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January 22, 2020
I can’t even believe I’m typing this right now, but I just camped in the Sahara Desert for 3 days! I’ll be honest, when I booked my flight to Morocco, the only thing I was thinking about was all the white and blue tiles everywhere in the gorgeous Moroccan designs. The desert isn’t the first thing that comes to mind at all. But after chatting about Morocco with a new friend and seeing his stunning photos, I knew I had to go.
I did some research and found quite a few luxury desert camps. We all know that luxury is my jam – but camping? Umm, not so much. But that’s really the only option if you want to see the desert for more than a few hours. And let me just tell you: you don’t want to miss the desert at night.
After my search, I decided the best option was Erg Chegaga Luxury Desert Camp. Not only did the website provide a wealth of information about the area, but they can coordinate every last detail for you. All meals (and alcohol!!!), activities, and entertainment are included in the price, which is totally reasonable when you factor in everything you get. Honestly, as cheesy as it sounds, the experience was priceless.
I knew this experience would be different from the get-go. In order to book, you have to email Nick, the owner. There’s no online booking process. But I mean, this is Morocco, so I went with it. Nick is so beyond hospitable and helpful. He is so full of information about the area that we conversed back and forth several times before I even booked the tents. I absolutely loved chatting with him and we even talked on the phone for about 20 minutes on the last night of my stay. He made the whole process so easy for us and we felt so welcomed. It was like we were family by the time we left. Too bad I didn’t get to meet him! If you visit the camp after reading this, make sure to tell him I sent you!
The camp is a 3-hour drive from Zagora, where we flew into from Marrakech. Funny thing, it was actually the first flight ever from Marrakech to Zagora. Previously, you could only fly to Zagora from Casablanca, so it worked out perfectly for us! Before, the only way to get there was a 10-hour drive. Nah, dawg. Although I did hear the ride is cool, we didn’t have that much time.
We were greeted at the airport by Mohammed, aka Haj, who drove us to the camp. He was such a sweetie and told us all kinds of information about the area as we drove. His family is from the last town before the desert, so he saw lots of friends as we drove through. It was so cool! The drive is about an hour and a half on roads and an hour and a half through the actual desert on all different kinds of terrains including rocks, clay, and sand. Watch out for wild camels crossing – ha!
Upon arrival to the camp, my boy, Bachir, greeted us with wine and snacks. Bachir isn’t usually the one in charge, but Bobo, Nick’s Moroccan partner in the camp, was on vacation for the week, so Bachir was in charge during his absence. I have to say, he killed it. Not only was he there for anything we could possibly need, but he was fun to hang out with and encouraged me to do things when I was scared to (which I totally needed!). He even helped coordinate a photo shoot on the last day!
After the welcome drinks, Bachir showed us to our tents. You pay per person, so since there were three of us, we could have gotten three tents if we wanted, but we preferred to be together, so we got two. We had just enough time to settle in and make it up to the big dune for sunset, where we met the other campers. I think my favorite part of it all was the community feeling of the camp. Instead of walking back down the dune, you have the option to sandsurf. How cool!! After sunset, we walked down to a little sitting area where we all had some wine and got to know each other. Next we made our way to the fire where we got into talking politics since it was right after the midterm elections. Luckily we all agreed, so everyone got along very well!
Dinner was served family style and it was delicious. There were plenty of vegetarian options so we loved it. After dinner, there is some local musical entertainment around the fire. It was so cool! You can either hang out and have more wine, go stargaze (which is amazing!!! You can see the Milky Way!), or go to your tent. We did a little of each and then had girl time in one of our tents. It was the perfect first day!
One thing that is questionable is the bathroom situation. It is a common question I got asked on Instagram, so I’ll go ahead and tell you. Yes, there is a normal toilet. Well, almost normal. It doesn’t flush, but I’ve been all over the world and I’ve definitely seen worse. It basically just drops into a hole below that the staff must clean or something. You use a bucket and bowl to pour water in to “flush.” It wasn’t bad at all in my opinion. Nothing like Thailand or even some parts of China!
As for the shower and sink, it’s full on Game of Thrones style. The shower consists of two buckets: one hot and one cold. You get a little bowl to pour the water over yourself. There are washcloths, so that definitely makes it easier. I was able to wash my hair and everything so it was fine, but I don’t know if I could do it for more than three days, though I do wish I could live there forever! I’d have to add a shower fa sho.
The next day, we all met at 10:30am to ride camels. Ok, fine, we were late and met up with everyone else after the camel ride. Oops! It was amazing though. I ended up with a “lazy” camel, as Bachir calls him, who actually fell on me! He was still sitting down so he kind of just rolled over, but he was straight up laying on me. I got a nasty scrape on my ankle and a huge bruise on my leg. But I’m a trooper and I powered on! Just kidding. I almost started crying and said I didn’t want to ride the camel anymore. But Bachir was having none of it and made me go. And I’m so so glad he did! We met up with the others where we bandaged up my leg and then we were off to lunch. We took cars to another little restaurant where we all ate lunch together. When we got back, we did the sunset and sandsurfing thing again. It was the perfect desert day!
When it was time to leave the next day, I didn’t want to go. But sadly Bachir did not propose, so I had to go. I’m dying to go back and one day I will make it happen!