The Sahara Desert. What do you think when you hear those words? Heat, emptiness, perhaps a flock of camels?
Whatever it is, I bet you don’t think king sized beds, luxury accomodation and lots of new friends!
We arrived to Morocco and quickly ‘Googled’ the best way to see the desert. Do we drive? Train? Hail a donkey? (It’s a serious suggestion, donkeys are still used everywhere – even in big cities!). Thankfully, tours were on top of the list and we couldn’t help but notice all the rave reviews on TripAdvisor about Morocco Best Sahara Tours. I contacted them and was surprised by the quick response. The unique thing about this company is it is completely customisable, with private tours in modern SUV’s suited to the desert roads and your own private guide.
Whether you want to trek the Atlas mountains, head up north to the blue city of Chefchaouen or simply see the magic of Sahara – it’s up to you! Youssoufi, Customer Service Manager, was extremely prompt helping us plan our perfect trip and after a brief email exchange we had a plan. The rest is history!
Atlas Mountains and UNESCO sites – Day 1
On Friday morning we met our driver, Yassin, who picked us up from our Marrakech Riad at 9am. Yassin was extremely friendly, trusting and knowledgable. Throughout the trip he taught us about the Moroccan culture, their amazing cuisine and fascinating history. We had the luxury of requesting lunch and break stops wherever we liked and Yassin was also a fantastic photographer who captured some great shots of us amongst the magnificent scenery along the way.
From Marrakech we headed through the second highest point in the Atlas Mountains, the Tichka Pass. We hiked the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ait Benhaddou. Walked with locals through the Rose Valley and along the river of Dades Gorge. While this tour is customisable, if you’re not sure what to see in Morocco, the tour guides will suggest many must-see places and add them to your itinerary. Saving you the stress of planning!
With a full day of sightseeing behind us, we arrived at the stunning Dades Gorge and our hotel Kasbah Agoulzi. This hotel is situated in the middle of the vast wilderness, overlooking a river and many farms which the locals privately use. Our guide was even kind enough to take us for a tour of the landscape and teach us about the way Moroccans live, what they eat and how they grow the vegetation! At the hotel, we had an incredible dinner of beef tagine and Moroccan salad – one of the best meals of our entire trip!
Sahara Desert – Day 2
The day we’ve been waiting for! We depart Dades Gorge after a leisurely breakfast overlooking the Morrocan landscape and travel to another spectacular gorge, Todra, the highest oasis in Morocco. The gorge is cut into the ochre-colored cliffs of the High Atlas with walls over 300 metres high and some just 20 metres apart.
Following a delicious lunch of tagine and mint tea, we travel to Merzouga, the doorway to the desert. Here we met our camels Leena and Javi who carried us along the sandy dunes of the Sahara Desert to our campsite.
This camel trek was unbelievable. The dunes, which seemed to go on forever, were coloured a deep fiery red from the setting sun. Our camel guide was young Mohhamed, who took a break from school over the summer holidays to help his family with this business. Tourism is extremely important for Morocco and locals are always thrilled to welcome people from all over the world to experience their beautiful country. One important thing to remember is to tip and maybe even purchase many wonderful souvenirs along the way.
As the sun started to set over the landscape, after about 1 hour, we reached our desert camp and home for the night: Sahara Sky Luxury Camp. This was glamping to the fullest with a spacious ‘tent’ kitted out with a king size bed, a bathroom with a toilet and shower and even a restaurant on site. The campsite was made up of 6 similar tents, a dining room tent with two large tables and gorgeous Moroccan style decor along with a common area in between where you can enjoy a cup of tea while feeling the sand between your toes. After dinner, we enjoyed a campfire with the locals and ours neighbours. Around the campfire, we learnt how to play their traditional instruments like the darabouka and taarija under the magnificent Sahara night sky.
This evening is something we will treasure forever and I can’t recommend this experience enough!
Sahara Desert Day 3
After a few painful seconds of fear of an alien invasion, we realised we woke up to the sounds of camel grunts. Not a noise you’d like to hear at sunrise, but thankfully Leena and Javi were simply reminding us to get up to see the magic of a Sahara sun rise. Being the only people awake this early, we experience the immense calmness of Sahara. Walking out and away from the campsite, with only sand dunes and camels in sight, we took in the tranquility, vast emptyness and beauty of the largest desert in the world. Unfortunately, the clouds covered much of the sunrise but we didn’t mind.
We ate a delicious breakfast in the restaurant adjacent to our tent and jumped back on our camels to try our luck at sand boarding! After three painful and desperate falls down the booming sand dunes I retired from sand boarding. Lucky for me, Javi was there to give me a lift back to Merzouga in the balmy 46 degree heat. I have never been so sweaty in my entire life!
The drive back to Marrakech was filled with more gorgeous scenery, photo stops, an incredible lunch and lots of great chats to Yassin who made our tour unforgettable.
Our honeymoon Sahara trip was an incredibly special experience filled with magic, unexpected surprises and lasting memories.
For anyone who is thinking about travelling to the Sahara Desert or even Morocco, I can’t recommend Morocco Best Sahara Tours enough! These tours are completely customisable and you can have a private driver and tour guide anywhere from a day to a week and beyond. They are extremely professional, trustworthy and will show you a side of Moroccan culture you won’t get anywhere else.
This will not be my last time in Morocco as I feel I only got a taste of this rich culture and stunning country. I can’t wait to be back soon and meet up with all my fantastic friends from Morocco Best Sahara Tours.
Thank you Yassin and Youssoufi for your generosity!
* Please note that all opinions are my own. This post was created in collaboration with Morocco Best Sahara Tours whom I approached after conducting own research.