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Digital Subscriptions > Psychologies > August 2019 > Summer of adventure

Summer of adventure

Psychologies is all about navigating the peaks and troughs of our inner landscapes. And, when you push yourself to have real adventures, life opens up in unimaginable ways. Join Alice Morrison as she becomes the first woman to walk along Morocco’s Draa River – and three intrepid writers who try new activities to broaden their minds and experience

A happy life must be to a great extent a quiet life, for it is only in an atmosphere of quiet that true joy dare live BERTRAND RUSSELL

Miles of desert dreams in Morocco

This year, ‘Psychologies’ in-house adventurer Alice Morrison became the first woman to walk the full length of the Draa River in Morocco. Her Saharan expedition was beyond the wildest fantasies of a young Alice, who idolised the women explorers of the Victorian era

ON 9 JANUARY, I set of to walk

1,500km along the length of the Draa, Morocco’s longest river. My trek would take 81 days and I was accompanied by three Amazing (Berber) companions: Braham Avail (expedition leader), Braham Boutkhoum (guide and cook) and Addis Bin Youssef (cameleer) – plus camels Mudra, Alasdair, Hamish, Callum and Sausage.

This was to be a voyage of discovery. I wanted to experience a diferent way of life, travelling on foot so I would have the time to fully engage with it.

I knew it would be tough. I was entering the wilderness with three strangers who didn’t speak English.

I would be walking with no rest days for 11 weeks and four days and the terrain would be challenging from our start in the Jebel Saghro, the Mountain of Drought, through the oases valleys of the Draa, across the grand dunes of the Sahara at Erg Chigaga and west into the barren lands where water is scarce, finally ending at the Atlantic Ocean.

And it was tough. Walking, walking, walking across a landscape decimated by climate change, where not a drop of rain had fallen for nine months, and in soaring temperatures. Then, Brahim Boutkhoum would douse a towel in water and put it over my head and, even though it smelled of onions, it was heaven. Brahim Ahali would ind a pair of delicate blue-speckled hawk’s eggs to show me, making sure we didn’t frighten the anxious mother. Addi would teach me a song about how a quick-witted Amazigh bride foiled the plan of her Arab husband to kill her tribesmen – and we’d belt it out with gusto. Our shared experience brought us together and we became like a family.

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