A visit to the Sahara desert is definitely an experience everyone should have at least once in their lifetime. Djonnie Rahmat discovers The Merzouga Luxury Desert Camp–magical and luxury camping at its best. where else could you stay smack bang in the centre of the desert, have gourmet dinners under the stars and laze around on a day bed among towering red sand dunes? If you’re going to try “glamping” anywhere, Morocco is the perfect place to start.
The journey begins with a personalized meet and greet and VIP transfer from my hotel to Marrakech airport, followed by a luxury welcome box, a symbol of dREAMSCAPE’s best wishes for a unique experience in the desert. Then it’s a 55-minute private flight from Zagora to Chegaga and the amazing atmosphere surrounding the nomadic life. After a traditional lunch with the locals at a Berber house, it’s a drive toward the desert, passing through charming villages along the way and the magnificent Erg Chegaga Dunes, with the final destination a private luxury desert camp. A camel ride to welcome the sunset witnesses the endless ocean of pure Saharan sand. It’s a very peaceful experience that is rare in the endless hustle and bustle of the modern world. Then it’s time to check in to my luxury tent, and an outdoor barbecue under millions of twinkling stars in the spectacular night sky.
COURRIER SUD, YOUR SPECIAL DAY IN THE SAHARA
After spending a night under the stars, it’s time for the amazing, wondrous desert sunrise. A day packed with colourful experiences awaits, the famous traditional Berber bread-making experience, a walk in the dunes, an introduction to local cooking, and a picnic lunch under the beautiful Tamaris trees near the village. A truly unforgettable day. And then it’s return to camp, for, at nightfall, an exceptional dinner accompanied by an enchanting traditional storyteller.
CHEGAGA—FOUM ZGUID—IRIKI LAKE—SKOURA
The desert has just started to beckon me, and I have not finished discovering its thousand and one facets yet. Leaving Chegaga, the road northward leads to various lifestyle and culture experiences meeting the nomadic Berber tribes. It’s a day witnessing many wonders: the Foum Zguid, known for its old Kasbah; the dry lake of Iriki was once was the favourite place of the gazelles of the south of the country, and is also known for hosting the famous Dakar Rally; Agdz for a traditional lunch; and the Fint Oasis for a freshness break. Then it’s a private dinner and overnight stay at Dar Ahlam Skoura.
SKOURA—OUARZAZATE—AIT BEN HADDOU—ATLAS MOUNTAINS—MARRAKECH
The surroundings are picture postcard perfect, so close to Marrakech and yet so far, and visiting Morocco’s most exotic Kasbah, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, reminds me of the contrast between the old and the new, and I can’t help but feel the vibrant energy of this magnificent land.
In the morning it’s time to go off the beaten track, along a route lined with vivid natural colours with earthy ochre villages. It’s a journey discovering Berber civilization in the middle of nowhere, a little part of Morocco protected and hidden away from the tumult, the real and authentic Morocco, not the tourist version. Traversing an amazing mix of natural beauty and Berber villages, I finally arrive at my destination, where my private butler greets me with a soothing cup of Moroccan tea – a red carpet welcome to my authentic luxury picnic.
Among the Aleppo pines and oaks I enjoyed a delicious picnic prepared just for me with dishes infused with Moroccan flavours, freshly concocted from local products, followed by a nap in a straw hat and then a short scenic walk in the mountains.