One doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.Andre Gide
Feb 2-3 2015
Halfway through our road trip, we arrived just outside the town of Merzouga alongside the Erg Chebbi dunes, located on the far western edge of the Sahara Desert. We had arranged for a local guide to take us into the dunes and desert for an overnight camping trip, traveling on the back of camels.
We joined up with Ahmed, who runs Quiet Merzouga Desert, who met us alongside the road. We picked his tour as it is run by him as opposed to the large mega tour companies that have no connection to the area. After a short walk we arrived at his home and guesthouse, where we were ti rest up a bit and enjoy some snacks and Berber tea, a green tea thart is prepared with spearmint leaves and sugar. Soon it was time for us to hop onto our camels and start the adventure into the dunes. It was our first time riding camels, and trust us, it’s not quite as comfortable as riding a horse, but it was manageable and easier then having to walk through the sand. Luckily we were able to and take pictures at different points along the journey.
Journeying through the Erg Chebbi dunes is a surreal and mystical experience that makes you feel as though you were in the middle of a Star Wars movie. Looking around from every angle, all we were able to see were beautiful, orange and perfectly wind sculpted dunes. The dunes reach a height of nearly 500 feet in some places and altogether they span an area of 30 miles from north to south and between to 3 to 6 miles from east to west, lining the Algerian border.
After about two hours of riding through the dunes we reached the east side of Erg Chebbu, here we could see Algeria in the distance as we crossed a dry river and entered the of a Berber family that lives alone in traditional tents. At the home we relaxed on blankets and ate fresh fruits and a variety of nuts. Later we got to watch as they cooked us a delicious Berber pizza, also known as Medfouna, a Moroccan baked flat bread with a flavorsome stuffing that includes herbs, spices and meat. While enjoying the lunch we got to chat about life living in the desert, we also shared stories about our travels and what life is like back home.
After a few hours we hopped back on our camels and headed back into the dunes to our campsite for the night. Once we reached the campsite we climbed one of the highest dunes in the area and enjoyed some sandboarding well into the evening. It was also a great opportunity to take lovely pictures of the sunset.
After the sun disappeared beyond the horizon, the temperature rapidly dropped, so we gathered around a camp fire and watched as our dinner was prepared. Here we hung out and played drums, telling jokes and enjoying the quiet of the surrounding desert. It was a magical night as the sky was clear and the stars sparkled and shined with intensity. Soon we climbed into our tent and into our very warm beds. We would get up the next morning to watch the sunrise.
When we woke up it was still dark out, we enjoyed some tea and coffee with our breakfeast before heading out to the top of one of the nearby dunes, watching in awe as the sun slowly rose into the sky. Once the dunes were full of light, we hopped back on our camels and made the final trek back to the guest house. We cleaned up and had a warm shower before jumping back in our car to continue our road trip towards Marrakech.
We were so glad that we did the desert tour. It was the perfect destination to relax and feel the beauty, the hospitality and to taste the flavor of the desert. From the camels, funny guides, sunrise and sunset, to the wonderful meals, tea, music and good vibes, it was well worth the trip.