Travel Guide Merzouga: glamping in the Sahara!

Last Updated on by Charlotte van de Sande

Camel riding and camping out in the desert of Morocco, how will that be? In this blog, I describe my experience of this incredible adventure in Erg Chabbi!

We enter Merzouga being a bit tense. It feels like we are in the decor of The Walking Dead, surrounded zombies. The city is worn down and seems deserted, except for some Moroccan guys. Every few meters they shout something to us, or even crazier, they jump in front of the car, knock on the window and shouts something aggressively to us in Arabic. We drive fast, don’t get out of the car. The thermometer indicates 43 degrees Celsius no clouds in the air and everything around us is dusty. Welcome to one of the last cities before the desert starts Well actually, this doesn’t feel welcome at all …

Fortunately, that feeling changes quickly. We drive to the post office, where we are meeting with Omar at 5 pm. Omar is our contact person with whom we booked a camel ride & overnight in the desert. He has already warned us, only to respond when we are approached by someone who knows my name. And indeed, at 17.00 sharp, an amazingly clean Volkswagen arrives (our car is unrecognizable because of all the sand of the past 5 hours), the window goes down, and we hear ‘Charlotte?’. Nice, it’s Omar and we are in good hands!

Omar takes us to hotel Nomad Palace, a ten minutes drive from the paved road. Here we park our car and we have all the time to change clothes, go on wifi (we haven’t had internet for 3 days) or to cool off in the pool. From the pool, we have an amazing view: a dozen camels standing quietly grazing and behind them large red mountains of sand: the Sahara. While we are relaxing for a while, we start talking to a couple from Brisbane. Together with their daughter, who has been studying at Oxford for six months, they also make a road trip through Morocco. Later it appears that we are in the same group, nice!

Merzouga desert track

When it is almost time to go, we change clothes. Despite the heat, we wear long, thin trousers (Ries has quickly bought a pair of white cotton trousers on the street), closed shoes and a scarf. Thick layers of sunscreen on my face and arms, because I don’t have a long-sleeved t-shirt with me (this does not appear to be necessary later on). To protect against the sun, Omar ties a Berber cloth on our heads according to traditional methods. When we walk to the camels, the animals look friendly at us from behind their long eyelashes. One of the Berber guides helps us to sit on some kind of blanket construction around their hump. A soft knock on the knee of the camel and WOOWHOOOH, in three steps the beast is up and suddenly I am 2 meters above the ground. The first steps feel awkward and wobbly, but soon it really nice when our procession of camels slowly enters the desert. Around us are only high sand dunes, and the long shadows. The sun is getting lower and lower and the heat is more than bearable. There is a nice breeze and also the frozen bottles of water help to cool down.

We drive an hour and a half through the desert. Sometimes encountering other camel riders, or we see a tent camp in a sand valley. We see the sun set, and stop for a moment to take pictures. Around dusk we arrive at our camp, 8 beautiful white tents are in a circle around a campfire. There are poufs and a path of carpets that goes to every tent. When I walk into our tent, my mouth falls open in surprise. It is sooo luxurious! There is a huge kingsized bed, a sitting area and a sink. Behind two awnings are our own shower (with hot water) and toilet. There is even electricity available, unbelievable, in the middle of the desert! This is the ultimate Glamping!

Together with the family from Australia, and a group of jolly Spaniards, we have dinner in the main tent. After this, the campfire is lighted and the Berbers start playing the drums and making music. We relate, and enjoy the end of this great evening.

The alarm goes the first time at 5 a.m. I’ll stay in bed, but Ries gets up to take pictures of the stars. There is hardly any light pollution here. The result is beautiful photos of the galaxy. An hour later, the alarm goes off for the second time, time to watch the sunrise. We dress quickly and walk outside. The soft sand is cool at our feet. Sleepy we walk into the dunes, up takes a lot of effort, not down, that is a matter of sliding. You sometimes sink knee-deep in the sand. It is starting to get a little light, and Ries is running ahead to take some pictures of a higher dune. Suddenly he starts gesturing wildly and shouting that I have to come. I put a sprint, to what extent that can be done in sand, and come out of breath above. And then I see it … a scarlet red ball rising above the dark sand dunes. The sun has never been so big and it is magical to see! There is no one around us, and we enjoy in silence. Slowly the sun rises and it quickly gets warmer.

Back in the camp, we have breakfast, and then climb up on the camel again. It is time to go back. We will be back at the hotel at 09.00. We step into the car, both with a big smile around our lips. Wow, what a beautiful experience this was!

Do you also want to spend the night in the desert?

Besides a camel ride, it is possible to drive through the dunes or go sandboarding by 4×4. We slept in the Erg Chebbi desert, this light near Merzouga, in the east of Morocco. A little more in the middle of Morocco is also the Erg Chegaga desert. It also seems to be beautiful, but the dunes are less high here and the last two hours towards the desert have to be covered per 4X4. From Marrakech to Merzouga is about 9 hours and from Ouarzazate 5 hours.

It is useful to wear long trousers, closed shoes, sunscreen, sunglasses and a scarve or a hat during the camel ride. Afraid of sore muscles? No worries, the camel ride takes both back and forth, only one and a half hours. You will probably feel your legs, but the we didn’t get muscle pain. We booked our camel ride at Omar (see the option below) and were very happy with it. There are many providers that are all about the same, except for the price.

Morocco merzouga desert cameltrip

Nice accommodation options in around the Erg Chebbi desert.

Omar Camel Trekking

This is the camp where we stayed and did our camel ride. Absolutely recommended, with very nice people. Don’t be alarmed by the outdated website, send Omar an email and will pay after the tour. From 80 euros per night.

Book here

Luxury Desert Camp

Looking for camping with the ultimate luxury, than book your stay here. The camp contains a lot more privacy, special activities and you can reach the camp by private jet, haha, if you have that of course! Prices from 320 euros per night.

Book here

Kanz Emmeral

Do you also consider staying a night in Merzouga? According to friend E., this hotel is adorable. It’s a few kilometers outside Merzouga. Laying in the pool you have a view of the sand dunes of Erg Chebbi. Prices from 60 euros per night

Book here

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