Ten kilometers from the Algerian border and a twenty minute drive across the desert is one of the most amazing places I’ve ever slept: a luxury camp.

I don’t usually do camping. Freezing at night with no showers and boiled hot dogs for dinner is not exactly my idea of a great time. But camping like this? I could get used to it.

Sahara Camp Toilets

The toilets (completely Western) and outdoor sinks, complete with carpeted walkway to keep out the sand.

Arriving just before sunset, we were welcomed by a gregarious host and a few other travelers. Just nine of us were staying in a camp that could sleep dozens, so the atmosphere was extremely peaceful. We were immediately served mint tea, poured from three feet above the small cup in a sign of respect. (The waiter managed to do this even in pitch black. Impressive skills.)

Sahara Dining Tent

The beautiful communal dining tent at night.

When the sun was gone and the stars came out we went inside the massive dining tent. Covered in silks and sparkled pillows, it was the very definition of Arabian Nights. Our guide had told us he loves coming here simply because the chef is amazing, and the meal did not disappoint! It’s probably one of the best dinners we had in all of Morocco, and that is saying something.

While we were eating the staff lit a huge fire in the pit outside. There we whiled away the evening listening to one of our fellow travelers, a retired pilot, tell everyone about the constellations appearing in the sky. On a clear night, so far from every city, the desert sky is simply stunning.

Sahara Camp Location

Approximate location of the camp according to my phone. Super close to Algeria!

The night is also simply freezing, even with the fire. Since we had decided to ride camels to the nearby Erg Chebbi dunes at 6am, we figured it was time to turn in.

I can’t tell you what a pleasure it is not to need to pitch your own tent. These tents are permanent fixtures and filled with every hotel room amenity except running water. All the pathways, floors, doorways and walls are covered in carpets to keep you warm.

Sahara Tent Interior

Inside our tent - cozy!

While the Sahara desert in February at night is bloody cold, they do everything possible to keep you from freezing. The super-comfy beds (yes, real beds) have about 30 pounds of blankets on them. At first I worried I’d have trouble breathing under all of them, but it worked out surprisingly well. I slept quite well, keeping even my head under the sheets, and only realized how truly frigid it was when my iPhone alarm went off and I stuck my hand out from under the covers. The phone was like ice and fogged up from my body heat!

This is my least favorite part of camping: the cold wake up. Luckily, with a whole room to yourself and fully-functioning toilets nearby it wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been. I opened the flap on our tent to a postcard-perfect view of a crescent moon hanging over the bivouac as the sky lightened. We had a quick coffee then hopped on our camels to ride into the sunrise.

Sahara Fire

Keeping warm.

Two nomadic guides took Nick & I up to the dunes, where we plopped down on a blanket to watch the sun change the sand from gray to yellow to blazing orange. The guides gathered grass and lit a fire to keep us warm. We were told they often don’t get paid, as the honor of being responsible for the camels is payment enough, so they definitely work for their tips. When we’d had our fill of the Sahara they pulled me down the dunes on the blanket like a little kid on a sled, which was pretty awesome. Nick had to walk down.

Sahara Carpet Ride

A magic carpet ride :)

Instead of just taking a tip they insist you buy a fossil that their family has scavenged from the nearby border area. We tried to explain we’re nomads, too, and didn’t actually want to have rocks in our bags, but ended up with a small one anyway :)

Breakfast in the sun was equally as good as dinner. After taking a few more photos of the camp, we got back in our 4×4 to head to the auberge (inn) that owns the camp. Though the camp has showers, our guide said we could just take one of the rooms for an hour to get all the sand off and put on clean clothes. The staff there was just as friendly and even gave us a little tour of the place. If camping, even in luxury, isn’t your thing you can still visit the amazing dunes and ride a camel, but then come back to a pool, restaurant, garden and huge hotel room. Though I’d still recommend the camp.

Sahara Breakfast

Breakfast in the great outdoors!

The whole place really is magical. From the beautiful decor to the outdoor sinks and otherworldly setting, this place is hard to beat for an amazing night’s stay. The other group of travelers, a family of four, was on one of those pricey Abercrombie & Kent tours, so you know I’m not lying about the luxury! If you want to sleep in the Sahara and watch the sun rise over the Algerian border on a camel, there’s no classier way to do it than this!

Check out both the auberge and bivouac here. Happy camping!

  • Carole Whelan

    You transported me to the Arabian Nights with this wonderful tale! Even Hercule Poirot would have been delighted, I suspect!

    • Kit

      Why, thank you!

  • http://gabbingaway.wordpress.com/ Sophie

    Oh wow this looks amazing! Brilliantly written too, I love how snug that tent sounds in the cold. Will definitely keep this sort of activity in mind for a time in the future. Never been camping before so I guess it’d be a good way to start :)

    • Kit

      Thanks Sophie! For non-campers, I highly recommend this sort of experience. All the outdoors with none of the roughing it! :)

  • http://www.wanderlusthospitality.com Wanderlust Hospitality

    Nice post! For on the business side of the experience in the US, drop by our basecamp at http://www.wanderlusthospitality.com. Cheers!

  • http://flashpackerfamily.com/ Bethaney – Flashpacker Family

    I love the look of this. Morocco is climbing quickly up my wishlist.

    • Kit

      It’s pretty amazing!

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