Glamping In The Sahara Desert, Morocco
On the very eastern edge of Morocco, almost to the border of Algeria, majestic sand dunes rising from the surrounding desert welcomed us to the start of the Sahara. Here, nestled among the dunes, we found an experience of a lifetime staying in a luxury desert camp, enjoying the Berber culture, unique desert activities, and absolutely stunning natural beauty.
This was the part of our trip to Morocco that I was most excited for, and boy, the Sahara really delivered.
Getting to The Sahara
We drove from Marrakech to Merzouga, the town on the edge of the dunes; the drive itself was an adventure – traversing mountains, seeing kasbahs, and exploring canyons. But as we left the Atlas Mountains, the scenery became more and more barren. Soon we passed a few “camel crossing” signs on the road, which only helped to increase our excitement!
Finally, off in the distance – DUNES! The size and scale of the dunes were deceiving at first, but soon they dominated the horizon and we excitedly entered Merzouga and met up with our guides.
We did our desert stay with Desert Heart Luxury Camp and met at a hotel in town. We had the option to ride camels to camp (about 1.5 hours on a camel) or to go in by Jeep (20 minutes in the vehicle). Well, the plan had been to take the camels in, but we arrived a little late and missed the window for that (cue major sad face!). All was not lost though, as they offered a sunrise camel trek as well. We gladly signed on for that! So, we rode into camp in a 4×4, which was truly a RIDE as we flew up and down and over the sand dunes!
Glamping in the Sahara Desert
The camp itself was delightful – two rows of white tents, with a carpet and plant-lined walkway down the center! There were little tables set in the sand all around the camp, where we were welcomed and offered a refreshing mint tea while we relaxed before being shown to our tents.
And WOW these tents really define glamping. Each tent had a real bed, carpets on the floor, a full bathroom (flush toilets, running water, a shower with hot water), plus really strong wifi.
Dinner was a phenomenal 4-course affair – salad, soup, tagine, and dessert – and was delicious. After lingering over dinner, we went out to the dunes to look at the stars.
And what stars they were! Oh, they were incredible! The sky was absolutely filled with stars, and the Milky Way was clearly visible, that wondrous tableau spreading across the sky. We laid out on the sand of the Sahara and just soaked it in. So beautiful, and honestly, humbling. Being able to see the stars like that is just good for the soul.
In the morning, we woke up before dawn and quickly got ready – it was time to meet our camels! As we dressed, we heard a unique snort just outside our tent! We came outside about 45 minutes before sunrise and tied on our turbans (because you just have to wear a turban when you’re riding camels in the Sahara). And I must say, the novel experiences started right away as mounting a camel is quite the ride in its own right.
We rode our camels into the dunes, to a particularly tall ridge – the perfect place to watch the sunrise. As the sun rose over the mountains that divide Algeria from Morocco, we enjoyed a beautiful and surreal sight.
We arrived back in camp to one of the most impressive breakfast spreads I may have ever seen, including my absolute favorite: Moroccan crepes (like regular crepes, but flakier and a little crispier). I could eat those crepes with the local honey every morning of my life!
Most people choose to just do one night in the Sahara, but when you drive a whole 9 hours to get out there, we just felt like we needed to stay longer than 18 hours in the desert! So, we stayed a second day and night in the Sahara.
After breakfast, we had a really chill day around camp. We took a nap in our tent (late night looking at stars + getting up early for camels = naptime), went ATVing on the dunes, relaxed, and chatted with the Berber men running the camp. The Berbers are the indigenous peoples of North Africa and have their own culture and language separate from Arabic. The traditional desert nomad lifestyle is one that many Berbers practiced, and some still do.
We also went into the dunes for sunset pictures – an incredible location to get some epic shots.
That evening, the guys made a campfire and played Berber music around the fire – music heavy in drums and rhythmic beats. We all danced around the campfire as they played, everyone moving to the sounds of drums and bells.
That memory of music around the campfire, under the bright stars and surrounded by the sand of the Sahara, is one of the shiniest memories of my time in Morocco. It was an absolutely perfect moment to cap off such a fulfilling and surreal experience. I highly recommend adding Glamping in the Sahara to your Morocco Bucket List.
People coming to the Sahara usually come either from Fes or from Marrakech. Merzouga is about 9 hours from Marrakech and 7.5 hours from Fes. It’s fairly isolated in Morocco – which makes sense, seeing as it is in the middle of the desert.
You can absolutely drive yourself to Merzouga, which is what we did! Do note, though, that the roads wind and turned a lot as we went through the mountains. Many people book a tour or hire a driver, which is a good option too! We just preferred to go on our own schedule and timing and make the stops that we wanted on the drive out.
About the Author
Stephanie is based in Alabama, USA and runs the blog The Unknown Enthusiast. She’s an enthusiast for trying new and unknown things and loves a mix of family and couples travel. She adores a good city destination but also thinks there’s nothing like being in nature. Her blog focuses on budget travel, with the odd splurge more on interesting experiences. She can talk about credit cards and travel hacking all day any day!
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