Accomodation · Africa

Why the camel ride through the Sahara desert is worth the aching bum

As we were planning our Moroccan roadtrip, the Sahara desert was most definitely the excursion I was looking forward to the most. Not specifically because I was looking forward to spending a couple of hours on the back of a giant dromedary – yup dromedary, not camel -, but mostly just for the incredible views we would get. And boy did we get amazing views.

My expectations were sky high but it was still overwhelming and definitely the highlight of our journey.

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The minute we saw the first sand dunes of Erg Chebbi looming in the distance, we were out of control excited. We had been waiting for this day for so long and it was finally there. After another hour to driving towards those mountains of golden sand, we arrived in the town of Merzouga where our overnight trip into the desert would start.

In the area there are a lot of hotels and agencies offering camel trips into the desert, so you can still find and book a trip on arrival. Wanting to be certain, we had booked our trek in advance through booking.com. I’m still glad we went about it that way because we got to see pictures of the actual camp before departure and most importantly had reviews from other travelers. Sure you pay a bit more, but it’s still pretty cheap.

We booked our trek with Hotel Auberge Le Petit Prince. I had read about this hotel in fellow traveler’s blog post and they were very enthusiastic about their trip, so I decided to trust them and along with it being on booking.com, I felt like it was a very safe option. I wouldn’t want anything to go wrong on this trip!

Upon arrival at the hotel, we were immediately shown to our room where we would leave most of our luggage overnight. It was a very basic room, but considering we wouldn’t even be sleeping there, it was definitely more than we needed. We first relaxed a bit on their terrace with the customary welcome mint tea before my dad suddenly became determined to get the full experience and wanted to go into town to buy himself a headscarf for the trip. I went along with him just for the fun of it, but in the end it was also a great way to protect my head from the burning desert sun.

Back at the hotel, we made our overnight bags and then around 5pm we were told our dromedaries were ready for departure.  We were joined by another couple so it would be just the four of us on the way to the camp. And then off we went.

It took some time to get used to the movement of the animals, but soon I dared to let go of the death grip I had on the handle and really just enjoy the beautiful scenery. With the evening sun on the sand dunes, it was like magic.

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One hour and a half later, we arrived close to our overnight camp. Our dromedary were taken to the camp and we were told to climb to the top of one of the higher dunes to witness the sunset. Unfortunately there was an awful lot of wind which made it quite uncomfortable to wait. I also had to put my camera away as the sand would most definitely damage it. Even with it being in my bag I nearly had a heart attack when we arrived in the camp because some sand had still managed to get into my lens. DRAMA! But no harm done, fortunately!

Either way, the sunset was beautiful and it was definitely worth it to brave the strong nasty wind.

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In the camp we were joined by two other travelers and then our group was complete. By the time the sun had set, it was of course time for dinner. Or at least to go into the tent where we would have dinner. It still took quite a while before we actually got our dinner. But damn how good it was. The best chicken tajine I had all trip. I ate until I was almost sick and literally couldn’t take another bite anymore. For that tajine alone, I’d go back.

It was already quite late by the time dinner was over, but our hosts still tried to entertain us with some Berber music. It was all fun, but considering we had an early wake-up call the next morning for sunrise and it was already getting quite late, we didn’t stick around very long. Also, we’d already enjoyed one of those evenings in the Todga Gorges so there wasn’t anything new about it anymore.

When we came outside the dinner tent we were quite disappointed to notice that there weren’t many stars in the sky. By the stories of other travelers I was expecting to be overwhelmed by the amount of stars we would see. Sadly, it didn’t seem all that more than when we get on a clear day at home.

Luckily my father noticed that the moon was quite prominent in the sky, and that that could be the party-pooper to our sky full of stars. And indeed. We woke up around 5am and by then the moon was gone and the sky we were presented with was absolutely breathtaking. It was like magic. With my amateur camera there was no way I could snap a picture of it, so sadly I can’t show you what beauty we were presented with. You’ll just have to go see for yourself.

Not much longer, it was time to get ourselves ready for the sunset. Another spectacle with beautiful colors. I do recommend to wake up at least half an hour before the actual sunrise as then the sky is already coloring beautifully.

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Immediately after the sun had risen, we were told to gather our stuff and get ready for the camel ride back. And boy how uncomfortable that was. Our bums were aching from the outward voyage and we were quite tired from the short night. The first half an hour on the dromedary was still amazing and had me overwhelmed but after a while I was done with it. But we had to sit it out for another hour.

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Fortunately at the end of the dromedary trip, a delicious breakfast buffet was awaiting us. We also had the opportunity to freshen up in the shared bathrooms of the hotel. After a night in the desert, that wasn’t great luxury. Even now we still find Sahara sand in pockets of our clothes.

But aching bums and all, this trip was most definitely the highlight of my trip through Morocco. The beautiful Sahara landscapes, the amazing sunset and sunrise and that breathtaking sky full of stars. It may be a very touristy thing, but it’s definitely worth it. Memories to last a lifetime!

♥♥♥ 

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