So we ventured into the Sahara Desert and we couldn’t wait to share our 3-day trip with you all! Plus it deserves a post of its own anyway! An incredible experience that we highly recommend if you find yourself in Morocco.
A brand new land cruiser and our own driver arrived at 8am in Marrakech and we were off. First passing over the Atlas Mountains- the views and scenery are spectacular, I really don’t know how to describe the landscape here- it’s breathtaking and constantly changing. The top of the pass is called Tichka- at 2,260m above sea level, you can imagine the view is a sight to behold.
From here we continued onto Ait Ben Haddou. Our driver was incredible, knew the roads so well and stopped whenever we wanted to get photographs and even stopped at places he knew would be a perfect picture! Ait Ben Haddou is a Unesco World Heritage site and so picturesque! It’s really neat wandering through the Kasbah and a perfect way to stretch out, have lunch and break up the journey.
The Draa valley seems surreal, date palms as far as the eye can see. You MUST stop and buy some dates, the gooiest, creamiest, delicious, most mouth-watering dates you will ever taste, mmmmmmm!!! Doesn’t this picture look fake? Kilometres and kilometres, hours and hours of driving through it! So neat!
While it’s only 356km between Marrakech and Zagora, due to the nature of the roads and including stopping through Ben Haddou for lunch it was roughly 10hrs until we arrived at out (luxury!) hotel. Dinner was included and really delicious, and the whole setting there is just gorgeous. Such a cool place.
Our driver picked us up again at 10am and we set off for M’Hamid. A tiny town and also the final town before heading off road into the Sahara. We stopped through here and had some mint tea while the driver picked up a few supplies for the camp. About 5mins drive later the road literally just ends and the desert awaits.
1.5hrs of 4 wheel driving to get to our camp in Erg Chegaga. On the way we saw a nomadic family (mother and daughters + a butt load of donkeys) at the well filling up heapssssss of bottles of water. So neat. Arriving into the camp was amazing, the sand dunes pop up and again it seems surreal!
We were greeted with smiles and mint tea, shown to our room/tent, so spacious! A queen bed and 2 singles. Nice to leave the shoes in the landcruiser and feel the earth/sand beneath the feet-very soothing and I hate wearing shoes at the best of times! The feeling of peacefulness that washes over you is incredible, coming from the hustle and bustle of the city and just sitting in the sand with no noise from anywhere is so refreshing for the soul.
We had again a delicious lunch (the food out here is awesome, I really don’t know how they manage to cook such amazing meals out there!) then took off on our camel ride across the dunes. There were 4 camels and 3 of us went for a trek, the 4th camel who was left behind decided he wanted to come for a walk too and followed us the whole way about 20m behind us, stopping to eat occasionally then running to catch up. He also knew the short cut home as we went around another dune and there he was waiting for us hahah! Cheeky bugger.
Wandered off into the dunes, the view is spectacular! Climbed the highest peak we could find (a struggle with the sprained toe!) then headed back to camp and grabbed a sandboard (I was not trying my luck here, did not want to break a bone or fill my stitches with sand so I just filmed :P) . Plenty of dunes to choose from, pretty wicked.
It was quite cloudy and we were pretty disheartened at the idea of seeing no stars :’( but it made for the most spectacular sunset, the whole sky lit up, the mountains surrounding us bright pinks and reds. So so so cool.
We stayed up after dinner watching the stars through the patchy sky, still so amazing. The camp even has showers and toilets, which was a pleasant surprise! They normally light the camp fire and play the drums but the other people in the camp all went to bed straight after dinner?! We decided to head to bed to wake up in the middle of the night crossing everything that the stars would have come out by then! At about 2am we ventured out (it gets cold in the desert!!) with blankets and pillows, you can sleep outside if you wish- they bring the mattresses out for you, we definitely would have if it was a clear night and I doubt I would’ve slept! We stayed awake for the next hour or 2, I lose track of time when staring into space, and saw soooo many shooting stars. There is something so special about laying under the stars and just staring into space 🙂
Up again for the sunrise, the sand was FREEZING but it was a nice to be up for that, packed up the car and after breakfast we were off again. We were tossing up whether to spend another night to try and catch a completely clear sky but decided to head back to Marrakech. We continued on, 4 wheel driving for roughly 2hrs, driving across Lake Iriki (a salt flat) and passing SO many camels, which we thought were wild but apparently are all owned by nomads. Of course I had to stop drop and (wonky) handstand!
From here we hit road again and the windy, mountainy, epic journey back to Marrakech began. We haven’t had the best of luck in Morocco in terms of injuring ourselves and Dan stubbed his toe trying to race back to the car after taking a picture and lost the whole nail and a lot of skin 😐 a lovely bloody stump that didn’t stop bleeding for about 8hrs. Yikes!
Arrived back in Marrakech at around 5pm, shook the sand out of everything and chilled out! SO grateful to be welcomed into Anthony and Cathy’s home, thankyou SO much for taking care of us during our time in Marrakech, we really can’t thank you enough 🙂 And also, a big thanks to organising the desert trip for us, we would’ve been on one of the nasty bus loads of tourists heading out if it weren’t for you guys!
If you are interested in doing this tour, I highly recommend it if you are heading there! This is the company we went through Sahara Desert Tour. There are quite a lot of cheap tours out there, but it’s 150% worth spending that little extra and doing it properly. Well worth the money, having your own driver vs. being crammed on a bus was already worth it the moment we set off, there’s A LOT of driving! And it’s not even that much more expensive than the busload tours, which take you to a camp that can be driven straight too. Buyer beware!