Alice has been walking every day since 26 November 2019 from Oued Chbika on the Atlantic coast of Morocco, and finished on 12 February at Guergerat on the Mauritanian border. The aim of the expedition explores how climate change is impacting the region, in particular the Nomadic tribes. Severe droughts have caused the Sahara to grow by 10% and desertification has taken up 16% of arable land every year.
Alice walked with three local guides, Brahim Ahalfi, Lhou, Addi Bin Youssef and six camels, Hunter (named in honour of her by his handler), Hamish, Hector, Callum, Alasdair and Sausage. They are the same team that joined her when she walked the Draa River in Morocco, and was the first woman in history to do so.
Kitted out in Craghoppers gear, such as the Expolite II Hooded Jacket, NosiLife Adventure Shirt and Kiwi Pro II Trouser, Alice has chosen Craghoppers technical clothing to keep her cool during scorching hot days and warm during the freezing cold nights. She also wore the Salado Desert Hi Walking boots.
On completion, Alice said: “A big thank you to Craghoppers for sponsoring this, without whom, this expedition to look at the effects of desertification on the people and landscape of the Sahara… would not be possible.
“My boots have done three months across the Sahara – no sand in there or blisters! They are really good boots which are very light and flexible with a nice high top and they’re very comfortable to wear. They also have a little cover (Crawler Guard) that you can put over the top to stop the insects going in.
“Exploration is as important as it has ever been. In the UK it feels like we have too much water, with floods destroying land and homes, in this part of the world, climate change is drying out the land.
“Although the Sahara has been a desert for thousands of years it has been able to sustain life until now. By walking these miles myself, I have seen first-hand the life that remains and the life that has vanished. From where the acacia trees are, to where hyenas can still be found, where there are plentiful hares and desert foxes to capture them, and also where the coruscating dryness means that there is no real life at all”.
During the expedition, Alice witnessed the migration of entire nomadic communities with hundreds of camels, in search for a settlement with more water. Alice and the team also found that they ran low on water and were only able to survive with the help of local people, the Sahrawis. They gave water to their camels as water sources could be 200km apart. The Sahrawis haven’t experienced a good rainfall since 2014 and the vegetation that the camel herds graze on is disappearing at a worrying rate.
“It’s been tough,” commented Alice, “Endless sandstorms, the constant struggle to find water, the sheer size and monotony of the landscape and the lack of life all made it a psychological battle to keep strong and positive and keep on walking – and then there were the encounters with snakes to contend with!”