Reconnecting with the Sahara


People who are close to me knows that I have a penchant for uncommon and unpopular places. Being part of the geographic information systems (GIS) industry has helped me in many ways to get to know such places. This obsession was almost at its peak about 2010s while I was recovering from a personal tragedy. I had developed this deep desire to hike Amazonian rainforest (thanks to my friends in South America) in its entirety, and later realized, that it wasn’t totally a crazy idea when I heard about what Ed Stafford did, a year later. There were two such places I was obsessed with, and the second one was the Saharan stretch of Mauritania, where geometrically perfect craters and ‘polished’ rocks provide the visitor with a moon-like feel.


I picked up a copy of “Sahara” by Michael Palin just to rekindle that lost love. It took me many months to complete this wonderful book. I didn’t want the book (or the journey) to end, but it has to, someday. I have been reading travelogues and travel books and also watching destination films for quite some time now. After going through the minds of several readers, I feel that travel writing is not for all. People write in terms of their one-person experiences mostly about the nuances of traveling through foreign lands, the culture shock and the difficulty in getting paperwork done. Palin does a very good job in not only sharing his experience through the day, but also in his ability to thoughtfully link most of these with respect to the country’s history.

With his slight humor, he brings alive the streets of cities, desert trails, oases and also the boats in the mighty Niger. Even the camels are not spared. I’m sure his comments would bring a smile to many a reader. I would strongly recommend this book even if you are not a travelogue-lover. Just give it a try, I’m sure you would have a hard time putting it down.

Have you traveled to the desert or had a chance to read a travelogue of that sort? Please share your experience.


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