To all the campers and non-campers out there - this is an experience you should add to the bucket list. I'm not an avid camper myself, so when I signed up to spend the night under the stars of the Sahara it was a step outside of my comfort zone.
Our small group set off in Land Rovers from Marrakesh in southeast Morocco through rocky desert terrain. After a long, bumpy ride (I love off-roading!) in what felt like the middle of nowhere we came upon a caravan of camels. We were instructed that they would be our transportation to the massive sand dunes in the distance.
I imagined a day in the world's largest desert as I would a hot day on the beach. Wearing a tank top, sipping cold water, and enjoying the scenery around me. I quickly learned I was in for a surprise.
Shortly before we were about to ride our camels the wind picked up and a small desert storm rolled in. Sand swirled from all directions and we were encouraged to step inside a hut to pick out head scarves. I could see now why the local guides wore head and body coverings to protect from the harsh sand and hot sun. While the wind howled outside, we waited it out by learning to play African drums.
A couple of hours later the wind subsided and the adventure continued. I hopped aboard my furry, friendly camel and started the 1.5 hour ride into the Sahara. The sheer volume of sand all around was mesmerizing, especially when the sun shined down and the landscape changed colors. I was also surprised it wasn't scorching hot despite the surroundings. In a long sleeve and head scarf, it was quite comfortable.
When we arrived at our camp, there were several tents set up with blankets, pillows, benches and delicious mint tea. The sun began to set so we climbed up the massive sand dune to watch from the top. Let me tell you, climbing up sand is not as easy as it looks. It's like running on a dry beach, with max incline!
From the top of a sand dune is when sheer awe set in. The utter silence of the desert. Not one animal, plant or far-off sound for that matter. Just a magnitude of sand as far as the eye can see. From this place, the outside world seems non-existent. And when the sun set, the sky filled with stars. Stars in the midst of nothing else - in this moment all I could think was that simplicity really is bliss.
If camping in the Sahara is on your travel list, here are a few recommendations to get the most of your experience.
5 Travel Tips for Camping in the Sahara
- Book your trip with a trusted guide - this isn't a place you want to be lost!
- Bring a clear case or plastic bag to protect your camera and allow you to take photos.
- Make sure you have enough water to stay hydrated. You obviously won't find any here!
- Head scarf - if the sand swirls up, you'll want this to keep your head and skin protected.
- Warm clothes - The desert is hot by day and cold by night so pack socks, a sweater and blankets.
It's not a quick ride into the Sahara but the beauty and incredible solitude definitely make it worth the trip!