The setting of the Essakane festival in the middle of the white sanddunes is perfect for a camel ride into the desert. So several times I saw people going in or coming out of the desert (picture 1) on a camelback.
I love camels and made camelrides on several occasions, even a three days trip in the white desert in Egypt and a camel race in Maralal in Kenya. So camel rides are my kind of stuff. I never had a camelride on the typical Tuareg saddle, so this could be my chance (picture 3, 4 & 5).
In Essakane I didn't make any camelride. First of all I was busy with many other things during the day. Second: the Tuareg men close to our camp who offered camelrides were unfriendly, almost aggressive (picture 2). Third: Cheche tours has warned us not to leave the camp or take a camel ride into the desert, because of threatening of kidnapping either by Tuareg rebels or Al Qaida. We had even to register in our camp at 10 am and 6 pm. In the festival area all turned out to be very relaxed and safe, so we skipped the registration.
In the afternoon from 5 pm till about 7 pm at a stage in the wonderful setting of the white sand dunes there were lots of performances of local and traditional groups (picture 1, 2 & 4). The singing was sometimes very mysterious, there were local dances and fighting scenes.
At both sides of the stage the audience could sit at the dunes for a good overview (picture 3). The Tuareg men mostly came on their camels and had a first class seat with the best view at the stage high from the camelbacks (picture 5). If you saw the back side of a row of camels, you could be sure there was a preformance going on.