First desert experience

The desert… this magical and stunning place

My first trip to the desert was about 4 years ago. I decided to go alone on a 4 day trip from Chefchaouen to Fes and then from Fes to Merzouga.

My first stop was Fes, I had 4 hours while waiting the next bus to Merzouga so I decided to go to the medina, all by myself and explore a little bit…ok! kind of wrong decision. I walked up to one of the gate of the Medina and started walking, luckily I realized that if I turned any of the secondary streets I would have been lost, so the only thing I did was walk straight, eat a delicious “baisara”, which is a soup made of fava beans (make sure you do not order more than 1 bol per person, it is like a full meal!). Getting back to my wonderful decision of walking alone at night in Fes, well, the street was packed of shops, people, music, lights, rugs, jewelry so my next step was to go back to the bus station and relax there, better than been worried about getting lost and loose my bus to Merzouga! I did so and spend 2 hours waiting for the looong ride bus.

The bus left around 10pm and was a 9 hours trip, so I arrived at 7am, exhausted of not sleeping but more excited for this adventure, I did not cared about been tired. They came to pick me up at the bus station and drove me to a hotel where I had a little rest and a good warm shower. Around 5pm I started my journey to the desert.

The camel “Negrito” and my guide were waiting for me outside, even it was the beginning of January, at 5pm was still pretty warm. The best thing you can wear is a long sleeve and cool shirt and same for the trousers, avoid shorts because with the camel ride you may get hurt, you will be comfortable and you will not get burn (and remember: sunscreen for the face, very important).

We started walking towards that big extension of sand and nothing, just sand. The colors of the sand changed every few minutes.

I did not ride Negrito on my way to the “haimas” because I felt a bit sorry for him, he was carrying my backpack and all the food we where having for 2 days, so I decided to walk next to him and enjoy taking pictures of the sand (yes, it was only sand!). I got barefoot and felt the warm in my feet, if you bury them just a little bit in the sand you will feel the big temperature difference.

IMG_7458 copyNegrito and I

It took us around two hours to get to the middle of the desert to the “haimas”. There are a few camps installed above a huge dune, this dune is perfect for pictures but you better be prepared to climb it (bring a small bottle of water). My first sunset was from a smaller dune because I didn’t see my self capable to go all the way up after the two hours walk.

big dunethe big dune 

I met a group of girls that were staying in the same camp that me, we had some good tajine and listen to some music. I got crazy nuts with the stars, it was amazing how clear you could see every single dot in the sky.

the starsThe stars!!!

The tent was basically the perfect place to sleep in the desert: mattress and two blankets, it can get chilling at night. The temperatures in the desert are drastic, so go with a jacket if you are thinking on a night walk around.

Next day I woke up and got prepared to visit a nomad family that is situated at the end of the dunes, on you way to Algeria’s frontier. walk to the nomad family

Walking to the nomad family

We ended up in a big extension with dark soil, where the tent of the nomads where situated. They life with little and they need little. The old members of the family hided but the children were playing around, riding bikes and just, been kids!

nomad kids

Nomad kids

On the way back we had lunch in a “terrace” under a tree which gave some shade, at that moment it was the best lunch of my life: some tomato, cucumber and bread with a can of tomato-tuna and of course, la vache qui rit cheese. Morocco love la vache qui rit, if you go to a big supermarket you will find a entire stand with all the different types of cheese: la vaque qui rit gouda, la vache qui rit holand cheese, la vache que rie with olive oil… believe me, the variety is huge.

Back in the camp, relax a little bit and head to the big dune. It takes a while to go up and you need to be prepared to climb this monster, in my case, I didn’t have time to arrive to the top of the dune, but the sunset was stunning. There were some clouds on the sky that give a variety of colors and tones that pictures can not show. There was a moment were it looked like a fire.

desert sunset

Beautiful sunset 

Next day was “back to reality”, woke up early in the morning to not get killed by the heat on the way back to the village. Once I got to the hotel I had a nice nice shower (needed one) and rest for a while. My bus left at 9pm from Merzouga, heading to Fes. And next day, bus from Fes to Chefchaouen.

I traveled alone for the first time to the desert and it was the greatest experience. Do not be afraid to go solo, many people does, you will not be the only one.

Travel with respect and good attitude and everything will be great!

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