The Hoggar (aka Ahaggar) Mountains are in the centre of the Algerian Sahara and are accessible from Tamanrasset by 4x4 along very rocky roads. Dan and I decided to visit them along with some other British travellers. We could have cycled there but it would have been murderously hard work and we would not have been able to carry enough water.
Nevertheless, it's a great experience when you arrive at the collection of flat-roofed houses which make up the 'visitor centre'. We dropped our kit in our room and went to climb up the hill behind the houses to sit on the crest to watch the sunset, which was spectacular.
But, it wasn't a patch on the sunrise the next morning. We got up very early in the cold morning and climbed up again to watch the sun come up. It was a moving experience.
It's unfortunate that many people won't get to see the Hoggar Mountains because of the political problems in the country. It is one of most vivid memories of our journey.
After a few months of cycling in the sunshine, the novelty of being in it wears off. When you stop, you seek shade. You want to keep it off your skin if you can help it. It's not that you don't appreciate the good weather. It's just that the sunshine is so strong in the desert that you have to get into the shade to stop yourself feeling as though you are being slow-cooked.
While cycling through northern Algeria in a particularly flat and stony part of the desert, Dan and I needed to stop to eat lunch. We were hungry but there was simply no shade in which to stop, eat and rest up before the afternoon ride. For miles around, there was just the rocky plain and the road.
That is, until we came across the little building in the picture to the left. It was about four feet square inside with a flat roof and one open side. It was big enough for the two of us to sit inside with our knees up and in the shade. To keep the sun off the open side and us, we hung up a thin towel. It was cool inside and a relief to be out of the sun. I have no idea what that little hut was for. It might have been a small bus shelter but there were no houses for miles.
Nevertheless, it was a blessed relief.
Will Hawkins lives in Lincolnshire with his family and is now a magazine editor and occasional adventure cyclist.
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