Sahara Desert Tour

DSC_0287From Fes, we were picked up by our guide Omar for a shared tour across the country of Morocco. Our main destination was the Sahara Desert, but we stopped by many other areas along the way since the drive was so long.

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when the sun hits the dunes just right, they’re golden like this (no filter)

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We stopped almost every hour, driving along the Atlas Mountains. The first day was rather uneventful. The best stops was a roadside stop in a cedar forest where we visited the barbary apes. We passed by the High Atlas plateau; the geography was pretty monotone our first day until we neared the desert (10~ hours later).

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From there, we put on our headscarves and met a man with some camels to make the trek to our camp.

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Merzouga is the little Berber town on the edge of the Sahara. The camel ride was fun for about 15 minutes, especially as the town became smaller and smaller in the distance and we could only see the dunes – but then it was actually pretty uncomfortable for the remaining 2 hours. Eventually I realized that I could position myself in a similar manner to riding a horse, but it still was uncomfortable until we were able to make a pit stop and watch the sunset.

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Running around the giant sand dunes was amazing. The sand, since it was so dry, felt like water – and we rolled down the dunes as the sunset. This was probably one of my favorite parts of the trips.

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At the camp, we had snacks and dinner and were entertained by local tribesmen who performed music for us around the fire and under the stars, until we got too tired and wanted to sleep. Our tents had hot water, flushing toilets, and electricity – in the middle of the desert! The next morning, we woke up at 5 AM to watch the sunset.

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After breakfast, we all (somewhat begrudgingly) all decided to ride the camels back to Merzouga – we figured it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and we were going to be in a car the rest of the day anyway.

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a sheep market

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The second day’s driving was half the distance as the first day’s. We stopped by a few small towns and visited some local markets, then stopped at our hotel for the night which was on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Dades valley.

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wells from hundreds of years ago

Our last day, we visited some famous sites where movies were filmed: Ourzazate, and  Ait Benhaddou where Game of Thrones and Gladiator were filmed. This was also a highlight of the trip, as we were given a few hours to wander around and could also eat lunch where we wanted. The other days, we were dropped off at various lunch spots, which unfortunately were clearly catered to tourists and had agreements with the tour companies because the food wasn’t great.

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After 3 days, we felt that we saw a good majority of the country, and I’m glad I was able to check this off my bucketlist. However, our tour guide wasn’t very informative, and it was a LOT of driving. But I felt that I got our money’s worth at 250 Euro pp for 3 days (including food, lodging, and camel trekking).

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We were dropped off around 8 PM on the third day in Marrakesh, where we started the last leg of our trip.

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