VISIT MOROCCO – Winter at a Desert Camp
Are you day dreaming about a winter holiday at a desert camp in the amazing Morocco? If so, I would like to tell you this: Absolutely go for it! Book your ticket now and don’t look back. Start planning your itinerary and count down the days until you can enjoy the wonderful N-African sun, the amazing local cuisine and the fascinating & unique Moroccan culture.
January is the coldest month of the year in most European countries and the same goes in N-Africa. However, speaking from my own personal experience I can tell you that visiting Morocco in January is absolutely perfect for so many reasons. Here in this post I will share with you my experience from a 4 day desert camp excursion with So Morocco in January 2017.
Written by Egill Halldorsson.
Tanja, my girlfriend and I visited Morocco for the second time in two years in the beginning of 2017. We are absolutely in love with Morocco and we wanted to explore more of the country than we had already done, experience the culture and what we desired the most was to visit the real Sahara desert. We got in touch with multiple Moroccan travel agencies about a desert camping trip and it was soon clear who had all the answers – And some of the best costumer service we have ever experienced – So Morocco planned our whole private trip for us and we wanted to share the highlights of our adventures with you.
So, first things first. We booked our Morocco holiday not only to experience this amazing country but also as a “sunny holiday”. We are from Iceland and right now, the temperature is -10°C and our hometown is covered under tons of snow. Therefore, escaping to Morocco in January is absolutely perfect as we can enjoy sun and 20°C every day. With this being said it’s obvious that even though January is the coldest month of the year in Morocco, it is still just perfect for us.
Another huge bonus for visiting in the winter is that this is the low tourist season, meaning there are far less tourists around (even though the medina in Marrakech is always packed!). We experienced this especially when we travelled outside of the cities – And on the 4 day desert tour with So Morocco we were almost always the only travellers in the area. This was indescribable amazing when we were in the desert and had the entire Erg Chebbi sand dunes completely for ourselves. Oh .. just thinking about it brings a smile to my face!
Highlights from our desert trip
Day 1 – From Marrakech to the middle of nowhere
Hammid, Our So Morocco guide, driver and soon to be friend – met us outside our riad in Marrakech at 8.30 on our first day and we soon learned that we were incredibly lucky to have him as our local expert. Before our Morocco trip we were most excited to visit the Sahara desert and Linda at So Morocco helped us bridge the long drive (approx. 600 km) with awesome sight seeing stops along the way. So, on our first day we drove up and through the High Atlas Mountains and peaked at 2,260 meters with snow all around us. That was definitely an unique experience, since we could have been sunbathing only an hour drive further.
Shortly after the beautiful Atlas mountain views we visited Aït BenHaddou. This ancient Kasbah (fortified village) that is believed to have been around since 757. And since it’s great ancient Moroccan architecture is so incredibly well kept after all these years it has been the setting for huge films like Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven, Babel, Prince of Persia and so many more.
After a good and very enjoyable stop at Aït BenHaddou we kept driving on the road of 1000 Kasbahs – Experiencing a great deal of Morocco through our car window but we also stopped in several small villages and in the Valley of Roses where they make rose oils, cream, perfumes etc. and ship across the whole world.
Day 2 – Dades Gorge canyon & entering the desert
We woke up in an AMAZING riad that is located completely in the middle of nowhere – Somewhere deep in the Dades Gorge. The night before we were served a super romantic dinner and we were treated like VIPs for our entire stay like Moroccans are known for.
On the itinerary for this day was to explore the Dades Valley (the Grand Canyon of Morocco) which was truly incredible and then head straight for the desert! We got to the Erg Chebbi desert at around two o’clock and started our desert exploration by doing something that was completely out of this world … We did a Buggy rally tour in the sand dunes and I simply cannot put it into words how much fun we had. Speaking for myself, I think it’s the funnest thing I have done in my life! Not only rallying up and down 150 meter high dunes and drifting in the sand – But also the magnificent views. We took some great photos but I really believe it was too beautiful to be captured on an image.
Immediately after buggy , we met our new camel friends that took us even deeper into the desert – Enjoying the Saharan sunset in the dunes.
At around 6pm we arrived in a wonderful luxury desert camp – and we joked that we were experiencing the Moroccan desert just like the local Berbers … Except that we had beautiful warm tents with quality beds, electric blankets to stay warm, hot water in the showers and were served exceptional food haha! It was the best. In the evening we enjoyed a to-die-for view of the stars and sat by the fire and listened to our local hosts play Berber music.
Day 3 – Desert Exploration Day
As we were especially excited about spending time in and experiencing the desert – We spent plenty of time in the Erg Chebbi desert camp. We woke up early to enjoy the sunrise, had a really nice breakfast and got to take amazing photos in the twilight before noon. In the camp they had a snowboard (I guess it is called sandboard in Morocco) which I got to take a really nice advantage of … Yes it is as fun as it sounds!
Later, we met with our local hosts at our new Kasbah hotel just on the edge of the sand dunes and they took us on a really interesting day tour around the area. The focus was on showing us how the Berbers in this area lived and we visited both nearby towns and a Nomad home. Nomads are those who have no permanent home, but travel from place to place with their family and animals to find fresh source of water and food. As I was saying, very interesting and we really appreciated the insight to this whole new world.
Just before sunset I made a last minute decision that I do definitely not regret and turned out to be one of the best moments from our entire stay in Morocco. I had such an awesome time on the buggies on the day before and I simply couldn’t stop thinking about it … So, we decided to give it another go! Our host drove us to the Buggy & Quad base and this time we decided to try the alternative option and rented a powerful quad bike. Minutes later we drove into the dunes and just like before – We had the time of our lives. About 40 minutes later we stopped at La Merzouga, the highest sand dune in the desert to enjoy the sunset – And that moment was the most beautiful moment we experienced in our entire trip, maybe in our life. Amazing.
After a decent dose of adrenaline rush and sunset views we got back to the lovely Kasbah hotel, relaxed after the long day, were served a great Moroccan dinner, enjoyed the company of the super cute house cat and went to sleep.
Day 4 – Long, long drive back to Marrakech
When planning our trip we decided to make the most of our time in the desert and drive back from Erg Chebbi to Marrakech in one go … a 12 hour drive in a single day! Linda warned us that this was a very long drive but we looked at this as a small price to pay compared to the amazing time we had in the wilderness.
Today, right now when this is written I am sitting in our luxury transportation with Tanja sleeping besides me and a decent 8 hour drive so far on the clock. Our driver & guide, Hammid is rocking our world behind the wheel, telling us fun stories, answering a million and some questions from us and taking us back home as fast as possible. The drive hasn’t felt like 8 hours at all even though 12 hours is definitely a personal world record. Among other things, I decided to use the time to share my experience & send to you at So Morocco and thank you for an UNFORGETTABLE time and for showing us the absolute best of your remarkable country.
Thank you Linda at So Morocco but extra credit goes to Hammid our driver. He has been the most awesome person we have met so far on our travels – And we have met a lot of great people. Our desert camp trip wouldn’t have been the same without him.
Lastly, after our trip to Southern Morocco and our Merzouga desert camp tour, we are even more deeply in love with this country and we are already talking about our next trip. We leave Morocco with a smile on our face and memories that will last a lifetime.
Contact us to ask all the questions you have about this type of tour and to customise your trip to a desert camp in Morocco.