My #1 main goal for my weekend trips in Morocco was to do a camel trek in the Sahara.
And why not? It is one of those true bucket list adventures and something I have always wanted to do. Little did we know that the logistics of planning a trek like that during Morocco’s hottest month can be daunting.
The Sahara desert starts all the way on the Eastern border of Morocco near a city called Merzouga. Merzouga is a 10 hour drive (from Marrakech) through the Atlas mountains and vast desert regions. Most tour companies opt to break that up over a 2 night, 3 day trek with stops along the way. We chose to do the 3 day adventure as that seemed to be the most manageable and comfortable.
We negotiated the trek and price the night we got into Marrakech as I wanted to at least start the trip on the weekend as I knew I had to take days off work as I was going to be completely out of wifi at times.
We were packed into a group tour bus with 16 other folks from Germany, Italy, Holland, Spain, Korea,France and Japan. We would all suffer together over the next 2 days as we endured 115 degree heat, subpar AC, bad Arabic pop music, minimal leg room, Hotels with no AC or power, and subpar Moroccan food.
They fail to tell you how uncomfortable these treks are, not to mention that your driver usually is bat-shit-crazy and drives like a demon child. More than a few times I thought we would kill another motorist or fall off the side of the cliffs. Baxter and I lucked out though as we were stuck up in the front seat, so we had the most leg room and best blast of the AC, though we had to suffer through some of the worst music ever.
Along the way we stopped:
- Dades Gorge
- Benhaddou (where scenes from Gladiator and GOT were filmed)
- Valley of the Roses (fun fact, no Roses!)
- Todra Gorge
- Berber Village
The trips were a nice break, but after a while you are just so hot you just want to keep on going. Our hotel the first night in the gorge was nothing to write home about. It had no AC so naturally I slept none, and then woke up to the power being out so that was nice bonus.
We got to Merzouga late the 2nd day and we proceeded to veer off from the group for our own private camel trek. This ended up being a good decision as we had our own 2 guides and they basically walked around and took pics for us, hence why we got some pretty epic shots.
We stopped at a small shop before entering the desert to get our “desert attire” and as you can see from the pics, we had some fun with it. Fun fact: next time I will opt for the not-as-pretty drop-crotch pants as mine ripped within 10 seconds of hopping on the camel (pics not available). Camel rides are not comfortable! Especially when you have a gaping hole in your crotch. Additionally, camels like to poop about every 8 minutes. I pretty much knew were I was going based on the poop trail in the desert.
Needless to say, the experience was once-in-a-lifetime! The Sahara dunes and desert were unbelievably pretty! They are significantly bigger in person and the sand is actually super fine and nice shade of orange/red. Climbing to the top of the tallest dunes was both one of the best workouts I have ever and one of the coolest experiences to watch a sunset from.
Though it was still uncomfortably warm to sleep at night, we did lay out under the stars and listened to our guides play some music on their drums. Besides the epic night skies we witnessed in Kenya last year, I have never seen so many bright stars (let alone a few shooting stars). Even if we were able to get some pics it would not have done it justice!
Would I do it again? Yes, in cooler months and in my own 4×4. That being said, I can check it off my bucket list and look back at this adventure as something pretty special!
Enjoy the pics and videos!