While visiting Morocco in December 2017, I spent one night camping in the Sahara Desert. This was my first time visiting a desert of any kind and was one of the best experiences that I have had traveling. I’m not a fan of planned group trips and guides, but you definitely need one travelling through the Sahara Desert – let alone if you want to camp there overnight. My family, friends, and I got a personal Berber guide through the “Plan-it Morocco” organization (note: Berbers are the local Indigenous tribe in Morocco). This excursion went extremely well, and the whole experience felt authentic. Don’t be fooled by the pictures of the sun, hot sand, and dry terrain. The Sahara Desert drops in temperature extremely quickly once the sun sets. In order to be warm and prepared, bring a sweater, hat, gloves, head scarf, socks, and long, warm pants. I even brought heated insoles for my Blundstones… and they were lifesavers.
The most exciting thing about this experience, especially because it is on my bucket list, was riding a camel through the Sahara. My family, friends I had perfect timing, in that we hopped on our camels and made our way to the camp just as the sun was setting over the dunes. It was quite the sight and photo-op! Overall, camel riding was amazing… for the first 15 minutes. After that your inner thighs start to feel it. Keep in mind that camels do not walk gracefully so it is hard to get into the rhythm of their walk like you would a horse. The next morning – oh, it was a sore ride. Our guide actually didn’t ride a camel there or back, but walked as he directed the line of camels we were riding. My Dad asked if he rides one through the desert, but before he could answer a four-wheeler came flying over the dunes with several other Berber guides waving and smiling at us. Safe to say, definitely ride a camel if you haven’t, but there are obviously other fun ways to get around the dunes.
The camp we rode our camels to was a permanent tent set up. There were tent rooms with fairly simple beds and a lot of blankets. By this time, you could feel the temperature dropping. At around dusk, it was about 5*C. Evening at the camp consisted of a delicious tagine meal with traditional soup and bread. We ate with various travelers also staying at the camp who were visiting from all over – some from Holland, the United States, and Spain. Other evening festivities included a campfire and a traditional musical performance by the Berbers staying at the camp.
It was definitely amazing to see the stars at night while out in the Sahara. The lack of light pollution made for a perfect view, and the silence was excellent for sleeping, well except for the intermittent sound of camel farts and burps! It was definitely chilly… overnight the temperature dropped to -2*C. At 7am the next morning we trekked back to the small town we travelled from by camel. The sunrise was spectacular… as light peaked out from behind the largest dune the light, white frost on the sand sparkled.