On our recent trip to Marrakech, Ali, the owner of Camel Safaries, offered that we could check out his brilliant Sahara desert camp and camel ride experience, which is part of his two-day Sahara tour (most of his tours are 3 or more days, we just did not have the time). For more about the whole tour, see our blog post here.
The camel ride and overnight bivouac in the Sahara desert were the absolute highlight of our trip. We wouldn’t want to have missed it for the world, it was so much fun!
We arrived just outside the desert town of Zagora at 6:30pm (we heard that, especially in winter with its shorter days, it’s imperative for travellers to listen to their guides and be swift at some of the stop-overs along the journey from Marrakesh to Zagora as they will miss the camel ride altogether if they arrive after 6:30pm!)
We made it on time, but other travellers were already leaving on their camels when we arrived. It took no more than 10 minutes, though, for Mubarak, our camel guide, to wrap our head scarves into the traditional head gear, safely seat us onto our two camels, and get the camels to stand up and start walking towards the desert camp. My camel was only 4 years old and called Diane; MrB’s camel was 10 years old and called Bob Marley.
After a day at up to 30 degrees Celsius, we enjoyed the pleasant evening breeze at about 25 degrees (the coldest it got during the night was roughly 18 to 19 degrees in the early hours).
I had done a camel ride before, a long time ago when travelling with Aussie friends through Egypt, and I had thoroughly enjoyed myself back then. But this was even better. I loved the sandy Sahara dunes and seeing other travellers on camelback in our proximity, which provided for great photo opportunities.
When we arrived at the desert camp, the guides started getting the camels ready for bedtime, taking the saddles and some of the other gear off, ‘tucking them in’. They also encouraged us to have camel-selfies taken with the camels or with them and the camels. My little baby camel cuddled up with me! It was so sweet!!
MrB was also pleased with his photo together with Mubarak and Bob Marley.
These animals have such great personalities, it’s amazing. They all seem slightly mischievous, cheeky, and very self-confident, always up for a bit of fun. Except for one bull, that was having a bit of a misanthropic phase, all camels were up for cuddles and photos.
The tent in the desert camp we were assigned was much larger than we would have required, easily providing space for the large double-bed and our luggage.
Dinner was served at around 8:45pm and consisted of a delicious traditional three-course Berber meal with soup for starters, a choice of two different tagines (beef or chicken) for mains (plus a vegetarian option, which, I believe, was not requested that night), and freshly sliced fruit for dessert. There was a range of soft drinks and water to choose from.
We didn’t see anyone drink any alcohol and didn’t drink any ourselves that night, but apparently you can ask your guide to stop at a hotel in Zagora on the way in order to stock up on booze. We believe we wouldn’t have enjoyed our trip as much as we did, if there would have been fellow travellers getting gazeboed around the campfire, but would have been fine either way.
After a rather long and strenuous day (well, we had mainly been sitting a lot in a car, in a restaurant, on a camel, in tents, and around a campfire) the traditional music and singing around the campfire really worked its magic on us. At around 11pm we said goodnight and went to bed. We won’t forget the Zagora Sahara desert experience.
If you’re looking for more adventures, check out our friend and fellow blogger Noel’s post on his two-day hiking trip in Chile’s Atacama Desert on his fabulous Tenacious Travel blog, or our posts on rock-climbing and off-roading near Porto, skydiving near London, off-roading in Kent, and a zodiac trip near the North Pole.