Our unforgettable Sahara Desert trek

780 400 Susie

Spread a Smile’s team of intrepid explorers have returned from an incredible 5-day trek across the Sahara Desert, raising over £25,000 to help spread even more smiles to seriously ill children and young people.

“An unforgettable week spent with an incredible group of people. The skies, the sand, the stars, the smelly camels, the blisters, the campfires, the emptiness, the quiet. We laughed ’til we cried. We cried ’til we laughed. Supporting each other to just put one foot in front of the other, never forgetting the reason we were all there: to raise money to help critically ill children and their families. It was an adventure of a lifetime. I’d do it again in a heartbeat and would recommend it to anyone.” Caroline Carey, Team Smile

Our trekkers covered 100km in total, taking in beautiful yet forbidding landscapes punctuated by peaks, gorges, dunes and oases, enjoying traditional Berber hospitality and sleeping under Africa’s star strewn skies.

Spread a Smile’s Director of Operations, Roxane Caplan joined the team on the trek, sharing her experience with us;

“On Saturday, I returned from an awe-inspiring week in the Sahara Desert for Spread a Smile. There, I was joined by Richard, Tim, Hugo, Rachel and Jon, Della, Simon, Amy and Caroline for an adventure we will never forget.

“Our journey together started at London Heathrow, flying via Casablanca to Ouarzazate in Morocco, our gateway to the Sahara Desert. The following morning, we were driven six hours further inland where we entered into the Jebel Saghro region and started our trek on the Maider El Kbir plateau late that afternoon.  We arrived at camp elated and were delighted to be greeted with fresh mint tea and biscuits. On day two, we rose early at 6.30am and ate breakfast as the sun came up over the sand dunes. We climbed up and over the dunes of Jebel El Mrakib and admired stunning views across the desert just before lunch. We’d been on our feet non-stop for four and a half hours, so enjoyed a well deserved break resting under a canopy out of the midday heat. After lunch, we walked through palm gorges and across the dry Rhris riverbed before camping that night in an oasis of tamarisk trees. 

“Our evenings were spent playing games and nursing blisters, before the sun set, and then we would eat together, devouring delicious food, which was prepared each night by Fatima, our wonderful chef. Some days we ate chicken, cous cous and vegetables, other days there was beef on offer. We always finished our meal with fruit and a glass of verbena tea as we gazed up at the incredible, starry skies. 

“Our final day was spent trekking along the Tikertouachene river which was empty of water at this time of year, and after lunch, a brutal sandstorm closed in on us, lasting for the rest of the day until about 8pm. It made us feel like we were walking in treacle and that night, our sleeping bags felt like they were lined with sand that had been blown in by the strong winds! It made us appreciate how lucky we had been on the previous days with the weather, which although hot during the day, was breezy and never unbearable. At night, it was chilly, but we’d come well prepared, so everyone was comfortable.

“Over the five days, we trekked 105km, passing through a beautiful array of landscapes and feeling a huge sense of comradery and achievement as we crossed the finish line. We were led by the brilliant Ibrahim and Omar, experienced Moroccan guides who were friendly and knowledgeable and who we trusted completely, and we kept our spirits high chatting to one another as we walked across the desert, with the sun beating down on us. Some days we were walking for up to six or seven hours, but it never felt too much, with the beautiful scenery and great conversation, time passed quite quickly. 

“We celebrated on the evening of our penultimate day, with a nice meal, where people shared their experiences. We all agreed what an epic adventure it had been with a brilliant group of people who are now firm friends.

“Thanks to the support of this incredible group of people, Spread a Smile will be able to help hundreds more seriously ill children and their families this year. We are so grateful to each and every one of them and it was an absolute privilege to walk alongside them on this incredible journey.”

If you’re interested in joining us for one of our upcoming events or challenges, please email Rimi for a chat or take a look at some of our suggested overseas events here.

Thank you to our event organisers, Charity Challenge for all their support.