One night camping in the desert in Morocco?

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Jan 21st, 2010, 11:45 AM
  #1
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One night camping in the desert in Morocco?

I've got a trip planned for this May that includes one night in a tent in the dunes at Merzouga.
Many people have written that it's a must-do, once in a lifetime experience, totally amazing, etc. But I have read a few reports that made it sound not so fabulous (mouse running around the tent, stomach issues with no bathroom, painful camel ride, etc.).

So I'm starting to second guess my decision to do the camp-out night and wondering if anyone who's done it will weigh in with their opinion.
I'm not a roughing it kind of person but I could tolerate pretty much any accomodations for one night. Although if I knew there was a mouse in the tent with me I don't think I'd sleep a wink.

The other option would be staying at a hotel near the dune-line and riding camels in just for the sunset & sleeping at the hotel.

Any thoughts?
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Jan 21st, 2010, 12:05 PM
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I did the hotel and sunset ride at Merzouga, as I was there in November and thought it would be too cold to camp. I just spent a night in the desert in Wadi Rum, also in November, where it wasn't cold at all. The best reason to camp is to see the stars, which I didn't get to do in Jordan because there was a very bright full moon - you might want to check for your dates.

Have you ridden a camel before? I find it decidedly uncomfortable, and I've ridden in three different countries, but maybe I just don't have the hang of it.
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Jan 22nd, 2010, 04:17 AM
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I haven't ridden a camel - and I have heard they can be uncomfortable to ride - part of my concern is that the camp-out would require a 2 hr ride in each direction. Vs. a shorter ride just to go into the desert for the sunset.
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Jan 22nd, 2010, 07:12 AM
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My ride in Jordan was an hour, and I was very ready to get off at that point. But others in my group seemed to be enjoying themselves.

I'm sure there are camps closer to Merzouga than two hours on camel-back - I think you just need a different camp.
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Jan 22nd, 2010, 12:12 PM
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Hello,
we had i nice experience in desert erg chebbi with camel trek.
it was wonderful and nice spend night with berbere familly en the tente.
good luck
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Feb 2nd, 2010, 09:03 AM
  #6
jgg
 
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We did the camel ride and night in the desert - definitely our top experience in all of our travels!! This is a bit lengthy but I am pasting that portion of my trip report here as I think it gives the best description:

After our mint tea it was about 4:00 and they said we needed to be on the camel by five in order to get to our camp before it was dark, so we quickly packed our bag with our long underwear and toilet paper and went out to meet our camels and camelmen. They were Assan and his helper (we never did get his name). Assan has been a camelman for 15 years.

We met our camels, I can’t remember mine’s name, but DH’s was Sharif, DD’s was LaLaMerzouga, and DS’s was Jimi Hendrix (not sure if everyone has a camel named Jimi Hendrix or if we all just rode the same camel!!). Getting on the camel was not that hard but holding on as the camel got up from being down was sure fun!!

We started out on our 2 hr. camel trek. Wow! As I said in the beginning of this report, it is truly amazing to realize that you are on a camel riding in the Sahara desert!! We never saw any other camel riders but did see a beautiful sunset. We arrived at our camp about 20 minutes after sunset so it was a bit dark. The night was beautiful, however. There were so many stars in the sky and DD, fresh from a moons unit in Physics explained that the moon was a waning gibbons. There were 3 tents – one we ate dinner in, one we slept in and the middle one was where Assan and his helper ate and prepared our meals. It was almost warm enough to sit outside for dinner, but not quite for me (I am always cold!!)

First, of course, we drank mint tea with Assan and toasted our journey. Then we were served the Moroccan salad with chopped tomatoes and onions that I loved!! Assan served us tangine Kalia that Lauren had earlier that day for lunch. The only problem was when he served it the egg on top didn’t look fully cooked through. (Now I digress, but the internet friend I had talked to about her trip with Blue Men, said the only problem she had is she thinks she ate a bad omelette in the Dades Gorge on their way to Merzouga and the night she was in the desert she got really sick. This being the case we were all particularly aware of not eating undercooked egg). We all kind of looked at each other. Thankfully, Assan said “Would you like me to cook the egg more – some people like it cooked more.” We all nodded our heads eagerly!!! We were also served a bowl of fruit and decided Morocco had the sweetest most delicious bananas we had every tasted. We really had a wonderful time at dinner. Just us, out in the vast desert reminiscing about our previous trips, about what we had experienced so far, and what adventure we thought should be next.

Well, no more putting it off, it was now time for me to attempt going to the bathroom in the desert. Just me and the dune. Did I mention earlier that I am not outdoorsy, don’t do the camping and backpacking things, so at the tender age of 42 this was my first opportunity – I will spare you the details but there was success.

We got ready for bed putting on our long johns and sweats. The tent had rugs down on the ground and we were each given a mattress, a pillow and two of the warmest blankets I had ever slept with. My two biggest concerns about the night in the desert were using the facilities, or lack thereof, and being cold. Luckily, I didn’t have to worry about either one.

We settled down for our sleep. In the middle of the night it got very windy and the flap to our tent would open and the sand would blow in. We slept with our warm blankets covering our faces.

Assan had asked if we wanted him to wake us up for the sunrise. Of course DH and I said “yes”. So at 6:00am he started clapping his hands to wake us up. The kids would have liked to sleep in a bit more, but they weren’t too keen on staying in the tent alone. Anyway, I explained this was a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the sunrise in the dunes of the Sahara!!! When we got up we noticed a small dune that wasn’t there the night before – created by the wind. We climbed about 1/2 way up a large dune near our camp (it is hard to walk up a sand dune!) and sat down just in time to catch the last part of the sun rising – incredible.

When we came back down Assan had set out a rug and our breakfast table in the middle of the camp with bread, jam, oranges and tea. Now it was daylight and we could see our camp and enjoy watching our camels as we ate breakfast.

Assan and his helper wrapped up the camp and “locked” the tents by putting stones in front of the flaps. We got back on our camels for the 2 hour trek back. My muscles were a bit sore from the ride the previous day. It helped to try to change position a bit, but DS, being smaller was the only one able to do a full criss-cross applesauce on top of his camel. As we were packing up DD asked what time it was. I said 7:30am. She said “7:30am??!! What time did we wake up??” I had to break the news to her that she had just woken up at 6:00am.”

We left the camp about 7:45 am and arrived back at Haven La Chance at 9:45am. We showered and got situated in our new rooms.
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Feb 5th, 2010, 05:38 AM
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jgg -- your original trip report is what initially inspired me to travel to Morocco. I've ended up booking with a different company - will report back on it in May - hopefully it will be as good as yours!

I did decide to keep the night in the tent in our plan - my husband will have to fret for a few more months and then thank me profusely for the amazing experience. I think he's afraid of some kind of attack out there alone. More likely to be attacked in our neighborhood at home, I'm pretty sure.
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Feb 5th, 2010, 10:22 AM
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"my husband will have to fret for a few more months and then thank me profusely for the amazing experience." LOL!! Hope you have a great trip.
Are you the same person who had the separate blog of your trip to Jordan and I think Egypt?? We are headed to Israel and Petra in March - that blog made me want to spend more time in Jordan, but it just won't work out this trip.
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Feb 6th, 2010, 05:53 AM
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I didn't do a blog (maybe you're thinking of Liz & Richard's wonderful blog?) but I did do a trip report for Egypt & Jordan. You'll love Petra - it was amazing. I only wish we'd spent more time there. I was with my mom & she was a little slow moving so we didn't get to climb around nearly as much as I would've liked.

Can't wait to read about your trip in March - you have a great writing style. Have fun!
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Jan 20th, 2015, 06:54 PM
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This trip sounds great and I've been inspired to do it when I go to Morocco this summer. Any suggestions for companies? I haven't been able to find any with reviews and I want to make sure I'm not getting scammed
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Jan 31st, 2015, 05:02 PM
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we were from the do-it-yourself brigade to a larger degree///so when we were in Maroc for a month on our own, we throughly enjoyed it. Not much for the tent and camel act which we eschewed but drove to most regions of the wonderfully exotic country... from Fes through the foothills of the Atlas mountains, onward to Erg Chebbi and Merzouga, through the handsome gorge country (Todra and Dades) to Ouarzazate down the Valley of the Draa River to the outpost town of Zagora and onto the end of the paved road at Mhmd and the Algerian boundary. From there, to remote Finnt, Casbah Ait Benhadou, Marrakech and vicinity, Essaouira and Casablanca/Rabat.(see map and enlarge by clicking on the magnifying glass icon)

Staying at the Riad Salaam in Erfoud, just a few miles from Erg Chebbi, the hotel manager suggested we hire a driver because to see sun-rise in the dunes we would have to leave at 4:30 am...pitch black, sand road, no divider lines or road signs, etc. I agreed and for $14 for the day we hired Josef who would drive my rental. Good decision.

We arrived at a poor excuse for a Starbucks, a little bare building with one coffee pot and some mint tea,presumably near the dunes. Just before sun-up was to get serious, Josef led us in the dark to the foot of Erg Chebbi telling us to walk straight up, settle and watch the sun (see pics)come up...gorgeous.

Two German ladies who were on the line of camels passing by us, begged to get off and walk for a while. No one else in the line was smiling! They teasingly asked if we could take them back to Fes. No way. So they decided to tough it out....and they were young, in their 20's, 30's.
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Jan 31st, 2015, 05:50 PM
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Jan 31st, 2015, 05:52 PM
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Here is Maroc #3:

https://picasaweb.google.com/stuarttower/Maroc3#
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Jan 31st, 2015, 05:54 PM
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For those of you who have not been to Morocco, these 3 sets may help familiarize you with that exciting country, Erg Chebbi sunrise is on set #2.
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Jan 31st, 2015, 10:42 PM
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Thanks Stu, they are lovely pics.
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Feb 1st, 2015, 07:31 AM
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Bokhara...I'm avery amateurish picture=taker...point snd shoot...but Maroc is exceptionally photogenic...hope you have a chance to travel it.
I've always enjoyed seeing your name...reminds of my trips into UZBEK SSR in the old Soviet days...Bukhara, Tashkent and Samarkand.
stu
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