When making a list of once-in-a-lifetime experiences, camping (or rather “glamping”) in the Sahara desert should fall right at the top. Not only is the desert breathtakingly beautiful, but the stylish luxury tent accommodations and the friendly camp hosts make it all the more magical!
Imagine this scene: You’re staring up at the milky way while listening to traditional Berber music. Around the camp, you can see the faint outline of giant sand dunes, which go on for miles and miles. Your stomach is full from your delicious dinner of tagine, and you’re comfortably sitting cross-legged on a plush cushion perched on top of an intricately woven carpet. Nearby, a large, private canvas tent with a king-size bed awaits your arrival. A hot shower may be necessary after a long day of riding on camelback through the orange-tinted sand dunes. Yes, they have hot showers in the Sahara desert. They also have flush toilets, and …. you won’t believe this, an in-ground swimming pool. It’s outrageously amazing! The whole experience will have you feeling like Jazmine, Aladdin… or at least Abu the money!
Getting to the Sahara Desert
The best way to get to the Sahara Desert is to book a tour ahead of time through your hotel or hostel. This isn’t difficult – there are many tours options available that leave from either Fes or Marrakesh. You can wait until you arrive in either of these cities to make your final arrangements, or you can book through websites such as glampinghub.com. They will assign a driver to pick you up at your hotel on the first day of your reservation. You also have the option of renting a car and driving yourself.
If you’re interested in the exact camp I stayed in:
Learn more here / Book through Glampinghub.com
Be aware, the drive is long! From Marrakesh, it takes about 10 hours to get to Merzouga with a stop for lunch and a few sightseeing areas in the Atlas Mountains. Because of this, I suggest staying at least two nights at your desert camp. Once you arrive in Merzouga (a small village that acts as the home base of the Sahara Desert) you’ll need to switch to a 4X4 vehicle to cross the dunes. This part of the trip is a lot of fun! When crossing a few steep dunes at high speed, I actually whooped with exhilaration. The camp is only a few miles into the Sahara desert, but it feels completely isolated.
Arriving at the Camp
We arrived at our camp at sunset. Berber camp hosts, dressed all in blue, carried our suitcases over the perfectly manicured sand toward our private tent. I was in awe of the beautiful details of my tent. The interior featured a plush king-sized bed, layers of Berber carpets were laying over the ground, air conditioning was available for the warmer times of the day, and we had a rather large bathroom with a sink, flush toilet (I guess they dug a septic system), and a shower with hot water.
I’m staying in a luxury tent in the Sahara Desert?? How can this be?
The entire camp is off-grid. The lights and air conditioning units are powered by a solar array and the water in pumped in from the city of Merzouga and heated by a wood stove (which is meticulously stoked by the camp hosts). Meals are served in a large community tent. The food is prepared by the camp hosts over a fire, and it’s really good! For breakfast, we had a full buffet with eggs, toast, and fruit. For lunch and dinner, we enjoyed Moroccan salad and some sort of tagine. The only thing not provided was alcohol. You would need to bring your own to the camp, and booze can be difficult to find in Morocco.
The Sahara Desert Glamping Experience
After settling into the camp, we watched a gorgeous sunset over the crimson dunes. It was then time to gather for dinner, and after we gathered around an outdoor fire as our camp hosts played traditional music. This turned into a short dance-fest, where all of the guests circled around the fire, moving our bodies to the drum beat! We went to bed early, and I slept really well in my comfy bed. The next morning we prepared for a camel trek through the desert.
Riding Camels through the Sahara
The camels arrived, lead by their handler. He asked each camel to sit down low so that we could saddle up. Our camp hosts tied scarves around our heads in a traditional fashion, so that we would be protected from the sun. Also, because it’s fun to dress up! After everyone was ready, the camel handler led our caravan into the desert.
I’ve never ridden a camel before, and I was surprised how quickly my legs became fatigued! After an hour of riding, I was ready for a break. We dismounted and the camel handlers started a fire in the middle of the desert from some twigs and brush. They made tea for everyone in a gorgeous silver tea put, and we spent 20 minutes relaxing and snapping photos of the camels. It was pretty magical!
A Swimming Pool in the Sahara Desert?
We trekked back to camp, and by this time, my legs were ready to be back on the ground! We ate lunch and then walked over to the pool house, which was in another large tent. I’ll admit, I had low expectations. Who has ever heard of a swimming pool in the Sahara Desert? I couldn’t have been more wrong! The pool was serene. How did they build that on sand??
Nabil, my engineer boyfriend, thought that they probably found an area that wasn’t sand to pour the foundation, but the whole idea still perplexed him. Either way, it was an incredible sight.
The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing by the pool, or in hammocks around the camp, until it was time for dinner, sunset, and more music around the fire. This was one of the most relaxing days I’ve ever spent on vacation (aside from my leg fatigue from camelback riding). The next morning, our driver arrived to take us back to Marrakesh. One day was enough time to experience the desert camp, but if I could do it again, I would spend at least two days (three nights). This was, after all, one of my more favorite days in Morocco. For my Full One-Week Morrocco Itinerary, Click Here
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Disclosure: The content in this blog post was partially sponsored by Glampinghub.com, Scarabeo Camp & Desert Luxury Camp