If you are an adventure seeker and you are looking to escape from the city craziness then in Morocco you are in the right place! Do not miss the opportunity to visit the famous Sahara desert. Yes, you heard right, the one and only, real Sahara desert that lies in the southeast area of the country and covers the biggest part of north Africa. This is the desert we used to see on super famous films and cartoons as kids. For me, it was a dream that came true and now an experience which will not fade away. The exciting thing is that the highest dune hills of the whole desert are located in the Moroccan part, specifically at Merzouga (also known as Ergo Chebbi).
The journey requires at least 2,3 days from your trip because you will spend almost 10 hours driving from Marrakesh to the fringe of the desert. It might sounds tiring, boring or even scary, however you will find several points of interest on the road and they will definitely keep your attention rapt. Along the way you will have the chance to see a mix of the Moroccan history, magnificent landscapes and get acquainted to the culture of local Berbers.
The biggest challenge to get to Merzouga is to cross the mountain range of High Atlas. It’s a challenge only because you need to endure driving on hairpin turns for quite a while. Try making frequent stops to avoid dizziness but most importantly to enjoy the magic scenery. Beautiful mountain tops, rocky views, Berber villages hanging onto the mountainside and snow! Yes, there is snow in Morocco! The Atlas mountain tops are constantly covered by snow throughout the year. Lately Morocco is becoming quite popular ski destination. Who could imagine that to get to the desert you would need to see snow first?
Does below picture look familiar? No, your eyes don’t deceive you. You have seen it several times before. The village Ait Ben Haddu, located on the way to Sahara, it’s one of the most famous villages globally since numerous Hollywood movies have been shot there. The Gladiator, Cleopatra, Lawrence of Arabia, Babel, the Mummy and most recently some episodes of Game of Thrones chose this ancient city for their desert and tropical shots. It true! Queen Khaleesi was here on her way to the Iron throne.
After passing by the last village and while reaching the fringe of Sahara we saw the Berbers together with their camels waiting for us to drive us to our camp. Camel trekking while watching the sun set behind the dune hills was magical. Desert vastness and it’s wilderness made us literally loose track of time.
And while I was convinced that ridding a camel, named Timbuktu was the most exciting part of our desert journey, our Berber guide introduced us to a new sport. Exclusively tailored for deserts, the sandboarding! It’s technique resembles snowboarding.Of course in one evening it was impossible to master it and didn’t manage to slalom on the highest hills but I did enjoy it to the fullest. Important lesson learnt from sand-boarding: Firstly, it is harmless because the sand is so soft that in the end, it didn’t matter how many times i fell. Secondly, running on the sand is much more challenging than it looks, harder than on any other surface.
Berbers made us feel like home during the overnight stay at the camp. Watching the beautiful full of stars sky, enjoying delicious warm meal, singing around the fire and listening to our Berber’s stories made it a night to remember. It was so interesting to listen to real life stories of Mohammed, our nomad guide who was born in a tent in the middle of the desert.
The desert will definitely imprint on your memory. Watching the sunset and the sunrise there, is a lifetime experience you will never forget. The colors of the scenery, the serenity and peacefulness offer you the ideal place to relax and clear up your mind. No matter how inhospitable the place might look, the desolate beauty of the desert will you give you an unusual sense of freedom.