The trek to the Sahara Desert, camel back riding and star-gazing was one of the main highlights of our trip in Morocco and the realisation of my partner’s boyhood dream.
It was almost ten o’clock in the morning when Younes (our personal driver from our travel agency) picked us up in Palais Du Desert where we stayed for one night before heading to the town of Erfoud. Erfoud is the port of entry to the Saharan dunes. On our way we stopped over for an authentic Berber pizzeria for lunch while waiting for Hamid, another driver who would drive us to the barren land of the Sahara on a 4wheel drive vehicle.
Driving in the rough and curvy road across the barren land to the majestic Sahara sand dunes requires an expert driver. Hamid is an extremely excellent driver and commendable person. The drive was smooth sailing and once in a while he would stop and let me take pictures of camels as we passed through the heart-stopping landscape of the desert. I was so exhausted that day, but I don’t want to blow every single moment of the spine-tingling scenery. The blue skies, camels, shrubs and acacia trees; Berbers riding on their bicycles and the dunes blown by the wind almost like looking at the waves on the ocean. Everything looks infinite, I was totally blown away by the beauty of the Sahara Desert.
As we continued our odyssey through the barren land at a distance, I saw a sparkling lake. I yelled to my partner “hey look a mirage”. A mirage is naturally occurring optical phenomenon in which light rays bent to produce, a displaced image of distant objects or the sky. For an exhausted travellers in the desert, an inferior mirage may seem a lake of water in the distance.
Looking out of the window of the car, the landscape is so fascinating, the views are breathtaking, there are dunes in every direction, stretching out as far as you can see. It was hard to put words to the vastness of the desert as you look over the sea of golden-orange dunes. The farther Hamid drove us into the dunes, the less we could see the road, we were driving through a sand desert.
After a long and tiring drive we finally reached our destination. We were in the Sahara Desert. Our driver pulled up to a small desert hotel or a traditional home, built in a traditional way. It was all covered with bricks made with mud, sand ,straw and has its unique rustic charm as you entered the place well decorated with colorful Berbers rugs on the walls. We were greeted by a young Berber guy and offered us some cold water and Moroccan whiskey (a glass of sweet mint tea) to refresh us. He then lead us into our room to rest and relax while waiting for the sunset to go down before we set off on a camel for one and a half hour trek out into the dunes.
Our hearts stopped beating when it was time for us to hop on top of the camel’s back. This is it! as I said to my partner while smiling and holding his hand as we walked close to the camels where our camel guide, Ali was waiting for us. As we stood close to our camels, I was a bit scared, thinking the camel might kicked me. But our camel guide, Ali told us that camels are gentle animals and all we had to do is hold on really tight once we hop on our camels back. When my partner and I hopped up on the seats on our camels back and our camels lifted their hind legs first, then their front one, throwing us back and forth on their bodies it was fun and daunting. That was our first hopped on a camels back and I could almost see tears leaking on my partner eyes. It was an emotions of happiness and excitement as we were ready to set off to the majestic sand dunes of the Sahara Desert.
The trek into the desert was a mind-bending experience, I can not believe I was there. I thought I was dreaming, stunned and dazzled at how immense the desert is, that even travellers may go for days to explore it. The farther we go the sand get more orange. It was marvellous. The sand is so fine and almost yellow-orange. I felt I would jump out of the camel’s back and roll my body into the lofty sand dunes. My inner child awakened. It was just an incredible sight knowing you are right there in the middle of mountains of sand dunes captivated by its glorious beauty.
As we trekked farther I saw more sand and bigger sand dunes. Our camel guide, Ali headed us into big sand dunes and from there he motioned towards us that we need to get out from the camels back and reach the top of the sand dunes. It was funny, I was trying to step forward going to the top but it was like stepping forward and back. I was grasping my breath trying to made it on top. Once I reached the top, the view was heart-stirring…the sunset..it was breathless, stunning setting over the wide horizon of the Sahara Desert. I can’t find words to describe how I felt at that very magical moment.
The sun had nearly completely set and our camel guide, Ali lead us safely to our deluxe Berber camp. Amazed at how skilled our camel guide, Ali was able to have his sense of direction without getting lost in the desert, I asked him: “Ali, the desert is so huge how you know where our camp base is? “How are you able to shift from one directions to another directions without getting lost?” Ali replied ” My brain is like GPS” as he pointed his finger towards his head. My partner and I laughed.
Finally we arrived at our deluxe Berber camp and met our Berber staff waiting for us. They showed us our room and I was tongue-tied when I saw the marquee. It was all covered with razzle-dazzle carpets, with a comfy bed, shower, private functional toilet and a sink to wash your face. I shook my head and asked myself, a tent like a five-star in the desert? Amazing right?
Dinner time they served us Moroccan chicken and beef tagine with plums, cous cous, Moroccan soup and fruits. The food was excellent.
After dinner we gathered around the campfire for hours laughing, sharing some stories and our experiences in Morocco. The team was excellent, they truly made our stay in the desert a once in a lifetime wonderful experience.
As the night became darker they bid goodnight to us. My partner and I remained outside the tent laying on a comfy cushioned laid down around the campfire watching a gazillion stars. I have never seen so many stars in my life! The desert sky is a great art gallery just above us; it was spectacular. Looking at all the stars suddenly dwarfed me at how huge the universe is and how wondrous. We are tiny dots on a tiny speck in a gigantic universe. It was a mind blowing-phenomenon and made me realised how fortunate I am with all those trials and difficulty in life here I am blessed and able to do the things that I want in my life. We didn’t want to sleep that night, but the desert was cold and we could no longer keep our eyes open. We came inside our tent where our comfy bed waiting for us as we crawled into the blanket and close our weary eyes with a smile on our faces .
It was hard for us to say goodbye to our nomad friends the following day. They became part of us, they are very special. Nomads are very fascinating people. It was a privilege and a wonderful experience to spent some time with them. But we need to go before the desert sun burned us up. Once again I need to look back and see the majestic Sahara sand dunes and left my foot prints on the sand of time, know there was something that I left. When I leave this world, I’ll leave no regrets, I leave something to remember, so they won’t forget I was there.
Trekking the Sahara majestic sand dunes was truly a humbling and life changing experience.