Camel Camping in the Sahara Desert
The road to the desert isn’t actually a road at all, we were driving along a nice road when all of a sudden, our van took a sharp left and across the desert we started bumping along. I couldn’t help but think this can’t be good for the tires on this van. It’s a solid 30-45 minutes of off-roading and then off in the distance you begin to see the golden sand dunes. We arrived at a desert hotel on the very edge of the desert and it was time to get situated for our sunset camel ride.
Luckily, we had bought head scarves and had a headscarf tying tutorial the day before. You can read all about that here. The camel guides are also very helpful in tying scarves if you don’t remember. After we all got a little re-situated it was time to meet our camel friends. Our group had 9 people, so the camels were split into 2 sets each with their own guide. Jess and I were put on the 2 smallest camels at the back of the group. You’ll probably have to carry your overnight bag on your back, but there are some storage pouches also on the camels and room for your water in the saddle on the camel. We were camping overnight in the desert which is not allowed anymore but at the time it was recommended to only bring the absolute essentials to camp and we could freshen up before heading up to Fes the next morning.
Getting on the camels, easy, the crouch down on the ground you up on and the little elevator goes us. Riding a camel, easy, we did have the smallest 2 camels so that could be something, but I felt like I could ride it much longer than we actually did and not have a problem. Riding the camels was so much fun! Our guide, Ali, was fantastic at stopping to take pictures of the group and each of individually with our camels. We also learned that if you say “Selfie” the camel will pose for a photo with you.
After about an hour of camel riding we arrived at our cute little camp in the desert. Getting off the camel is just as easy as getting on, the elevator goes down and you hope off. The guides are great with the camels and the camels are used to the routine and just know what to do. Jess and I paid for a private tent which meant we had a massive tent to ourselves. We unloaded our things and checked out the working flushable toilets and running water sink in the middle of nowhere and then it was time to head up a dune for sunset.
We picked a dune that was empty, should’ve been a dead giveaway not to pick that one, we got about half way up and realized the sunset was covered by the much larger dune in front of us with 15 people on top of it. We ran down our first dune and slowly made the trek to the other dune. Running on the sand is no joke, occasionally you’ll take a step and the group feel solid and the next step your feet will sink 6-8 inches. It was a definite workout, by the end I was on all fours as that was more efficient than trying to walk.
Jess and I picked our spot right next to the couple making out and giggled our way through the sunset. It was definitely not lost on us that this was a once in a lifetime experience and we were soaking up every single second of it. Jess and I are sunset chasers, always looking for it everywhere we go so this was very special for us. After sunset it was time to make our way down the dune and back to camp, sounds easier than it is! The sand is so soft which is really nice but also the most challenging part of trying to get around.
Camping overnight in the Sahara is like being a kid on Christmas you're too excited
to sleep and you don't want it to end.
There was a separate tent for dinner, and this particular evening it was just our group and another small group from Spain. Dinner was you guessed it, Tagine! It was great, we all enjoyed it. Normally after dinner the guides have a fire and play drums outside but there was a windstorm this night, so the drums were brought inside the dinner tent. Everyone took turns playing the drums and we tried to get some dancing going. It was very fun, lots of laughs and enjoyment were shared by all. There’s several reasons Jess and I make great travel partners but one of them is our shared love of stargazing. We always find ourselves laying on the ground somewhere looking up at the stars. Even on this night when it was a windstorm. We were both eating sand and even broke my camera since it got full of sand but we still enjoyed the evening. We made new friends and spent some time learning about the desert and the local way of life.
Learn more in related article: Marrakech to Fes 3 Day Tour
Waiting for my alarm to go off felt like an eternity. I wanted to be sure to let Jess sleep as much as possible but also wanted to talk to someone about my excitement. I don’t know why but I was worried we would miss the sunrise. Pro Tip, you won’t miss the sunrise, the camel trek back is timed to line up with sunrise. Before heading back we all got a laugh taking selfies with the camels. The whole ride back to the hotel I kept wanting the ride to be longer. We had travelled for literal days to get to this spot and I didn’t want it to end. Ali was great at taking all kinds of photos and videos of us as we headed back. Those memories will for sure last forever!
Back at the hotel there was a large breakfast spread waiting for us. We all had fun recalling our night and time in the desert. It was a sad day when we all loaded back in the van to head away from this desert gem.