When going for a long walk isn’t fun anymore…

Book Title: Sahara – A Journey of Love, Loss and Survival

Sahara - book cover by Paula Constant
Source: Penguin

Author: Paula Constant

Promotional Blurb: A journey of love, loss and survival.

Having walked more than 5000 kilometres from Trafalgar Square to Morocco, Paula Constant finds herself at the westernmost edge of the Sahara Desert – and the brink of sanity. The wheels have fallen off her marriage and her funds are quickly drying up, but she is determined to complete the second stage: walking through the romantic Big Empty of Northern Africa to Cairo. 

Sahara is the story of Paula’s struggle to overcome her innermost demons and take control of her journey, her camels and the men she hires to guide her through one of planet’s most extreme regions. Illness, landmines and political red tape stand between Paula and the realisation of a life’s dream. 

Sahara is a thrilling adventure and a story of joy, heartache, inspiration and despair. But, above all, it’s a celebration of the human spirit in all its guises. Source.

My Thoughts: This is a good read, but a baffling one. You have to admire Constant for her bravery and sheer ‘grit’, but she seems to lurch from one disaster to another and does not seem to learn from her mistakes. Mistakes? Personally, I’ve made plenty, but I do my best not to replicate them and certainly not in an unforgiving and uncompromising environment like a desert.

Thar Desert, Rajasthan India
My own footsteps in the Thar Desert, Rajasthan India

My bafflement stems from why anyone would want to walk across a desert in the first place? I have no doubt that it can be incredibly beautiful and a mesmerising landscape, but is it really worth all the hardship and agony? And is it really 7,000km worth of beauty?

My mind goes far away when I walk through the Big Empty (her title for the desert) that I barely know what is real and what is imagination, and when I know it is time to stop, I draw myself reluctantly out of dreaming”.

And she would need to be dreaming to avoid the train wreck that is her life. Her husband has left her, her marriage on the rocks, and then she tumbles into an affair of sorts with a local man – all the while walking across a desert with little money and three moody camels.

Camels in the Thar Desert, Rajasthan India

The problem is probably mine, as I had really enjoyed her first book – Slow Journey South – and I came to this next book with her previous book firmly entrenched in my mind. In Slow Journey South there was a true sense of adventure, a sense of ‘hang it, why not?’ and possibly, more humour. Sahara is pure grimness and grind.

She is exhausted, filthy dirty and is taken for a ride by almost every local she meets, and I am not talking about a camel ride. She gets ill, almost dying from renal failure, and yet is single-minded about walking across the continent. To me, there is a fine line between passion and dedication vs sheer obstinacy and recklessness. I found myself losing some respect for her as she continued to place herself, and others, in danger and I often wondered, “what’s the point”?

Gradually, I have come to appreciate that the doing of it was, and still is, immensely satisfying and rewarding”.

Camels in the Thar Desert, Rajasthan India

Agreed, but at what cost? Personal cost? Financial cost? What good did she do? Or am I missing the point? Maybe I am simply not brave enough to undertake such a gigantic and daring adventure, for the very sake of adventure.

I do admire the scale of what she achieved, but not to the detriment of everything and everyone around her, and I am not sure it was even fun. Maybe we are all born with different definitions of ‘fun’. I know many people roll their eyes at me as I set out on another long walk.

If you love stories of gargantuan effort or have a passion for deserts, especially the Sahara, then you will really enjoy this book. Constant can write, and it is an engaging story, but a painful one at times. I gave it 7/10.

Author - Paula Constant. Source: abc.net.au
Paula Constant. Source: abc.net.au

Author bio: Paula Constant began walking from Trafalgar Square in 2004. Since then, she has walked over 12000km through eight countries: England, France, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Mauritania, Mali and Niger. From 2005-2007, Paula walked over 7000km through the Sahara, until she was halted by civil war in Niger. Her first book, Slow Journey South, was released by Random House in 2008Source.

Author blog or website: paulaconstant.com

Pages:  393

Published: 2009

Publisher: Random House/Penguin

Available from: Book Depository for AUD$32.68.

Footsteps in the Thar Desert, Rajasthan India

#travelreads  #longdistancewalking #travelinspo #thegreatoutdoors #armchairtravel #bookreview #saharadesert #africa #epicadventure #camels #desertwalks #resilience

31 thoughts on “When going for a long walk isn’t fun anymore…

  1. The Travel Architect October 13, 2021 / 12:15 pm

    I might give it a try. I read another book you recommended, Lands of Lost Borders, about the woman cycling the silk road. Now SHE can write. What a gift.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Life...One Big Adventure October 14, 2021 / 8:15 am

      So pleased you liked that book. Yep, she can write and what an adventure! This book doesn’t contain the same level of joy or maybe I missed it. Happy reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. margaret21 October 13, 2021 / 6:18 pm

    Hmm. My ‘Must Read’ list is so long I think I can afford to give this one a miss.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. wetanddustyroads October 14, 2021 / 12:30 am

    I love the desert … well, the look of the desert. Maybe even walking a couple of kilometers to appreciate the vast openness and silence – but 7,000km … no, not me! With our recent adventure of 5 days walking in the mountains, I had so many visions of an ice-cold Coke (and that while I was surrounded by mountain streams and fountains) 😄.
    Oh, btw … Bill Bennett’s book (The Way, My Way) … LOVED it!! Thanks for the recommendation!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Life...One Big Adventure October 14, 2021 / 8:18 am

      It sounds like your latest walk moved you out of your comfort zone a bit and definitely a long way from an icy cold beverage! No doubt it increased the anticipation and appreciation of home comforts when you got back to civilisation. I look forward to reading more. And, so pleased your enjoyed the Bennett book, not good for wanderlust though, is it??

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Heyjude October 14, 2021 / 4:26 am

    Deserts are not somewhere I would want to spend too much time in. My only experience is the Namib desert and 10 days spent travelling through the area from the border with South Africa northwards to Angola and in a vehicle not on foot! The landscape was varied and interesting, but the heat was relentless and so dry. All I could think about was ice-cold water!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. carolinehelbig October 15, 2021 / 4:20 pm

    An extreme version of Eat, Pray, Love??? I love the dessert, but this type of journey…not a chance. Nice review of the book.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Life...One Big Adventure October 16, 2021 / 10:47 am

      Many thanks for the nice feedback. You will have gathered this sort of adventure is not on my agenda either! It’s more like hardwork than fun. Have a good day. Mel

      Liked by 1 person

  6. restlessjo October 25, 2021 / 6:01 pm

    It’s not an adventure I would think to embark on, but she has a happy smile. Hopefully her life will go more smoothly in future, but then what will she write about?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. pam@ichoosethis November 9, 2021 / 10:11 am

    Did you ever read “I married a Masai”? Well don’t! its the same kind of dumb choices and its horribly written. She sees a Masai man on a street corner in a town in Tanzania, she MUST have him. She marries him, he leaves to go hunt for months at a time while she is living in a hut getting severely ill from drinking the blood of some animal. Guess what?? It didn’t work out! She must have sold a million copies – it was all over the airports in Tanzania back in the day. I’ll stick to camping on the roof of my car. lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    • pam@ichoosethis November 9, 2021 / 10:14 am

      Actually, I just looked her up, looks like they are still married and they have a kid.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Life...One Big Adventure November 9, 2021 / 1:05 pm

      No haven’t read that one and thanks for the heads up! I will avoid it like the plague. Maybe this is the old fashioned equivalent to social media 30 seconds of fame? Certainly sounds like she is a glutton for punishment.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Monkey's Tale December 7, 2021 / 8:50 am

    I like your honest review Mel, it reminded me of the book Tracks about a women who walked across the Australian outback with 3 or 4 camels.. The further I read the more I disliked the author/walker and the less I understood why she was doing it and what she hoped to achieve. I’ll give this one a miss I think 🙂 Maggie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Life...One Big Adventure December 7, 2021 / 10:56 am

      Well, you had better give Robyn Davidson’s second book a miss too. In her second book she is trying to walk across India with camels and it is a litany of disaster and completely self-absorbed. You’ve got to wonder about some people.


    • Life...One Big Adventure January 17, 2022 / 6:56 am

      It must be hard to repeat the success of first novel, but to me, it needs to be an enjoyable read first and foremost. This one certainly didn’t bring me much joy! 😉 Thanks for reading along.


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