If there was one excursion that I was really looking forward to during my time in Morocco, it was traveling out to the Sahara desert. I wasn’t even sure of exactly how I’d get there or what I’d do when I arrived. Just that I needed to experience it – see the dunes, touch the sand, and feel the desert heat.
There are a ton of different tours offered at various price points from Marrakech, but it proved difficult to find one that wasn’t overcrowded but also relatively inexpensive.
In the end I just couldn’t nail down a perfect fit, so I cobbled together my own plan, beginning with a cheap 12 hour bus ride from Marrakech to Merzouga (a small town at the edge of the desert).
Luckily November is the start of the low season in Morocco, so I was able to arrange an overnight at Hotel Mohayut’s private desert camp for only 35 Euros. Quite a steal considering this also includes meals (breakfast and dinner), a 1-hour camel ride to/from camp, and a private tent.
On the day of the overnight, my small 5 person group of travelers was introduced to our individual camels. Each was named after a different classic rocker, though my unbiased favorite just so happened to be the one assigned to me – Jimi Hendrix.
Jimi was an overall mellow camel who, from time to time let out some strange gurgling sounds. Overall he remained steady and surefooted once we got out onto the sandy Sahara dunes though, so that’s pretty close to his namesake I suppose.
Out in the desert, being surrounded by nothing but sand and sun, it was hard not to feel blown away by the natural artistry presented. This display increased exponentially as the sun began to set, casting a warm golden glow over everything.
After the sun disappeared behind the sandy horizon, our Berber group leader Bassou stood up and turned to me, flashing a wide toothy smile.
“Come on America, time to go. I hope you bring something warmer than those short pants and shirt. It is going to be a cold night.”
Of course, all I had packed for this leg of my journey was a pair of travel shorts and a long sleeved, moisture wicking, polyester top. Exactly what I didn’t need for a night in the Sahara.
I began to follow behind and jokingly volleyed back.
“Thanks Bassou. That sure would have been good information before leaving everything back at the hotel…”
Bassou laughed and said something to Jimi, causing the camel to crouch down so that I could climb on its back.
“Well…. now you know!”
More to come on my trip to the Sahara in the coming weeks. Until then, happy Friday everyone!