Discover Morocco – Day 3: Merzouga (Sahara Desert)
I love knowing that I can wake up and there’s a lovely breakfast waiting for me in the lobby. The Auberge Chez Pierre has the best breakfast out of all of our hotels. Breakfast included skillet eggs with peppers, fresh fruits, yogurt, and assorted bread. Our tour started at 9 am to ensure that we will make it to the Saharas by 5 pm for our desert tour. The drive was extremely winding and I highly recommend taking Dramamine for the drive.
Table of Contents
1. Serpent Road
As we left our hotel, we entered the serpent road. The name is given by the curves wrapped around the mountain.
2. Todra Gorge
It began to shower upon our arrival to Tondra Gorge. Tondra Gorge is a massive cliff-sided canyon right off the interstate in the High Mountains.
Time Spent: 15 mins
3. Alcohol Store
Buying alcoholic beverages in Morocco is very challenging especially if you’re a woman. Our driver told us that drinks are four times the price and recommended that we buy alcohol at a store before making our way through the Saharas. The store was very limited. They had four types of wine. We purchased two reds. As we were leaving, we were yelled at in Arabic by a passerby. Probably for purchasing alcohol but our driver said that he did not understand what he was saying. I think our driver was just being nice. Be careful when you make your purchase.
Time Spent: 15 mins
4. Berber Outfits and Henna Tattoo
On our way to the Sahara, Ali told us that we need to stop by a Berber shop to get a scarf. First, the shop owner put us in traditional Berber clothing. Next, we bought long scarves for our camel ride. Since we both made purchases, the owner threw in a henna tattoo. The shop owner’s young daughter did a quick design on our hands.
Time Spent: 45 mins
5. Merzouga (Sahara Desert) – Dromedary Ride
We arrived at the tour facility ahead of schedule. We parked at the tour entrance and not where the camel excursion took place. The reason being is that most drivers do not know how to navigate in the Sahara desert and can get lost. Another reason is that the Sahara desert can leave your vehicle stuck in the sand. So use caution and park at the tour entrance and wait for the Sahara driver to pick you up. While we waited, we were offered mint tea. Around 5 pm, the driver picked us up and drive us to the tour in our own private car. Our tour guide was Hassan, a local nomad. He wrapped our newly bought scarves around our heads and took us on our camel ride.
The camel ride was a unique experience. We were riding on one hump camel, which is called a dromedary. To get on the dromedary, we had to lean back so we do not fly off when the dromedary stands up. We had our own private tour so it was just me and PL in our line of dromedary but there were other tours around us. Ali said that Hassan was one of the best since he is a local and he knows the best places for photos. Once we got to a wonderful sight, Hassan let us off our camel to capture some stellar pictures. As it got closer to sunset, we hopped back on and trekked back towards our campsite where we will be staying at for the night to watch the sunset. It was extremely cold and I forgot to bring a sweater. I was freezing and had to ask Hassan for the blankets that were laid on top of the dromedary. We sat there and watched the sunset over the horizon. What an incredible view. After the sunset, Hassan took us back to our campsite.
As we made our way to our campsite, we were blown away. There was a campfire running and a host welcoming us with tea and water. Since it was cold, Ali walked us to our tents so we could warm up before dinner.
Time Spent: 3 hours
Where to Eat:
We got takeaway during our restroom break in order to make it to our tour in time.
Dinner: Orient Luxury Desert Camp
Dinner at our campsite started around 8:30. We received a knock on our door when they were ready for use at the restaurant. We headed out around 8:45 pm. There was only one other party at the restaurant…but they were a party of Instagram Influencers from Spain. They were a bit obnoxious since they all had to charge their phones all over the restaurant and kept having to get up to check their phones. But in spite of that, our experience was great. Our server was incredible. He was a young 23-year-old working hard and hopes to open his own restaurant one day. Dinner was mediocre but I do not expect much since we are in a tent. We had our server bring out our wine and we were ready to start our night. For dinner, we had another five-course meal. First, we had a Morrocan soup. It was delicious and so fitting for the weather that we are having. This was the best out of everything else. Next, we had an interesting pilah rice dish. It had cinnamon, sugar, and peanuts. I did not like it at all. Up next, was a bunch of side dishes including eggplant salsa, tomatoes, avocado, olives, and more. For my main dish, I had roasted chicken with potatoes and veggies. PL is vegetarian so she was given the sauteed veggies covered in cheese. To complete our meal, we had apples with Moroccan Nutella for dessert. Moroccan Nutella is essentially almonds, honey, and olive oil mixed together. The influencers were celebrating a birthday so the workers all joined in together and they sang and danced for the party. They brought out a cake and shared that with us too. It was a lovely evening. After dinner, the workers all go out and play music under the stars with the campfire burning.
Where to Stay:
Orient Luxury Desert Camp
→ 629W+JF4, Merzouga, Morocco
I was blown away by our tent. When I requested a luxury tent, I was not expecting something out of the Harry Potter movies. For €65, our tent comes with a queen and double-size bed, five layers of blankets (no heaters of course), and our own private bathroom. Right before bedtime, the workers come around and told us to turn off all lights to reserve power and it does not come back on until 7 am.
The workers there are incredible. They live in the facility and do every type of job on the campsite including luggage handling, kitchen duties, and entertaining. At night, after dinner, they get the campfire going and play music for all their guests. The guests all dance around the campfire and enjoy the ambiance. We had the most fantastic experience here. Due to Covid-19, the campsite was greatly impacted. They said that the campsite used to be booked at 100% capacity but when we were there, we were the only party outside of the influencer. If you ever find yourself in Merzouga, stay at Orient Luxury Desert Camp.