A Night in the Sahara

The sand dunes of the Sahara Desert and the dromedary ride was what I most looked forward to in my Morocco trip. I booked a 3 day and 2 nights tour from Marrakech to Merzouga and spent one night in a desert camp surrounded by sand dunes.

Sand Dunes Erg Chebbi

Day 1

The tour started early in the morning and I was supposed to be picked up at 7:00 am in the hostel. Half an hour later they showed up and everything was very chaotic. I had to change the bus twice, we drove around to pick up others and had to wait for a long time. I ended up in a group of around 15 people from Spain, Portugal and China, who were all really cool. Then we finally left Marrakech and started driving towards the desert. My food poisoning still hasn’t gone away so I just tried to not eat anything.

Ait Ben Haddou

We stopped a few times on the way to take pictures and visited some beautiful sights. In the evening the group was separated and brought to different accommodations. We realised that we had all paid a different price for the tour and had therefore different accommodations. I was with the Spanish group of friends in a small hostel called “Hiking Nomads”. At the beginning we were joking about having gotten the worst hostel of all because we had paid the least. But then it turned out that we were the luckiest. The hostel was nice and clean and we were the only ones staying there. It was surrounded by a beautiful landscape. The owners were nice young Moroccan guys who showed us around and explained us a lot about their culture. For dinner we got the best tagine (traditional Moroccan dish) I have ever had – and I ate tagine almost everyday in Morocco. Later on we played cards with them until late at night at their rooftop terrace.

View from the rooftop of the Hiking Nomads hostel
View from the rooftop of the Hiking Nomads hostel

Day 2

The second day started not so well. We were ready to be picked up at 8:00 am but no-one showed up. We already thought they had forgotten about us. But then they finally showed up a bit after 9:00 am. We were told that there was an accident and another car crashed into our bus. Fortunately nobody got hurt but it took a while to sort everything out.

Moroccan woman carrying harvested sugar cane
We visited a small carpet company where we got tea and were explained how the carpets are made.

Then, after a very long drive we finally arrived to the sand dunes in Merzouga. From there on we couldn’t keep driving by bus.

A guide welcomed us and brought us to the dromedaries. They were all tied together and he walked in front guiding us in the right direction. The dromedary ride lasted for approximately one hour. I find it incredible that the guide walks this way crossing the sand dunes twice everyday.

We all had to buy a head scarf before to shield us from the sand. And I was more than glad to have it. The wind was really strong and the sand was blown into our faces. Without the scarf it would have hurt a lot.

It’s an incredible feeling to sit on the dromedary surrounded by nothing but sand dunes. When we arrived to the desert camp we got dinner (tagine of course) and then sat together to talk. We were all so tired though that we went to sleep straight away. Being a desert camp, there was no electricity, no toilets and no bathroom. All we had were some tents and mattresses. Since it was really warm we all decided to sleep outside. The sky was extremely beautiful and full of stars. Looking up to the infinite sky full of stars before falling asleep is a really magical feeling.

Day 3

At around 4:00 am it started to get windy and the sand hit our face so we went back to sleep in the tents. Not for long though, because at 5:00 am we had to get up and started to ride back so we wouldn’t miss the sunrise.

The sunrise was amazing. We rode back to where the bus had dropped us off the night before. Most of the others went back to Marrakech by bus but I took a shared taxi from Merzouga to Fez.

The desert tour was a unique experience and I’m glad I did it despite my food poisoning (which was finally gone after 7 days by the end of the desert tour). But it’s important to know that you will be in the car/bus a lot. The tour takes 3 whole days but you’ll spend only one night in the desert. So if you have very limited time in Morocco it might not be the best choice to make the most out of your time.

Recommendations

  1. Check several agencies before booking the tour to compare prices.
  2. The accommodation of the first night will depend on how much you pay for the whole tour.
  3. At the first stop in Ait Ben Haddou the people will tell you it’s the last chance to buy a scarf for the desert. That’s not true, later you will find some sellers along the road who sell them cheaper.
  4. Bring solar protection.
  5. If you want to save money bring your own food on the trip. You will stop for lunch at overpriced touristic restaurants.

Continue reading my post about Fets

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