Sahara (Alice Morrison)

Walking across the Sahara (Alice Morrison)

On November 26, 2019, I am embarking on a three month exploration of the Sahara desert on foot. The expedition will cover 2,000km, beginning in Oued Chbika on the Atlantic and ending at Morocco’s southernmost tip and its border with Mauritania, La Guera.

I'll be travelling with my Draa Expedition team of three Amazigh (Berber) guides, Brahim Ahalfi, Brahim Boutkhoum and Addi ben Youssef, plus five camels: Alasdair, Hamish, Callum, Murdo and Sausage. My expedition is being organised by Jean-Pierre of Désert et Montagne Maroc, who has 40 years of experience in the region.

My aim is to explore the landscape and history, talk to and learn about the Sahrawi people who live there, and see for myself the effects of climate change on our planet. Water will be a big issue for us and we will be walking from well to well. 

Here's how I've been prepared for the trek...

1. I've done some serious planning

Planning is one of the most important parts of any expedition and on this trip, Jean-Pierre’s expertise has been invaluable.

We have mapped out the basic route we want to follow and also where we will be doing food drops and food resupplies. We are hoping that there will be enough for the camels to graze on for some of the trip but for some of it we will need to carry food for them as well as for ourselves. 

Also, as we are passing through a sensitive military area, we need to have permission from the authorities and then send them our GPS location every night.

Our camels need to have their vaccinations up to date and interesting, need to have up-to-date passports so they can travel freely. 

2. I've sorted out my communications

I need good communications for several reasons. Obviously, for safety concerns, but also so I can write and broadcast what I am doing. I want to raise awareness and I hope this will allow people to enjoy the adventure with me. 

My communications equipment is essential - but fairly basic. I'm taking my iPhone 11 (which will also double up as my camera), an iPad Pro, and two large solar panels to keep everything running. I also have two solar lamps for my tent and for the mess tent.

3. I've got the right (somewhat unexpected) gear

Counter-intuitively, it is going to be very cold at times and so I need warm kit. In fact, I have become obsessed by warm kit! 

I’m taking some merino baselayers for night time and Craghoppers new Expolite jacket, which is suitable for temperatures as low as -5°C. My jacket doesn't use down, and therefore is more sustainable. 

Also, and this is so cool, I've got some new Craghoppers boots which have creepy crawly covers that button over the top so that scorpions and snakes can’t sneak in. 

4. I've secured a strong emotional support system

Alice and Brahim Ahalfi (Alice Morrison)

Alice and Brahim Ahalfi (Alice Morrison)

Emotionally, I am gearing up for a huge challenge - away from my network. It's going to be three months away from friends and family and, very importantly, my beloved Squeaky the Cat.

I’ve been making sure that I have talked to all the closest people to me in the week before departure, and of course, I can still keep in touch to some small extent while on the trek.

This is something I've really had to think about and prepare myself for - as you would on any long-term or solo excursion. Fortunately, I absolutely love my three travelling companions.

5. I've fattened up

Moroccan desserts (Shutterstock)

Moroccan desserts (Shutterstock)

The best bit of preparation is, undoubtedly, the fattening up. Food supplies will be extremely basic, so I have been eating like a donkey.

I have put on plenty of weight which I can use as we walk along. Luckily, fattening up is not a problem in Morocco, where the food is plentiful and uniformly delicious.

Not very flattering for the selfies... although with the sheer amount of walking we'll be doing, I suspect it won’t take long to lose any extra kilos I might be carrying.

Alice Morrison is an adventurer and author of three books, My 1001 Nights, Morocco to Timbuktu: An Arabian Adventure and Dodging Elephants.

Her latest Saharan Expedition is sponsored by Craghoppers and can be followed on her website, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. She will also be broadcasting podcasts, live from the desert. 

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