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Sleeping in the Sahara

I’ve been on a fair amount of tours in my time . However, there has been none more memorable than my 5 days/4nights escape to Marrakech. This trip required a fair bit of research learning about the nuances of islamic culture. Being a woman has some minor disadvantages in this part of the world but nothing to be too afraid of. Expect men to turn away from you when accepting your cash to make souvenir purchases. They communicate and deal only with men. Keep eye-to-eye contact at minimal and don’t show too much skin. When here, I had the freshest orange juice available at 2durhams a glass. Be sure to have some Morrocan Mint tea, kafta, and morrocan coffee. I’m not sure where their cuppa beans were sourced from, but the coffee here has far surpassed my expectations (better than much of Western Europe 😉

Marrakech is like no other city I’ve been to. People are different. Their life income comes from tourism. The power of NO definitely need to be upheld in Marrakech. They want tips. They will take you to extremes to get their share of tips–expect some following for a few blocks, the “japan?Korea? China? Thailand?” spiel until you answer, walking in front of you as a “pretend tour-guide” trap to get some tips, and of course there’s the over-inflated taxi ride from the airport. Be affirmative when you say No. Don’t back down from the price you offer, and travel with a french speaker. I was fortunate to have a fluent french speaking Montrealer with me to tag along with and he got us through some interesting times.

We took a night’s escapade to the Western Sahara erg desert. Erg Chebbi (Arabic: عرق الشبي‎) is one of Morocco’s two Saharan ergs – large dunes formed by wind-blown sand. An 11hour mini van ride away, we kept our sanity at various check points along the way—including the Kasbah and getting the chance to interact with locals who make Moroccan argan oil, real leather, and Moroccan rugs for a living.

The desert tour took us on camels just before dusk. For speedy mobility purposes, our tour guide had advised us to take off our shoes when walking through the sahara desert . He was right. Bare feet on soft sand made walking so much better. We were advised there would be no water in the desert, so we purchased some water bottles prior to the camel trek. We were told our 1 night stay will have us awake in the wee hours of the morning (4:45AM) to ride our camels during the sahara sunrise. Before the sun went down, sandboarding was an absolute must. Later, we sat in the sand looking up at the stars of the Sahara. Chatting with our tour guide, I got to learn about life living in the desert. We were so far from the world and any sense of urban life. All I could hear was the sound of the wind brushing against my linen sand-covered pants. Our phones were off, and it was too dark for camera photos. All the better to be away from technology. Instead, the six of us sat underneath on top of the sand dune looking down at our camp set-up from afar. Despite the distance, we were able to hear conversations being had from far far away. We called it the echo of the desert. On this night, I’ve never seen stars shine so bright. I was at peace.

In Summary:

Time: 4 nights, 5 days

Costs: £147ret from London to Marrakech

Weather/Attire: Dress conservatively. Don’t wear anything flashy. For the desert tour, be sure to bring a backpack for extra clothes and wet wipes. You will get dirty from the desert after the night.

Helpful Tips: Touch up on some French. Bring some snacks for the road.

Would I come here again? : No. Marrakech is a one-shot deal.

Sitting under the stars and camel trekking the Sahara was the highlight of my trip. It is on the list of top 25 places to see before you die. If you’re still young (or feel young), then by all it! 🙂


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