Travelling to the SAHARA DESERT was truly a dream come true. It was one of those moments where you stop and think to yourself, “is this real? I’m actually here….okay, now take it all in.”
The SAHARA DESERT was the first place where I experience complete and utter silence. Everywhere else in nature you hear noises around you even though you may be silent; the trees whistling in the wind, the waves crashing on the shore, the birds chirping in the sky. Here, if no one spoke and it wasn’t windy, it was pure silence. It made time slow down.
If you book an all inclusive tour of MOROCCO, it most likely will include a one night stay in one of the many desert camps. Since we did MOROCCO on our own, we had to choose out of all of the many desert camps. We decided to book through MERZOUGA DESERT CAMP: AFFORDABLE LUXURY MOROCCO based on the many amazing reviews and affordability compared to the other more “ritzy” camps – heck, it even states it in there name. We were not disappointed. I recommend this camp 100%.
You choose whether you want to stay for one, two or three nights. We choose to stay for two nights and were extremely happy with that decision. It’s a long drive to and from the desert (approx. 8 hours there and 10 hours back depending on where your start and end location are)- there is no way of avoiding it, everyone does this drive if they want to see the desert. More on this down below on transportation. Our thought process was, if we are driving that far, we might as well enjoy the desert and not feel rushed.
When you book your overnight stay, it includes EVERYTHING – transportation, accommodation, food, camel trek & sand-boarding. The price may initially seem to be more than expected, however, when you break down the individual costs, it’s actually reasonable and makes sense. The only thing we payed extra for at the end were for drinks. The camp, like most other camps, do not serve alcohol. You are welcome to bring your own alcohol. We purchased ours at a random store on our way into the desert – ask your driver, he will know where to get some.
The camp itself is a dream. Pictures alone do not do it justice. Each couple had there own tent, with a king size bed and functioning bathroom – definitely roughing it lol. Moroccan rugs created walkways to each tent and lined the entire inside of your tent. There was a common dining area in a larger tent where we ate our meals and a common lounge area complied of Moroccan rugs + pillows.
The typical one night stay’s itinerary involves you driving to the camp (roughly 6 to 8 hours depending on where you are leaving from). Right when you get to the desert, you do a camel trek to your camp during sunset. You then sleep there, wake up to watch the sunrise and leave. How short is that??
I’m so thankful we choose to do two days. Instead of doing the camel trek into the camp, we got to do it the next day whenever we wanted to. We choose to do it right after breakfast, since it wasn’t as hot out and I love sunsets – I kind of just wanted to take that in on its own.
These gentle giants stole our hearts. They took us out for an hour long camel trek. It was jerky when the camel got up from a sitting position and went down into a sitting position. Other than that, it was pretty smooth and relaxing.
The camel behind me kept rubbing his head along my knee and trying to put his head on my lap. I asked the berber gentleman who accompanied us on our journey if this means they are showing affection. He said, “no, he’s trying to get the flies off of him” HAHA. To this day, I still disagree with that comment, I literally did not see a single fly during our trek, haha.
The camels we encountered or drove by seemed to be treated well which is very important to me. Each of them were roaming free, none were chained down to one spot. We saw a lot of elephants chained down to one little area in Thailand, which scared us a little. This is also why we didn’t visit any tigers in Thailand. We always try to support companies that treat there animals well. A more lengthly discussion can go into this topic, but I will leave it at that for now.
Our camel trek was to the highest dune in the area. The dune was so high that the camels could not climb it. The view was amazing.
The camp provides sand-boards and you can go whenever your heart desires. We headed out before and after lunch. We picked a large sand dune and just went for it. Don’t worry – it isn’t difficult by any means and you don’t go super fast. It was a ton of fun, we just laughed the entire time.
One of the staff members daughters hung our with Michelle and I the entire time. She was the sweetest, she showed us the best dune to go down on.
Ladies – if your man is asking you, “what are we going to do in the desert all day long??” You respond with : ATVING. Boys and there toys right? The ladies did not partake in this, not because we were scared but we got a lot of goodies on this trip and wanted our men to enjoy as well. This is an extra cost and not associated with the camp. Your driver (stays with you during your camp stay) drove the men to MERZOUGA (the town) and rented ATV’s. From there, they spent an hour riding throughout the SAHARA DESERT. The hubs loved it and would do it again. He obviously didn’t shoot any photos, but took lots of videos :P. The ladies stayed behind, relaxed, sand-boarded and snapped a few photos.
UGHH, I have a love/hate relationship with sunrises. They are absolutely breath taking and tranquil, BUT I’m not a morning person. Waking up at an ungodly hour…on vacation…the struggle is real but totally worth it. You will regret sleeping in.
Both mornings we woke up at 0545, walked to the highest dune and just watched the sunrise. For those of you wondering, the staff show you which one is the highest/best dune for sunrise and sunset – yes, there are different dunes for each. The sun rose at 0620 when we were there…and yes, we went back to bed for an hour after 😛
I am a lover of sunsets. The staff once again pointed us in the right direction to the best dune to watch the sunset. It took us a half an hour to walk there, so go early. Once we got there, I couldn’t help but take a few pictures – golden hour right? The sunset itself was stunning.
Out of all of our travels, the SAHARA DESERT was the least touristy. Unlike SANTORINI, THAILAND, HAWAII, ITALY, FRANCE, etc – all the major must see attractions are beautiful but often can be littered with tourists. During the first night it was just us, our two friends and the staff present in the camp. The next night another couple joined in. We did not encounter anyone else. No on obstructed our view at sunset or sunrise. It was peaceful.
We got to experience two wonderful nights under the SAHARA night sky. It began by eating a candle lit dinner outside under the stars in pitch darkness under the starts.
We then spent some time with the berber people around a fire and they sang there music to us and also taught us how to drum/ join in on there singing. We also danced around the fire while they were singing. I loved every minute of it.
Then we just laid there watching the starts probably until 2 am each night (now do you see why waking up was such a mission :P). It was my first time ever seeing the milky way. A berber man taught us the constellations he knew and explained that berber people tell time and seasons based on constellations. We saw the Milky Way, Cassiopeia, Seven Sisters, Saturn and countless shooting stars. It was magical.
The camp itself is magical at night. They light lanterns that mark the Moroccan rug pathway leading you to your tent.
The camp provides all of the delicious food. You start your day with a traditional Moroccan breakfast – bread, salty crepes, eggs, fruits, jams, butter, OJ, coffee + tea.
Tajines were served at dinner. Since we stayed two nights, they served the typical beef + prune tajine the first night. It was always accompanied by soup, couscous and vegetables. The second night they served the chicken and lemon tajine.
Fair warning, a member from our group did get the stomach flu the day after while driving back to MARRAKESH. We believe it was from the chicken. After talking to the locals, they say that this happens often with desert camps and chicken since it is so hot out and its hard to transport it properly. Anywho, I would stay clear from chicken while you are there. Most people only stay one night in the desert – this is why I think they provided the beef tajine the first night. I think they wanted to change things up for us and made the chicken the second night. Anywho, if I would have known, I would have requested the beef.
The camp provides transportation and they are flexible, they will pick you up and drop you off at the locations you need. We were picked up in FEZ, drove 8 hours to reach the camp, stayed two nights and then drove to MARRAKECH which took 10 hours. They had a few stops along the way to make it enjoyable.