CAMELS YES, WIFI NO
Visiting the Sahara desert in Morocco was a huge highlight of my trip! Being out there in the middle of nowhere surrounded by sand dunes as far as the eye can see is a mind-boggling experience. I definitely recommend taking the opportunity to ride through the dunes on a camel and spend a night under the stars in a traditional Berber camp.
WHAT I DID
It’s a long drive out to where the Sahara starts but there were some interesting stops along the way including a business that works with fossils and uses them in furniture and art. It was fascinating to visit their workshop and learn the steps in how they came up with these gorgeous finished products.
Watching the Sahara form out of nowhere as we got closer was a surreal experience, from watching it grow larger and larger in the skyline it suddenly felt like we were completely immersed in it. We met our Berber guides at the outskirts to the dunes and they introduced us to our camels and gave us a short lesson on riding them – basically the best way to hold on without falling off!
Riding out to our camp was amazing, the view was breathtaking and the feeling of being surrounded by only the dunes is something photos just cannot do justice. The way the sand moved in the wind was so simple and yet magical to watch. I felt sure that if my camel decided to run off into nowhere that I would be lost forever!
Our evening in the dunes was an unforgettable experience. We went sand-boarding down the huge dunes, and hiking back up them was great for my cardiovascular fitness! The sunset was beautiful and we spent the night eating delicious homemade food in our camp, listening to our guides perform traditional Berber music and laying out on locally made rugs admiring the gorgeous field of stars above us. Sleeping in the Berber tent was very peaceful with the company of the stray camp cat who persistently meowed at the door flap until she was allowed in and the gentle snorts and sighs of the camels corralled next to us.
No alarm clocks needed here! Our guides woke us up with friendly shouts in their local Berber language as they had braved the cold night air and slept under the stars next to the fire, to be woken by the bright sunrise at daybreak. The quality of the rugs here was amazing, the thickness of camel wool and the hardiness of cactus silk made the textiles wonderfully thick, warm and durable.
An early morning ride in the brisk desert air woke us right up after our late night under the stars and the jolting of my camels footsteps suddenly became a lot more uncomfortable as I realised I was quite saddle sore from our long ride the day before!
I went on this trip with my travelling buddy from the UK, Tom, and we booked it easily the day before we left at a local travel agency in Marrakech. There was only a few of us on the trip, from all over the world, which made it a great experience and lent itself to a myriad of interesting campfire travelling stories.
WHAT I ATE AND DRANK
Amazing Berber food handmade by our 2 guides on the camp fire. It consisted of chicken and vegetables cooked to perfection in the traditional Tagine accompanied by the usual olives, delicious thick crusty bread and ever present mint tea to cleanse the palate. The food disappeared far too quickly to take any photos of it, as we were all starving after our camel ride and trekking up and down the dunes.
WHAT TO PACK
Our guides only let us bring a small overnight pack as it had to be carried with us on our camel. I literally only bought my handbag to the camp with a change of underwear and a toothbrush!
There is no such thing as bathrooms, mirrors or showers out there and I spent most of the time with my scarf tied around my head Berber style to block out the sweltering sun of the day, keep the warmth in at night and repel the sand from blowing into my face.
I recommend wearing lightweight layers, long pants and a shirt to protect from the blistering sun and stinging sand spray and taking a warm jacket for the evening and brisk mornings. A scarf is a great idea for both girls and guys, your guide will teach you to tie it the traditional way which works perfectly to protect your head and face.
There is no electricity in the desert so don’t bring any gadgets, just enjoy the technology-free serenity!
PS. Are you thinking of going to the Sahara Desert? Have questions? Ask us in the comments section below.
Have you been to the Sahara Desert? We would love to hear your travel stories also!