Camp in the Sahara Desert

Camp in the Sahara Desert

Camp in the Sahara Desert

One of the most awaited moments of the trip to Morocco was camping in the Sahara Desert, the third largest desert on Earth after Antarctica and the Arctic (which are also considered deserts). Its area is larger than the entire territory of Brazil, can you imagine that? It’s 9 million square kilometers in size. It’s also the hottest desert on the planet!

How to get to the Sahara Desert

Merzouga and Zagora are the two most popular gateways to the desert. The difference is that Merzouga, although further away, has more impressive dunes, which reach 150 meters in height!

We chose Merzouga for our itinerary, of course. We traveled all over Morocco, from the north to the south of the country, on a private tour in a 4×4 car with the agency “Sahara Morocco Tours“. From Fez to Merzouga was 450 km of long hours on the road, but it was well worth it for the beautiful landscapes we enjoyed along the way. We crossed valleys, mountains and even a cedar forest where we played with little monkeys.

But if you don’t want to drive all over the country, you can book a direct desert tour in Marrakech or Fez. Another option is to arrive by air, as there is a small airport near Merzouga that receives flights from Europe.

When to go to the Sahara Desert

The best times are early spring and fall. Avoid summer, not only because it’s too hot, but also because there’s a greater chance of sandstorms. Even in high summer (between July and August) camping in the Sahara Desert doesn’t work. In winter, the days are more pleasant, but be prepared to face the cold at night.

It’s worth remembering that you need to have an adventurous spirit to experience this. Sandstorms can happen during the night at any time, but they occur mainly in summer. Look for a good structure with tents that are well secured to the ground. In summer, be prepared for more insects such as spiders and scorpions.

Two days in the Sahara Desert

We spent two nights in the Sahara Desert. The first we stayed in a hotel literally “on the sand”, facing the dunes called Kanz Erremal. It’s superbly located, has a swimming pool and excellent facilities. They serve dinner there and also offer tours (but we had already booked everything with our agency).

The second night was spent camping in the Sahara Desert. Right in the middle of the two! With dinner prepared right there in the camp and a round of tribal music around the campfire under the starry sky.
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During the day, before going to camp in the Sahara Desert, we went on a mini 4×4 rally through the Erg Chebbi dunes and visited a nomadic family. We also visited the village of “Khamlia” where the black Berbers from Sudan play their Gnawa music. These are tribal sounds emanating from drums and castanets. Take a look at this incredible moment in my Instagram stories, I’ve saved it in “highlights”.

Camel ride

At the end of the afternoon, we met the dromedaries, which are the traditional way to get to the camp in the middle of the dunes of the Sahara desert. I was worried about the animals, whether they were well cared for and not tired. But the nomads explained that dromedaries have been used for thousands of years and are superbly adapted to life in the desert. But if you prefer, you can get to (or back from) the camp in a 4×4.

The Berbers, who are the native peoples of North Africa, prepare the animals, help us up and guide us along the sandy paths to the camp. If the weather is good, you can watch the sunset from the middle of the road. Even after the sun goes down, there’s still another 40 minutes of light before it gets completely dark. The journey on the camels takes around an hour.

How it feels to camp in the Sahara Desert

The structure, facilities and luxury of the tents depend on your choice and budget. There are tours to suit all styles and budgets. We stayed at the “Milk Way Luxury Camp Merzouga” with the dromedary ride, dinner and breakfast included in the package.

As the desert is very hot, the program there is to arrive in the late afternoon and leave in the morning. Our camp (considered “luxury”) had 12 white canvas tents, divided into 2 sets of 6, with carved brass lanterns and Berber rugs spread out on the floor.

There was also a central area with a bonfire, torches and embroidered cushions where the Berbers played traditional music in the evenings. There was also a dining tent where dinner and breakfast were served.

Our tent had two king-size beds, armchairs with tables and a dressing table. The bathroom had a blindex shower and hot water! There are tables and chairs in front of the tents.

What to do at the camp

For dinner we had soup as an appetizer, chicken tagine as the main course and fruit for dessert. Read my article here to learn more about Moroccan cuisine. After dinner, we had time to watch the sky by the fire and listen to traditional Berber songs.

The next day we got up early to welcome the sunrise. Early, preferably half an hour before sunrise, when the sky turns pink. A true spectacle in the Sahara sky.
After sunrise, we had a hearty breakfast consisting of bread, jam, eggs, yogurt, fruit juice, tea, coffee and fruit.

Then we packed up and returned to Merzouga (Dromaderas), where we met our driver Said and drove through the High Atlas Mountains to Marrakech.
It was an unforgettable experience!

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