Sleeping under the stars in the Sahara Desert!

Once I had booked Morocco I looked into excursions and saw that you can camp in the Sahara Desert. I thought this would be a memorable opportunity for the boys and I to experience so I decided to do some research. We were in Morocco for 7 days and I came across tours for 2 days and 3 days. We wanted to do the 2 day tour to Fes but after doing more research I realised that Fes wasn’t near the Sahara and I needed to travel to Merzouga. I spoke to the boys about it as it is a long drive- 20 hours in total (with sufficient stops along the way of course) over 3 days and they wanted to experience it and was happy to do the journey.

3 days Marrakech desert tour to Merzouga

Our mini bus for the 3 day journey

We started our journey at 7.15am, our transfer picked us up from our hotel and drove us to the square where we switched mini bus and began our journey. We drove for about 2 hours before stopping at the first stop which was a breakfast and toilet stop. We didn’t get breakfast but brought water and snacks for the rest of the journey. The views along the way were stunning, the boys looked out the windows for animals.

First stop

We drove through the Atlas mountains with was breathtaking, we drove to the top and stopped for photos, you could see all the different paths of the roads and the cars driving.

Atlas Mountains

We continued driving and stopped at Kasbah at Ait Ben Haddon. Here we learnt that in this part of Marakech they don’t have electric and water for 3 months, this was a real eye opener and I explained to the boys how fortunate they are to have running water and electric at their finger tips. We walked through the village and watched a demonstration of a man creating these paintings of camels using sugar water and burning the opposite site, there was no burnt marks and the boys were in awe! They asked if we can do it at home- I don’t think so lol

Paintings the man demonstrated

We continued our journey to Ourrzazate, the buildings all looks similar. It is amazing that this country is only 3 hours away but the culture and lifestyle is so different. They still use donkey’s and camels as modes of transport. We hiked up in the heat, it was about 45-48 degrees drinking plently of water along the way. The views from the top were incredible. If you are not used to hiking up mountains it may be difficult because there are some uneven paths and it is very stoney. The boys were absolutely fine and I only held Micaiah’s hand at few parts were the steps were high however he was very happy marching ahead with his brother.

 

We stopped for lunch and I had Chicken Tagine. It is cooked under coal in a Tagine pot and very popular in North Africa. We stopped at this monument as an extra stop so not sure what it was called but we picked up some ice poles and continued our journey into Dades Valley where we slept at the guest house for the night. On this day we drove for about 7/8 hours.

Chicken Tagine

We arrived at the guest house and was shown to our en suit rooms for the night. We showered and got ready for dinner which was included (I will break down what was included in the price of the tour towards the end). The room was clean and comfortable I have to admit though I felt like a real back packer lol.

Room in the guest house

Our guest house

 

We started the next day with breakfast and began our journey at 8.30am. The first stop was The Todra Gorge, jaw dropping and stunning. Can you believe people do rock climbing here? We continued our journey to the berber village. I think this had to be my favourite stop along the way because we learnt so much and because they made it interactive for the boys they retained all the information.

The Todra Gorge

We had a guide who walked us through the village. We saw the women washing clothes in the river, we saw the vegetables they grew. We crossed over small streams of water, I really thought I was in  Jamaica walking along the gully bank. We went into the houses and saw how they weave the carpet from scratch. They take live wool from sheep, brush it out then roll it on a spindle. Once they have done that they dye it using natural colours i.e coal, henna. The women then weave it, each design is always different and comes from their imagination. The boys felt the textures of the rugs some are from camel, sheep and baby camels, the baby camels felt so soft.

Learning to make wool

Handmade weaved carpets

The river women washed clothes in

We went to the springs and saw where the water starts. Our guide was lovely and really made us feel comfortable and welcome. Honestly I was blown away at all the places we stopped at, the things we learnt and the all the things we saw. The total driving time today was about 6 hours. The tour was well worth the money and the stops were sufficient for the children. I will also add that the boys did not have any devices or entertainment on them for the whole journey and they were brilliant. We played games like I Spy and I went to the shop. We got a lot of complements from others at how well the children behaved. I mean I did separate them a few times for getting a little loud and excited BUT generally they were amazing!

Now the moment you have all been waiting for, the Sahara Desert!

Driving towards the desert was like a dream, I was like a big kid, I couldn’t believe the moment I had been waiting for was here. We stopped at the hotel where we left our bags. There was no showers in the desert, only toilets so we only needed to pack for what we needed for that night. They recommend bringing 2 bottles of water per person. You was able to buy iced water so that it would last the night.

 

We set out on our trek at 6.30pm just in time for the sunset. Ahaziah rode his own camel and was very comfortable and confident doing this. Micaiah and I was on a camel together. Our camels were all attached and we traverse the Dunes of Erg Chebbi. It was surreal, the whole time I was on the camel I kept saying is this real? Is this happening? Is this a dream? It was mind blowing, seeing the camel shadows on the golden sand, seeing the sun setting behind the dunes. It was magical but it didn’t stop there. After about 1 hour of camel trekking we got off to sit and watch the sunset. The boys loved running up and down the dunes this is a moment they will never forget. The total camel trekking time was about 1.5 hours.

Our guide got some postcode pictures of the group, he played music from a speaker and we all had fun. We got back on the camels and trekked to the berber desert camp. When we got there it was dark, we was shown to our tents and sat on mattress and rugs. I sat on the floor and the boys sat on stools and we had dinner under the stars. A traditional meal is a salad starter, chicken and vegetable tagine followed by melon. The families also made some spaghetti bolongne for the children which I felt was a really nice touch because I didn’t feel they had to.

Inside our tent

Getting ready for dinner

After dinner we were entertained by the berber families with drumming and music, it was a nice vibe, everyone was dancing and enjoying themselves. They brought the drums round to different groups and the children got to have a turn. I will never forget, the moment I took Ahaziah to the toilet he looked up and said “Oh my look Mummy” he pointed up at the stars and I was speechless. The beauty of it will stay in our memories forever. Our guide took us out onto a dune to gaze at the stars. I cannot find a word to describe how it looked our how I felt but would definitely recommend the experience, it was hands down the best thing I have ever done. We gazed at the stars for about 1 hour and spoke to some others who was also on the tour, I asked the children if they wanted to sleep outside and to my surprise they all said yes, they were so excited to sleep under the stars!

In the desert there are bugs of course and cats to eat the bugs, the cats are no problem to anyone and neither are the bugs to be honest. My friend went to our tent and said that she saw a cat in my tent, when I went to my tent before we went to see the stars I saw a bug in there and decided there and then that I wasn’t going to sleep in there lol. I was more than happy to get a blanket and sleep on one of the dunes. After the star gazing they gathered mattress for us to sleep outside in the camp. We wasn’t the only family doing this and I just thought I probably will never get the opportunity to do this again so why not go all in especially if the children are excited to. It wasn’t cold, we didn’t even change into our pyjamas we just slept in what we wore. In the middle of the night I woke up to cover us with blankets but even that it was too hot. There was a nice gentle breeze.

I heard clapping, I checked the time it was 5.15am I couldn’t believe it, we slept under the stars in the Sahara Desert!!!! Everyone was up getting ready to see the sunrise and trek back to the hotel. The boys were so happy to get back on the camels, they named them Alvin, Simon and Theodore. It was a little windy on the way back but bearable, we didn’t really need to scarfs but it went with the look lol.

5.30am sunrise trek

The sunrise was stunning! We stopped half way again and watched it. The ride was very long and I found it uncomfortable, not sure if the adrenaline and excitement I had before had worn off lol, I was very close to asking to get off and walking. Im not sure if I was uncomfortable because camel rides can be uncomfotable although I’ve never felt like this last time but I wasn’t on it for so long. Ahaziah and Micaiah said the rides was absolutely fine, they enjoyed it and was comfortable.

We got back to the hotel and had breakfast then set off for the long journey home. This was the longest drive approx 10 hours drive but we stopped every 2 hours for toilet and lunch. We slept the majority of this drive back as we were tired from all the excitement from the previous 2 days. We had to make our way back from the square, we took a taxi back to our hotel which was 200 Dirham.

This tour blew my expectations away. I was mainly excited for the Sahara but every stop was enjoyable and memorable. The tour was very affordable and we booked with Igomoroccotours

They have Whatapp so can answer questions you may have prior to booking. It cost €87 euro per adult and children were half price. You pay a deposit online then the balance when you get there either in Dirhams or Euros

The price included

  • Pick up from hotel in Marakesh
  • Air conditioned mini bus
  • Visits to Villages
  • 1 night in Dades Valley
  • Sunrise and sunset camel trek
  • Standard tent in desert
  • Breakfast and Dinner

What is not included

  • Tips for local guides (approx 200 Dirham or €2 upwards)
  • Lunch (approx 800 Dirham or €8 per meal)
  • Entrance to one of the villages

My only issue with this company was they tried to add an extra €10 to the price of another excursion we booked with them and demanded it on the mourning of our tour. Its a long story which is not really necessary to explain on here. My issue was not with the money it was with the lack of communication on their behalf. This being said I would not hesitate to book with this company again.

I hope you enjoyed this very long blog and I answered all your questions, until the next adventure……

 

Nahdz xxxxx

2 thoughts on “Sleeping under the stars in the Sahara Desert!”

  1. Excellent information! I’m headed to do the same next month, but with a different tour company. It’s so wonderful that you were able to bring your children to see such a different culture. One question: is it worth buying ice? Won’t it melt pretty fast?

    1. I think so but it did melt by the next day, we wasn’t able to finish all what we brought. We went during the sunset so it wasn’t hot to melt the iced water quickly. I hope you enjoy your holiday

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