During our time in Morocco, we became nomads and ventured out into the vast Sahara desert riding camels and staying at Berber camps along the way.
Mud walls the colour of the sand at their foot line the streets of Merzouga. On the edge of the Sahara, nomads have given their (camel's) soles a rest and have built this beautiful town. A few shops selling much needed turbans and Djellabas share the street with tables covered in crystals and shops behind them with huge collections. Cafes are woven into the fabric along with a solitary, empty ATM.
There is a mystic aroma and the quite town leaves a lot to the imagination.
Riad Maison Adrar is on the meeting point between town and desert. The sand dunes can be seen from the courtyard and at night, a flight of stairs will take you to the roof. On a usually clear night, the Galaxy stretches over your head sprinkling its cosmic sugar into the black coffee of the starless universe.
The next morning we woke to Arabic voices telling us that our camels had arrived. After a quick, delicious breakfast we strapped our bags to the dromedaries and lowered our weight on to our best, yet most uncomfortable friends for the next 3 days.
Our Arab caravan was 5 camels long and led by Mohammad - our favourite Moroccan.
Enter the Sahara
As you enter the desert, the obvious realisations make themselves known. There is sand, a lot of it. Desert winds carve organic waves onto the faces of the dunes and the patterns is continued out to the horizon. Footprints left by animals and humans disrupt the perfect contours and gradients, but guide the way for 'new-mads' like ourselves.
Every day a new journey began. We moved to a different camp for lunch each day and then to an oasis for dinner and a bed. The campsites were simple but equipped with all the necessities, as you would expect in the Sahara. They have a very welcoming feel and the people living their are always keen to learn about you and share their stories.
The first Berber camp we stayed at was at the base of a huge dune which brought sunset a couple of hours early, but also provided the perfect slope for sand boarding!
On the second evening we were welcomed by two puppies, both under a year old. They went on to become close friends for the night that followed.
Each day ended with a beautiful sunset over the distant dunes and a cold which chilled us to the bone to begin the night.
Tagine, couscous or Berber pizza; a limited, but delicious selection. We had a different one each day always with their Moroccan bread sidekick.
The whole experience taught us a lot about the life of the nomads; always on the move, living alongside their camels under the pure cloudless sky in the Sahara.
We were lucky to live this experience with two friends, Will and Alex, who came from England with really cheap flights (8-30€) and ended up in the dessert with the two of us and Piari, our Inouk friend from Canada.
What is included and for what price?
The whole deal was arranged by a guy called Mohamed Sahara from the Scorpio's Cafe in Fez's old medina. He gave us very reasonable prices compared to all travel agents and riads (hostels) around: 1300Dh for 3 nights 4 days everything included (accommodation, camels, food, transport, etc).
But we recommend you to do it on your own. Finding your way to Merzouga is easy and cheap. Once there, you can either stay at a backpackers or get on Couchsurfing, it saves you a lot of money and takes the middle man out of the equation!
Our advice is go to Merzouga and ask around for the guy in the following photo. His name is Mohammad and he lives there. His contact details sadly, are non existent.