IGoMorocco Sahara desert tour – part 2 is a continuations of Sahara desert tour.
The adventure continues!
Don’t forget to catch up on Sahara Desert tour part 1 before you dive into this one.
Day 2 – Off to the desert we go!
Waking up at the crack of dawn is something I like to call waking up at ‘Stupid O’clock!‘ – I don’t like it but on this day I had no other choice.
I’ll be honest, it was a lot colder through the night than I expected, so I didn’t want to leave the snug warmth of the heated room. I didn’t want to spend another day in a mini-van but I was so excited to get to the desert.
Obviously with this being Morocco the free breakfast consisted of Moroccan tea, coffee, bread, bread, and some more bread. Remember though, it’s a long old day so stocking up on the carbs is worth it.
Unlike the previous day, this one started confusion-less , the same driver picked us up from the hotel, the same group was reunited and off we went.
Instantly accommodation stories were exchanged. Those who opted not to upgrade were clearly disgruntled with the shared accommodation and complained about just how cold it got, while those of us who upgraded kept quiet, not wanting to rub it in their faces. If it wasn’t for the upgrade I received for writing this post, I would have been one of those complaining too.
Once the complaining was over with, excitement started to filter through the group, with every mile covered the Sahara desert was getting closer. Just like the previous day the long drive was broken up with a couple of mini-tours. The first being a Berber village; was quite the education in Moroccan traditions, how they’re still upheld and how life in Morocco is so different outside of the Cities. The tour guide educated us on the importance of everybody from the nomads, the Berbers, to the people in the cities are to the fabric of Moroccan life.
Whilst being shown around the village, we were welcomed into a local house, where we were also shown how hand-woven carpets are made, and transported to the cities like Marrakesh to be sold to tourists but the true purpose of this was a subtle sales pitch. Oh yes the old man in this little clay house came prepped with a Credit Card machine and tried to sell us some carpets. He even advised the carpets would be delivered by courier, more specifically by DHL. Let’s just say none of us took a bite and the friendly old man couldn’t wait to get us out of his house to bring in the next load of tourists.
With the failed sales pitch out of the way, the group were ushered out of the house and out of the village to our final mini tour; the Todra Gorge.
I have to be honest here, if there were less tourists, fewer vehicles lining the narrow fault, walking through the footholds of this limestone gorge would have felt far more impressive. I don’t know it might be just me but whenever a space like this is crawling with tourists it just takes away some of the magic. However in saying that, as I stood in the footholds and looked up at the sheer size it did make me feel quite insignificant in the grand scale of things.
Are we there yet?
Finally after hours of driving through the barren lands. the Sahara desert dunes were on the horizon. The excitement built, the adrenaline started to pump as we pulled into one of the hotels, the realisation hit and a few even got giddy; we were about to go into the Sahara Desert.
THE MAIN EVENT.
We pulled into a desert hotel, a rep from IGoMorocco greeted us and reeled off the names of those of us who booked through IGoMorocco. It somewhat felt like a school trip, having your name called out and stepping off the van. Eight of us stepped off, grabbed our things and were shepherded over to another area, while the rest of the group drove off to wherever their tour companies were situated.
It was around this time when a permanent smile was plastered on my face, I was finally here, ticking yet another item off my bucket list. On a personal note, I have to say it’s times like this when everything else just washes away, it’s when I feel so lucky to travel and experience the things I do. My excitement levels were about as high as they could get as were everybody else’s, that long drive to get here was worth it.
Side note: Have your ID on hand (preferably your Passport) as you will need to fill in your details on a form. (You know, so if you get lost in the desert they will be able to identify you.)
As is custom in Morocco, we were offered some tea and helped to put our head scarfs on (which I advise strongly on getting.) And we were ready to go.
Now bare in mind, over the years I’ve jumped out of two planes, survived some of the worlds most dangerous roads, been around wild animals in the wild. However at this moment in time a nervousness started to sweep in with my excitement. Why?
Well, because reality started to kick in, all of us had heard nothing but horror stories about this next part. As we were ushered to the entrance the dreaded camels started to come into view.
Just days before this trip, two friends of mine who had previously done the desert trip had filled my brain with nothing but the pain they endured riding camels into the desert. It wasn’t just me, not a single one of the group had anything but bad 2nd hand stories about them. To say I was not looking forward to it was an understatement.
In a nervous huddle we stood together as our camels were readied, one by one we were ushered to our camels, I waited patiently before I was taken to mine. In times of nervousness laughter is the best remedy, and that is what we were all doing. I was led to my camel, got my leg over and up she went like a shot. I have to say, as soon as Roxy (yes I named my camel Roxy) took her first step, all that nervousness dissipated and the excitement took over again.
Led by a new guide, a local who grew up and spent his whole life in the Desert, he knew every inch of the Desert like the back of his hand, off into the dunes we went.
With only a few steps, I had recognised Roxy’s rhythm and quickly realised why there were so many horror stories; people were too stiff on them.
A tip for you guys, be relaxed and rock your hips to your camels movement and your ride will be much smoother.
Anyway, here we were – I was riding into the freaking Sahara desert!
The Sahara Desert.
There are really no words I can correctly articulate that would describe just how I felt at this moment. All I can say is it just felt surreal, I’ve had dreams that felt more real than this moment.
As a long-term traveler there have been many times over the years were the reality just didn’t live up to the hype, so many times I’ve just been left disappointed. However you will be glad to know, this was not the case for the Sahara, it was so much more than I had hoped for. The Sahara desert took my breath away and the ride through as the sun started to set was just so peaceful, I would go as far as saying it was the most peaceful I had ever felt; it truly felt like I had found my Zen.
See here for Sahara desert gallery you will see what I mean.)
The trek itself was slow-paced lasting around 2 hours. The guide stopped a few times to let us take some pictures but also to give the camels a rest. One of those stops, was to climb up a dune and watch the sun set over the horizon; there’s just no better feeling.
If like me, you decide to visit the Sahara through winter, you should know as the sun sets and darkness falls the heat will evaporate and you will start to feel the chill. So it’s advisable to take some warm clothes with you.
The trek continued in the darkness, like I mentioned before the guide is like a human GPS so there was no chance of us getting lost. With the darkness filling the open air the desert started to light up by nomad and Berber desert camp fires.
Just after 2 hours into our trek and the camp came into view, some of the group had started to get restless on their camels and the camp was a welcome relief for them.
On a side note, I have to mention just how well treated our camels were treated, once we dismounted, they were untied and given food and water. The guide even took a few minutes to go over to each off them and talked to them individually. (I think he was the camel whisperer.)
The Camp and setup.
The camp was much bigger than I expected and the reason was quite apparent. As this was a shared tour, just like sharing the mini-van with people from other tour companies, the camp was also shared by a number of other groups.
like a scene out of a Desert movie, propped up against the largest dune on Morocco’s side of the Sahara and the entrance lit up with Fire torches, we were amazed as we walked through. The camp opened up onto a large open space filled with two large fires and carpets to sit on. And, It didn’t even matter that we were in the Desert we were still welcomed with a tea. (Unfortunately I wasn’t able to capture any good pictures of the camp itself.)
I have to say the organisation was spot on, a tent to the side was set up as a dinner hall, group by group we were ushered in for a tagine dinner, once a group finishes they’re led out to the tents they’ll sleep in and another group replaces them in the dinner tent.
Once we were shown to the tent we’d be sleeping in, it’s was up to us what we want to do: Try and get some rest, go back out to the main area and enjoy the entertainment provided (a fire show, drum show, traditional dancing) Or venture outside the camp and explore the desert close by.
We decided to take in the entertainment, which was pleasantly enjoyable. Once the entertainment was over, our guide took us out into the desert, shared a few stories, told a few jokes and we attempted to climb a mammoth dune.
The only disappointment I had, was that at the time of my visit there was a full moon, so we couldn’t see any stars. So, if you’re a star-gazer, It’s well worth checking out when full moons are to avoid this disappointment.
The sleeping tents were large open marques lined and draped with carpets and the tents actually had beds in them. However let me just pre-warn you, even with being buried under a mountain of thick blankets, given the fact I have traveled and lived in some very cold countries – Holy crap nothing compares to sleeping in the Sahara Desert in January! I have never felt so cold in my life!
However somehow I did manage to get some sleep – My advise to you if you plan to go around winter take some heavy and warm clothes with you. you will need it.
Day 3 – Back to Marrakech.
Again I was woken at stupid O’Clock! I have to be honest, because I’m not a morning person, and because I was frozen to the bones, well let’s just say I wasn’t a happy camper and even though I had just spent a night in the Sahara Desert, that thought didn’t even enter my mind until much later in the day.
I greeted Roxy with a growl, climbed on her – oh she was a bitch to me, she didn’t like the growl so as I mounted her she decided to stand up …somehow, half asleep and numb from the coldness I managed to stay on my feet (with some help from the guide.) Roxy came back down and this time let me climb onto her. My fault for growling at her obviously.
The start of trek back was sombre, it was still dark, everybody was tired and nobody could put any thought’s together. However once there was a glimmer of light, the sun peeked through the darkness and the heat hit our faces our spirits raised again. Roxy was being nice to me, the golden rolls of the desert made me smile and all was good.
The guide found a nice dune for us to stop, so we could watch and enjoy with bated breath for the sun come into full view. I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many miserable and tired people all become happy and jovial in one place in such a small amount of time. The sun rise was literally like somebody flicking a switch.
Once the sun took It’s rightful place in the sky, we hopped back onto our camels, Roxy and I were friends again and we enjoyed what little time we had left in the Desert.
The tour includes another free breakfast back at the hotel, and guess what’s on the menu? …Wait for it….Yes, that’s right you guessed it – Lots of bread with tea and coffee. I think I drank a litre of coffee this morning.
A long Drive back to Marrakech.
The last leg of the tour included the long drive back to Marrakech…I mean a 10 hour ride back, in which most of us just slept.
Disappointment from other tour groups.
We met up with the other guys from our original group one last time before the journey back to Marrakech and they had not had a good time of it. They informed us that they were taken to another part of the desert and thus missed the sun set. Some of them had to wait around because their tours didn’t provide enough camels so the poor animals had to take one load and come back for another. They also didn’t have any entertainment, and their camps were atrocious according them. (Some of these guys had paid a lot more money than we did with IGoMorocco.)
My overview of IGoMorocco.
Going off my own experience and what I heard from others it looks like I made the right call booking through IGoMorocco. Apart from the slight confusion on the first day, everything with them ran smooth.
They kept in contact with me from the day I booked, sent me reminders the day before, even a message on the morning of the trip. I was contacted by their reps after the trip for feedback once the trip was over.
All in all the small mishaps and confusion added to the fun and adventure. IGoMorocco were good to me and I would use them again if I were to go back to morocco.
It goes something like this.
If you’re looking to book a 3 day Marrakech to Desert tour with IGoMorocco – your trip will run something like this:
You’ll be picked up anytime between 7-8am (from a pre-determined pick up spot I.E cafe France in the medina.)
People from other groups may be on the same minivan as you, as the drivers just get you to the desert.
That first day you will do all scheduled stops and mini-tours with those in your mini van.
If you upgrade to take the heated room option (Which I highly recommend in the winter) you will split from the people in your mini van, and stay in a hotel with others who booked through IGoMorocco.
The next morning your original driver and group will meet and you will head to the Sahara desert.
Once at the Sahara, you’ll split gain from others in the van and stay with those who booked through IGoMorocco.
The camp is shared with people from other tour companies and reps.
Let me know what your thoughts on this review/personal account of the IGoMorocco Sahara Desert tour is below in the comments.
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