April 2022

Trekking the Sahara Desert

As I packed my suitcase to head home from Ouarzazate and leave Morocco, I couldn’t quite believe what I had achieved over the last 6 days. I felt elated, emotional, and so proud.

On Saturday 26th March I made my way to London Heathrow to meet a group of 33 fellow challengers and together we embarked on the journey to Morocco to spend the next 5 days trekking across the Sahara Desert in aid of our chosen charities.

I had decided to take on this trek in October 2019 to raise money for the British Skin Foundation after being made redundant from my role within the skincare industry. I had always worked within skincare and had seen the devastating impact of skin disease and skin cancer on my clients and those I worked with, so felt raising money would be a great way to continue to support those suffering. I came across this challenge online and felt it would be perfect as it would push me out of my comfort zone having never done anything like it before, and it also gave me a fitness goal to keep me motivated during the lockdown whilst fundraising.

Leaving home, I was in disbelief, the trip had already been postponed twice and I’d had to wait a painstaking 24 hours for my negative PCR test. I was excited, nervous and not sure what to expect. I was flying with a group of people I had never met before. I was concerned I wouldn’t be fit enough despite all the training done, and how I would manage with the heat and terrain we might come across but the thought of the money raised going towards such a great cause kept me going. 

After meeting the group at the airport my nerves quickly left as everyone was so easy to get along with. We shared stories about our chosen charities and got to know each other on the outbound flights and this formed the bonds that would see us through the crazy challenge none of us were expecting.

Once we reached the desert, we were all in awe of the surroundings. It was vast and never ending in a way that could never be described.

After an early start the first day was spent tackling the amazing sand dunes, which was exactly what you might picture if you were to think of the Sahara Desert. It was tricky to walk on, especially as the dunes became steeper and the sand became deeper and slid quickly under your feet with every step.

The afternoon quickly changed and as we headed onto the dry riverbed, sandstorm number one hit us. It was like nothing I had ever experienced as we battled against strong winds for 3 hours. All you could see were the feet of the person in front of you but we continued to fight against it as a group, sometimes hand in hand.

The sandstorms continued for the next 2 days. We experienced winds of 70mph as we climbed the mountain of Jebel El Mrakib. It was so strong so we had to alter the route as it would have been unsafe to continue. It was a terrifying but exhilarating experience as we reached the summit and slid down the sand covered rocks on the way back down the other side.

As the trek progressed we continued to fight against the storms. We experienced the first rainfall in the desert for almost four months and were forced to divert the route again and stop into a traveler’s rest (the only thing for miles around) - definitely not what I was expecting!  

As the final day approached our legs were tired, feet blistered, and we had kits full of sand, but the spirit of the team and the thoughts of the charities being supported kept us going. We crossed the finish line as a team, hand in hand having trekked a total of 104km.

The trek was challenging, unexpected, an emotional rollercoaster, but more than that it was the absolute experience of a lifetime that I will never forget. There are just no words to describe the vastness and beauty of the desert.

Yes, we fought the toughest weather with the biggest blisters imaginable, but we also witnessed the most amazing sunsets, sunrises, and undisturbed night skies.

I have made friends for life and am so proud to be making a difference to the lives of those facing skin disease and skin cancer.

Please remember; if in doubt, check it out.

Rebecca Graham 

Rebecca's JustGiving Page    Fundraise for the BSF 

By donating to skin disease research you are helping us to find treatments and cures for common conditions like eczema, acne and psoriasis through to potential killers like melanoma skin cancer. Thank you.