Everyone who knows us is well aware that we prefer a certain type of vacation. Nice boutique hotels, long dinners, good drinks. We never stray from this principle and Dupsy always organizes perfect trips for us, be it a short weekend getaway or a multiple week long vacation on another continent.
Welcome to the twilight zone then!
A friend suggested to us to take an overnight trip to the Lompoul desert. Dunes of sand, the scalding heat, big cities far away. How could we top this? Yes! We stayed at the Camp du Desert. We booked a tent for us three and got on the 4 hour long drive from Dakar.
After driving to Lompoul we had to change into a 4×4 vehicle to make our way over sandy paths to the camp. The ride was bumpy but the view beautiful. You drive through a savanna landscape, passing small settlings of huts and the casual goat here and there standing at the side of the way.
At the camp we checked into our tent. There are rows of white tents around a central yard as well as a spacious tent that serves as the resort restaurant. We got asked by staff if we would be interested in upgrading to their biggest tent which was unoccupied, we jokingly called it the presidential suite. The upgrade fee was rather minor and well worth it, buying us a really big tent (I would estimate 50% bigger than the one we originally booked) in a secluded are of the camp, including a small table with chairs in front of it, nicely shaded by a small group of trees.
The tent housed one double bed and two single beds. It came with a nice little “bathroom” that isn’t actually a room and was really cute.
So here we are, in the middle of a desert about to sleep in a tent. Us, the Drunk Adventurers, the “no way will we ever go camping” crew. There is no electricity, there is no hot water. But there is amazing weather and really friendly staff. So I guess you could say it’s evening out well so far.
We finished our day by taking the 4×4 out to the Atlantic coast. It was a 30 minute ride through the scenery. You could tell how the landscape changed as we approached the beach which the perceived temperature radically dropping and the smell of the sea flooding the air.
We met some nice people back at the camp and had a delicious dinner. They served a soup followed by lamb, couscous and a chickpea stew. Last but not least a little piece of chocolate cake while watching a rather impressively sized centipede making its way along our table. Good thing we weren’t barefoot in contrast to some other people. There was a show of drumming and dancing around a bonfire but it wasn’t really our taste, maybe it just seemed a bit too much of what you’d expect for tourist entertainment. After accidentally stepping on a scorpion right next to my bed, luckily while still wearing my shoes, we decided it might be better to keep our eyes open and be a bit more aware of the surroundings. We dutifully ignored the big spider on our bathroom mirror and got to sleep.
It can only be described as weird sensation when thinking back to the contrast between the nights in Dakar and Lompoul. At the house in Dakar, there is constant noise. The neighbor has a home for goats, sheep and geese, entertaining us with a cacophony of animal screams 24/7. In Lompoul there was silence during the day and evening. You could hear the wind and some single camel sounds but it was peaceful, soothing the mind. Alas, night came and so with the heat retreated, the wildlife had awaken. When it got deep into the night you could hear the silence pierced by diverse noises. After our run ins with the creepy crawlies we always wondered if the sound comes from inside or out of the tent.
After a night of interrupted sleep we got up early, had our cold shower and headed out to breakfast. We finally were about to do what we originally planned for the first afternoon: we would go ride camels into the desert!
My mind said yesss! Modupe’s mouth said hell no! After a short discussion in our group we settled on a 15 minute camel back ride, the shortest option they offer. It would still get us into the dunes which to see we had come.
We named our camel Ricardo and off we went. He is the fluffiest one they had, which later turned out as not that amazing because he also was rather filthy and rubbed off onto my pants. I still thought he was a pretty cool camel, within my limited scope of camel expertise. We tried to shoot some videos while riding him but that prove futile with the motion of his steps.
The Lompoul desert is rather small but it feels like you are in a completely different country than the rest of Senegal. The soft, yellow sand makes you feel like you just appeared in the Sahara.
We concluded our little excursion back at the camp before heading out by foot again for a short time. The temperature had risen back to 37°C but thanks to a low humidity of only a bit over 40% it was not feeling as meltingly hot as expected. No sweated through shirts as you would get in South-East Asia or the Caribbean.
We eventually returned back to the camp and made us on our 4 hour way home. I leave you with some more impressions from the dunes and hope you consider a stay at the desert too. We didn’t regret it and would totally repeat it… in like 30 years or so. Camping is just not us.