Riding Camels in Morocco | Our Night in the Sahara Desert


If we had a bucket list, riding camels in the Sahara Desert would be close to the top. Ever since we started traveling, riding camels in Morocco and visiting the blue city (more on that soon), have been two things we’ve wanted to do. And man, our camel trek and the sands of the Sahara did not disappoint.

 

 

After visiting the Todra Gorge and catching a ride to Merzouga with a couple staying at the same place we did, we got in just in time to jump on a last minute camel trek altogether. At first, we were a bit bummed out because we were leaving so late and would be riding in the dark, but this ended up being more dreamy than we could have imagined.

 

 

Here’s a video recap!! —

 

CHOOSING A CAMEL TOUR IN MOROCCO


We had done a bit of research on which camel tour company to use, but in the end, hadn’t booked anything because we didn’t know exactly when we would be visiting the Sahara Desert. After staying in Marrakech for four days, and the Todra Gorge for three, we were finally going to jump on a bus to Merzouga – the town in Morocco where most camel tours begin. However, our host, Hmed, had arranged for us to catch a ride to Merzouga with a Spanish couple also staying at his place, and then do a tour with them that evening.

{Traveler’s Tip… Unfortunately, often times when people offer to arrange something for you in Morocco, they do so for a small commission or trick you into paying more than you should. We only allowed Hmed to arrange this for us because after staying with him for three nights, we knew he was simply doing so to help us out, not to gain anything from it himself.}




So there we were, arriving in Merzouga roughly an hour before sunset, negotiating a price for the tour, gathering our belongings and jumping on the camels within ten minutes of getting into town.

{Traveler’s Tip… When driving to Merzouga, be careful of the people that will stop you in the middle of the road. There are groups of people standing around throughout the city, and they literally walk RIGHT IN FRONT of the car forcing you to stop, simply to try and get you to go on a camel trek with them. We stopped for the first one, but then the second time, barely swerved around the guy to escape his trap!}

 

 

RIDING CAMELS IN MOROCCO


Before we knew it, we were off riding our camels across the Sahara Desert sands while the sun set behind us. We were lucky to just be the four of us on a tour, as we had seen many groups with nearly ten people all in a line. And even more so, we’d argue we got the best seats too! Heather was at the front of the pack, right behind our Berber guide, while Jay was at the end – getting to watch it all from behind.

 


 

The feeling of riding through the desert camelback is unlike anything else. Seeing the desert landscape pass by is amazing just in itself, but then you snap out of the awe of the landscape and remember you’re riding camelback, and a whole new wave of amazement passes over you.

 






 

And the colors, oh the colors. The sand was turning from yellow, to orange to a pinkish red, as the sky was changing as well. Taking off so late was turning into the perfect experience.

 

 

About thirty minutes into our camel ride, we stopped to take a few photos with our camels as we watched the sun dip down below the horizon. Getting off the camels was quite the trick. The camels bend down in the front first – making you have to really hold on, lean back, and squeeze your legs tight before they bend their back legs down to lay as well. It was like getting bucked off a bull in slow motion, then realizing all is fine!

{Traveler’s Tip… When going downhill, getting on, and getting off the camel, make sure you hold on and squeeze your legs tight! Nobody wants to fall off a camel in the Sahara!}

 

 

Getting back on the camels, we continued to ride for nearly another sixty minutes. This is when the trip really turned magical. The first star that we saw was straight ahead of where we were riding. We continued to follow this star until just before camp. It was like the first star was leading us to our home. That, mixed with the trip being the day after Christmas, and the camels in the desert itself, made the rest of the trip feel like we were riding camels to see Jesus when He was born.

 

 

Once the sun was completely down, the last bit of our trek was done solely by the stars and the moon shining brightly. Again, we were so happy to have left so late, as typically you reach camp before the sun is completely gone. With the moon half full, we were even casting shadows on the sand from the moon up above.

 

 

BERBER CAMP IN THE SAHARA


At camp, we were greeted with “Berber Whisky” – mint tea – and had the cutest little set up to sit back and give our legs a rest from being on the camels. We met another couple who had recently moved to Morocco to teach and sat and enjoyed swapping stories between the six of us as dinner was being prepared.

 





Time was flying, and just sitting back and chatting was reminding us of the goodness in travel, and the joy of meeting open minded people on the road. Before we knew it dinner was being served. We started off with a rice and veg dish with bread, and then were brought out a HUGE plate of tagine (a typical Moroccan dish).

 

 

AFTER DINNER, THERE’S ALWAYS A PARTY IN THE SAHARA DESERT


 As we were wrapping up dinner all the Berber guides came into the tent, got out their instruments and started playing us some “African” music, as one of the guides kept saying. It was so surreal. Sitting in a tent in the desert listening to beautiful jinbei’s played by men that lived this life on the daily. And they were so happy and engaged in the music – making it quite the experience to have.

 

 

Just as we thought they were finished playing and we would be wrapping up our night, the guides had each of us sit with them and taught us how to play the jinbei’s. I (Heather) could not get the rhythm down, but Jay was nailing it all! Nonetheless, it was a fun time full of laughs and embarrassment for us all!!

{Traveler’s Tip… Even if you have no musical talent whatsoever, get up and try and play! A) Don’t care what other people think, but B) you’ll likely never see these people ever again, so get embarrassed and don’t worry about a thing!}

 





 

Before calling it a night, we hiked up one of the sand dunes and just sat and took it all in. That may have been my favorite part of the whole trip. Sitting together listening to other camps’ jinbei’s in the distance, with our camels resting on one side of the dune, our camp on the other, and us just sitting by ourselves under the starry night’s sky.

 

 

WAKING UP IN THE DESERT


We surprisingly slept really well despite the temps being below freezing. Maybe life in a van helped us prepare for it!? Morning really came faster than we thought it would! I mean a 6:30 am wakeup call always comes fast, right? But we weren’t getting up to go to work, we were waking up to watch the sunrise over the Sahara Desert dunes. And man, it was so worth waking up so early!

{Traveler’s Tip… If you are one to eat right away in the morning, be sure to pack a snack or pocket some of the dessert fruit from dinner the previous night. You won’t get food for a couple hours after you wake up, though we did get some more Moroccan mint tea in the morning!}

 





 

We played in the sand, running around jumping off the tops of the dunes and racing down the dunes trying to keep ourselves from face-planting and sliding all the way down. If you ever need to feel like a kid again, running down sand dunes does the trick. We’d done this in The Great Sand Dunes of Colorado and in Huacachina, Peru, and still get the childlike giddiness every time!

 

 

We got to the bottom and said our goodbyes, before getting in a 4×4 and zipping along the outskirts of the Sahara back to Merzouga where we had breakfast to “end” our tour. Though… after spending one day in the desert, we really hadn’t had enough of that Sahara sand, so we decided to stick around for another three days – see our photo story here (coming soon).

 

 


 

Riding camels in Morocco has been something we’ve both always dreamed of. It’s one of those experiences that can literally take your breath away. We’re so blessed to have done this trip, and are so happy to be able to share it with you! What’s something that you’ve always dreamed of doing, and how are you planning to make it happen?!

 


 

READ MORE | 3 Days in Marrakech

This is a post about, well, our time in Marrakech. Find out the places to avoid, where we recommend staying, and the food you’ve got to try!

READ MORE | 15 Scams in Marrakech

If you’re visiting Marrakech, this one’s a must. If you’re not visiting.. it’s still a funny read! 😉

WATCH MORE | Moroccan Playlist

Hey-o we vlogged all about our time in Morocco. And this is a link to all the videos of our time there!

 


 


 

GET OUR MONTHLY(ish) NEWSLETTER
Become a part of the ArboursAbroad Family! Receive our newsletter along with freebies (like our budget guide) straight to your inbox!
Here's where we tell you your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else... but seriously, who does that anyways? Don't worry about a thing 🙂

11 thoughts on “Riding Camels in Morocco | Our Night in the Sahara Desert

  • Hi ! Can you please tell me with witch company you were ? I cant find one good enough and i want to see what you ve seen sooo badly !! Your pictures are just crazy!!
    Thanks for the answer !

    • Hi Jessica! Yes… we went with Le Petit Prince. You just go to their camp/hotel type accommodation in Merzouga and let them know you want to join! It shouldn’t be more than 40 USD and depending on your bartering skills, you can get it down to around 30 USD!
      We will say though, that we got in late and left much later than the other tours so I’m not sure you’ll have the exact same experience.. And it seemed as though we were in an overflow type camp because in the morning when we got back to the accommodation for breakfast (you have breakfast back a the hotel no matter what camel trek company you use) there were loads more people that we at a different Le Petit Prince camp!! And we didn’t have a fire, so that was quite a bummer — but everything else was LOVELY! 🙂 Jay’s been working on a video of that trip, that should be live on our ArboursAbroad YouTube channel this week where we show a lot more details of the actual Berber camp if you interested!

      Let us know if you have any more questions!!
      All the best,
      Jason and Heather

      • Thank you so much for your answer! ok so you were pretty lucky.. i was looking for a company with groupe of people but not like 15 people ! Hard to find because there are just 2 options : private tour or 15 people …
        If you have good riad adress in Marrakech it would be so Nice
        Thanks again ! I will watch your vidéo ! Cant wait !!

        • Yeah, we were so happy the group was so small. Honestly though, the tours will probably never be completely “full” to where they wouldn’t take you.. You really could just show up the day you want to go and head to Le Petit Prince, and ask them how many people are on the tour, or if you got like a group of four people together, ask if you can leave later. If you can bargain good and stick to your guns, they’ll probably do it for you, because in the end, they’ll still be getting money anyways. It really was super nice to go with such a small group — so definitely try if you can!

          You’ll just have to pull a white lie on a couple people when you get into town. If anyone asks if you have something booked, just always say you already do, or they’ll never leave you alone!

          As for Marrakech — we cannot recommend the place we stayed, but the area was really great! The people on the streets weren’t as aggressive, and the shop owners all extremely nice too! If you can find a place in the Northwest area of the medina, it’s much quieter and nicer and cheaper at the restaurants in the area as well — but still close enough to the Souks and Jemaa El Fna to see those too!

          If you’re going to Merzouga from Marrakech, do be aware though, that the bus gets in quite late, and we had some friends that couldn’t do the tour the same day they got in because it was already dark. — and if you have extra time, definitely spend some time in the Todra Gorge!! It’s amazing!!

  • Plz can you tell me with wich company you were in the désert ? Cant Find something good enough … and want to see what you ve seen soooo bad !!
    Thanks for your answer !

    • Hi There!!
      I’m not sure if this is Jessica again, as the comment is pretty similar to hers, but… We went with Le Petit Prince. We had it arranged beforehand by the people we stayed with in the Todra Gorge, but you can definitely just arrange riding camels once you get to the town. There will be loads of people offering you tours, so just say you have one booked with Le Petit Prince if you want to arrange it on site!

      We will say though, we left much later than the tours usually go out, so you may not get the same camel trek experience unless you can talk them into leaving later for your group! And with that.. we went during high season, so I think we were actually at an overflow camp, but it was nonetheless lovely! We’ll be publishing a video this week on our ArboursAbroad YouTube channel that shows more of the camp and gives you a bit more insight into what to expect as well as more on extra time in the Sahara too.

      Let us know if you have any more questions! We’d love to help you out in any way!

      Cheers,
      Heather and Jason

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: