Fes –> Merzouga —> Erg Chebbie Dunes —> Ouarzazate
Our hostel manager in Fes spoke perfect English and helped us organise our journey into the Sahara desert. Everything was booked and paid for so Adam and I didn’t have to worry about a thing. We caught the overnight bus to Rissani where a four wheel drive was waiting for us when we arrived at 5am. As we sped across the desert towards Merzouga, the town on the edge of the famous Erg Chebbie dunes, the sun began to rise and revealed the most desolate and barren yet beautiful landscape. As the massive dunes began to take shape on the horizon, Adam and I could barely hide our excitement and anticipation for the days ahead.
After spending the day at the hostel catching up on some sleep, eating lunch and looking around we were informed that our camels were ready and that we would soon depart for our first night out in the desert. Adam was given a lesson in tying his headscarf and then we were on our way.
Riding camels across the dunes has to be one of the highlights of our trip so far. When we reached our bedouin tents along with the other travellers who would be camping for the night we all rushed out and explored our surroundings like little kids who were having fun in the snow for the first time.
That night we played cards, ate delicious chicken and vegetable tagine, listened to our hosts play the drums whilst sitting by the fire and smoking strawberry flavoured shisha. The next morning we woke up at dawn. Adam and I were the only ones who made up to the top of the largest dune in the area. From there the views were out of this world. We could see all the way to the Algerian border (closed to Morocco) and panoramic views of the Sahara. In the photo below, you can see two small figures just above our shoes which shows how high we actually were.
We spent the rest of the day walking up and down the dunes, reading our books, sleeping and eating. It was the most blissful day of relaxation. In the afternoon we got back on our camels and trekked further into the desert for our second night.
This time it was just Adam, myself and our guide. All of the other tourists had chosen the ‘one night’ option whereas we had decided to stay with a nomadic Berber family for our second night. This was really special. We were on the camel for another couple of hours before arriving at the family’s house/s.
The mud houses were humbling and the lack of ‘stuff’ was too. There were five children and four adults living in the desert. Adam and I played frisbee with the children and spoke in a mixture of broken English and hand gestures with them whist the adults and our guides cooked dinner. As the sun set it began to rain (a rarity in the desert as you can imagine) and it got very cold, very quickly. The rain didn’t last long but the children were ushered away and Adam and I were left with chatting with our guide while devouring our amazing dinner of vegetables and couscous. There was no risk of being cold that night as the little mud hut we were staying in was surprisingly warm and the camel-hair carpets that were beneath us and covering us ensured that we both had the deepest and warmest sleep we’ve had on this trip.
Lucky because we were up at 5 o’clock the next morning to watch the sunrise from our trusty camels as we made the journey back to our hostel in Merzouga before catching a bus to our next destination, Ouarzazate.
If it wasn’t for the sand that had made its way into every fold of skin, in our eyes, hair, bags, clothes, we might have thought that our trip out to the desert was only a dream.