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Camping in the Sahara Desert

by | Africa, Destinations | 13 comments

Camping in the Sahara Desert was the absolute highlight of our trip to Morocco.

What is it like to camp in the Sahara? I can only say that it was a fabulous experience and I would not have missed it for the world. Imagine, a moonlit camel trek over the sand dunes to a Luxury Camp in the Sahara Desert!

Read on for more details about this adventure.

Camels silhouetted in fading light on Sahara camel trek

Travelling from Fez to Merzouga 

Merzouga is a small town at the edge of the Sahara Desert and this was the starting point for our trek into the desert. We spent the day travelling from Fez, a long drive of almost 500 km! The route is quite scenic in places as it passes through the Middle Atlas Mountains, picturesque valleys and Berber villages. However, there are also long stretches of desert, interesting initially, but not for long. If undertaking this trip on a bus as we did, I would strongly recommend having something to read! Having said that, it is a trip worth making.

Camel Trek through the Sahara Desert

We arrived in Merzouga in the late afternoon and our camels awaited us. Our luggage went in 4 x 4 vehicles and was delivered to the camp ahead of us.

Camels lying down waiting for riders for camel trek through the Sahara

We set off at a steady pace in single file, the camels tied together and led by a local guide. The landscape was stunning in the evening light as we traversed the dunes.

People riding camels through the Sahara desert

I took several photos as we went, but this meant letting go of the handle on the saddle and balancing, a precarious manoeuvre at the best of times. Nevertheless, I am pleased with the snaps as they give a real flavour of this memorable journey.

Shadows of camels on the Sahara dunes

We did not stop or dismount on the trek, which lasted the best part of two hours. I loved every minute of it, although towards the end it was a bit uncomfortable. I later discovered some chafing – but let’s not got there. Top tip: wear comfortable pants for this trek, preferably with padding!

Elongated shadows of camels on the sand dunes in the Sahara

The sun set behind us and for the last half hour we were trekking through the desert in the darkness, illuminated only by the light of the moon. It was quite otherworldly, a magical experience, but I think our whole group was relieved when we finally arrived at our desert camp.

Darkness falling over the Sahara

The moon over the Sahara desert and last rays of sun

Sahara Desert Camp

Our tour notes described our camp as a “Sahara Desert Luxury Camp” and this was an accurate description. This was indeed the most luxurious camp in which I have ever stayed. (We camped in Wadi Rum in Jordan earlier this year and I had thought that the camp there was luxurious, but it was not a patch on the one in the Sahara.) The campsite itself was beautiful with the tents set out around a central area with tables, loungers and twinkling lights. It looked lovely in the dark and was still really pretty in daylight.

View of central area of campsite in darkness with lights

Sahara Camp in daylight

Our Tent

Each tent had an en suite shower, a flushing toilet and a hand basin with running water. Wow! The beds were clean and comfortable. We even had electric lights and chargers for phones. I think the generator went off for a few hours over night, but we were unaware of this.

Camping in the Sahara desert: Inside the tent with the beds

Hand basin in tent for camping in the Sahara desert

Toilet in tent for camping in the Sahara desert

Camping in the Sahara tent: Shower

The Food

There was a large communal dining tent where the food was served. We enjoyed freshly cooked chicken tagine, bread, vegetables and fruit for dinner. Breakfast was eggs, bread and yoghurt, not very exciting, but more than acceptable.

Table set with tagine and food in tent in Sahara Desert camp

Music and Dancing

After dinner, the camp hosts gathered in the central area with a variety of local instruments, mainly but not exclusively different kinds of drums. The sound they made was very rhythmic and after a while we were invited to join in and have a go. Beth, being musical, accepted the invitation!

Sitting round the log burner with musicians at Sahara Desert camp

Sand surfing

In the morning, having watched the sunrise in the desert, a few of the younger ones in our group ventured out on to the dunes with the snowboards and blades to try sand surfing. I am a skier and would have tried the blades, but no one could get them to fit. The boards, however, were more successful and great fun.

Beth sand surfing in the Sahara Desert

Driving in a 4 x 4 through the desert

We were all a little sore after the previous day’s camel trek and were grateful, therefore, that our return journey was to be in 4 x 4 vehicles. The drivers were great fun. They turned up the music and raced out across the dunes, clearly enjoying the ride as much as the passengers.

Camping in the Sahara Desert: final thoughts

I would not have missed this adventure for the world. The whole Morocco trip was a memory-making experience, but the Sahara desert camp was wonderful. Arriving in the moonlight by camel, having trekked over the Sahara dunes, made it extra special.

Sunsrise in the Sahara

Sunrise in the Sahara Desert

 

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Our Morocco Tour

Our visit to Morocco was a sensory extravaganza. The sights, sounds and smells of the medinas were unforgettable. Marrakesh, Casablanca, Rabat, Fez, Volubilis, Ait Benhaddou…… We soaked up the history, the culture, the food and the colours of this fabulous country over several days.

We wandered through the souks in Fez and explored the wonderful Berber village of Ait Benhaddou, the setting for many Hollywood movies. Our trip included visits to palaces, mosques, museums, film studios and several artisan workshops (- carpets, metal artefacts, argon oil and even a UNESCO listed tannery!).

There were eight of us in the group for most of the tour. Beth and I flew into Marrakech and the others joined us the following day after we arrived in Casablanca. We travelled in a comfortable mini bus and our driver was very competent. The driver and a host stayed with us for the whole trip, but we had private guides in each of places we visited. Two more people joined us for the final tour of Marrakech. The trip ended in Marrakech.

The hotels we stayed in were all clean and comfortable. Most had spas and pools. As described above, the Sahara Desert luxury camp exceeded expectations.

Camping in the Sahara Desert and the camel trek were included.

We booked the tour with TourRadar: Imperial Cities and Sahara Discovery Tour from Marrakech

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13 Comments

  1. Sounds like a wonderful adventure! I would certainly be up for trying that sand surfing.

    Reply
  2. I don’t normally ‘do’ camping, being completely non-adventurous, but I love the idea of luxury camping in the desert. That would be truly special. Wonderful photos and an amazing journey, despite the discomfort you experienced! Will remember that tip about padded pants.

    Reply
  3. I can certainly understand why camping in the Sahara Desert was a highlight of your trip to Morocco. Our one camel experience was so short and unexciting. A 2 hour ride would certainly be far more interesting. Your glamping tents sure looked great. An experience we won’t miss if we head that way.

    Reply
    • Just don’t forget the padded pants! I loved it, but I was sore afterwards – and I wasn’t the only one!

      Reply
  4. I’ve camped in a few deserts, but it was usually very basic (in the Thar Desert we just slept out in the open, for instance). This looks like the complete opposite. I’d be up for some luxury camping in the desert – thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Yes, this camp was billed as a luxury camp, but even then, it exceeded expectations.

      Reply
  5. How did you like the camel ride? I am glad to have tried it once in the UAE, but it does not seem very comfortable for a longer journey than 10 minutes haha. Camping in the Sahara is definitely on my bucket list and something I’d like to do in Morocco.

    Reply
    • The camel ride was fabulous, but yes, uncomfortable after a while. I guess it takes practice!

      Reply
  6. This looks incredible! Riding a camel and sand surfing are high on my travel list.

    Reply
  7. Wow, the last time I did a sahara trek was 12 years ago and now I’m seeing the experience much improved! So incredible, the stay looked amazing and already getting excited planning my revisit to Morocco.

    Reply
  8. Wow a desert camp with phone chargers and a flushing loo! That is luxury. Having had a camel ride in the past I’m not sure I’m up to 2 hrs of it, but I’d love to see dusk and dawn and spend the night under the stars.

    Reply
  9. Camping in a desert is one of my favourite travel experiences. The landscape, camels, stargazing and the cultural experience, everything is so enchanting! Thanks for sharing this article, very helpful.

    Reply
    • Pleased you enjoyed it!

      Reply

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