Into wonderland Sahara: back to basics, freedom & nature!

Discret, généreux et toujours souriant, Koen Kestens a découvert il y a peu la magnificence et la variation des couleurs du désert et de son milieu sauvage. Ce néerlandophone belge de 42 ans est un amoureux de randonnées, d'activités en plein air et de nature. 

Il nous livre et partage en images et au travers d'une interview exclusive pour Ice and Green sa passion pour les impressionnantes étendues désertiques!  


Discreet, generous and always smiling, Koen Kestens recently discovered the magnificence and the variety of colours in the desert as well as its wildlife. This Belgian of 42 years old is a lover of nature, hiking & outdoor activities.

He shares with Ice and Green his passion for the breathtaking desert landscapes through an exclusive interview and pictures! 

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The colors of the sand is so beautiful and peaceful!

- You are a great lover of the Sahara and its desert. Why and when did this passion of yours started?


Since years, I was looking out to visit the great Africa, with their amazing animals and perfect panorama views. Out of Africa, was also the movie that inspired me to come to visit this continent.

A few years ago, finaly I had the chance to go to North Africa. My first steps into the dessert wasn't easy, because I choose the great South of Algeria. For many people it was hard to believe I picked that country knowing the threats of terrorism. I was lucky to visit Algeria, beacause nowdays, it’s rather impossible to visit that beautiful country without any risks.

But the people – the views & lanscapes – the dessert life and way of living are moments of great outdoors. Be one with nature and feel what nature does with you! So, stunning!  

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Palm trees and camels are living creatures in the desert, but not the only ones !


- So, your objective at the heart of the desert is to do some sports hiking, discover the unknown & the infinity and meet locals nomads ? 


To become one with nature, you have to feel it and hiking is one of the possibilities to discover a lot of the unknown. Meeting locals and share a moment of their daily life is a great way to understand our own western way of living.

To discover the day, not by the minutes of our clock, but with nature's time is so perfect. Standing up with the sun and follow its rythm and colors is a fantastic feeling.  


Touaregs taking life as it comes...not like us, always on the go!



- How tough is it to adapt with the heat, the lack of water & food, the desert winds and the nights which I presume can be quite fresh & chilly (depending on the season) ? 



The possibility to adapt or not, the answer is to be found in our own body ressources! How good can we adapt to daily situations? Can we think out of the box? Do we have to be clean all day long? Do we know our body? Our body can go more far then we think.

The desert is a clean space where one is invited to go back to the basics of life. We don’t have there the same needs that we think we should have to get along day by day...

For the climate conditions, with the right material, there’s often no reason not to go outdoors…  


Moon lanscape of the Algerian desert...



- I have seen beautiful/breathtaking landscapes pictures of yours, what are your 3 most memorable souvenirs out there in the middle of nowhere?


Every morning with the upcoming sun, every evening when the sun goes to sleep and every moment of big  and breathtaking landscape views are memorable moments. To hear the silence in the desert is a very special moment too.  


So endless, so perfect, so balanced…The way of living - "Out of Africa" …


- In fact, the desert is for you what the Arctic is for me a Kingdom where one can feel freedom, relaxation, respect and inspiration ?


I do believe each instants where one can be in the nature, go back to our roots and think, is a way to freedom and inspiration. The nature needs our respect and we will be respected by nature!

The only question is, do we allow ourself to go back to the basics and respect the way that nature is living?


 After long days of working in hard conditions, life ends on the plate…


- What type of material would one need to bring to do some hiking in the desert for several weeks ? This type of equipment can be found in the adventure shop Kariboe where you are working in Leuven ?


The good material that you can take with you are the product that are multifunctional and fits in the layering system. Without that you’ll take to much with you. Knowing the bounderies of the equipment is very important.

Don’t forget the insulation, because it can be very cold in the evening and night – so be a cameleon and adapt as good as possible to the chanching conditions.

All the materials, you can find with us and you will get advice at first hand. Don’t buy to much, but the right stuff!  

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 Koen Kestens at Kariboe's shop in Leuven...

Always happy to help & give the best advice for your outdoor summer & winter adventures! 

- In the Arctic one needs to be respectful towards the nature and its wildlife animals, what are the common sense rules to respect when you enter the Kingdom of Sand?


Respect the culture, the feelings around religion, nature is essential. The dessert is a clean environment with lots of wildlife. More then we can imagine. Leave no trace behind, only our footsteps may be the proove of our presents and even the wind will wipe them out after a few moments. 

Always remember that nature allow us to visit some places, but when it is time to leave, then go. Nature will be forever – we, not – so allow our children the possibility to visit nature… 


Shadow and sun on the dunes...  


- Any particular message you would like to address to all Ice and Green visitors ?  


Allow yourself to go back to the basics and disconnect from all modern things to understand how we exist. Allow yourself to think out of the box. Respect nature in all its forms, live with nature and not against it.

We only live once, but our world well be there forever. Respect it, but go outdoors and learn from nature… 


 Mountain of sand dunes...breathtaking!


 After a day of rain, the desert turns into a river... 


Vous voulez en savoir plus sur son expérience au coeur du désert, rendez-lui une petit visite chez Kariboe à Leuven en Belgique...Occasion aussi d'apprécier tout le matériel nécessaire à vos randonnées nature ou autres activités de plein air.

If you wish to know more about his experience at the heart of the desert, go for a small visit to Kariboe in the Belgian city of Leuven...opportunity to check the outdoor & hiking material you may need for your activities. 

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