I booked my 4 day 3 night Sahara Desert Tour through my hostel which included 2 nights at the hostel for a pretty good deal. I thought I was going to get to spend more time in the desert than I actually did. I knew it was a long drive from Marrakech to the desert but I didn't realize how much time I was actually gonna spend in th car driving. I think we spent a good 8 to 9 hours each day driving. Anyway, I'll go over the what each day entailed then the pros/cons of the trip.
I headed out of my hostel at around 7:20am because we were waiting for this guy to wake up then we drove to another hostel and waited there for awhile too. We didn't leave the main area of Marrakech until like 8:30am. Then an hour into the trip, the driver decided to take roll and check that everyone on the van was supposed to be there. It turned out that I was the only one doing the 4d3n tour so when we made our first stop I switched vans to meet 3 kids from SDSU who were also doing the same tour but the rest were only doing 2d1n. I can't remember all the different sights that we saw since we stopped so much but we would make stops on top of the mountain to look down and those were beautiful. We visited different communities and met a guy who did special effects for Game of Thrones and other movies like that. We stopped here for lunch but I was on a mission to find a MoneyGram to get cash since I had a travel money struggle, that I'll talk about in another post. The driver, Mustafa, did me a solid and drove me to like 3 different places for me to get money.
We finally got to Zagoura around 5pm. We rode the camel for about an hour or so into the desert to our camp site, which was gorgeous. I was shocked at how nice it was! They served us soup and chicken and veggie tagine for dinner. Then we hung around outside in a circle listening totem drumming and singing. It was beautiful and majestic, definitely appreciating like. Zagoura isn't he desert you are thinking of that are in pictures and on movies. It's the desert but the sand aren't rand and there aren't any dunes. So just going here won't get you the full experience of being in the Sahara Desert. Our tents were really comfy and I didn't even think twice about there being bugs or anything. The only bad part was that the bathroom was really far away. We got real good at going to the bathroom in the sand.
We headed out around 7am, had breakfast and then rode the camel back into the main road where we met our driver. Then we visited a carpet and antique place where this big guy basically wearing a white bed sheet showed us a ton of carpets and kept pushing us to buy them. I did not like that at all. He just seemed so sleazy. Then we went to lunch which was the nicest restaurant I've seen in Morocco. It was ridiculous because it was in the middle of nowhere so you know these tour companies have contracts with them. Plus the prices were outrages, like 80-100 dhm a meal, which is around 8-10 euros. That's absurd! You can get the same meal for cheaper for like half in the city. From here we switched buses with a crew that just got there that day and they were doing a 3d2n tour. We go back to the cinema museum we went to the night before -____- It is so annoying going back to the same places since the couldn't be organized for people who were doing a longer tour. We make more bathroom stops along the way and more sight seeing. Our driver would give us less than 10 minutes at each sight seeing locations and then rushed us back in the car like a herd of sheep.
We get to our hotel at around 7pm. The place was actually really nice! Plus they had wifi which was a lifesaver haha hadn't had connections to the outside world for like 2 days. The hotel was in a super cool area with greenery and a river running through at the bottom. So we walked around for awhile until it was dinner time. The best part was definitely taking a shower. That felt amazing! Much needed for sure. Our dinner was delicious. More tagine and a big grilled chicken and couscous. We also had the best strawberries and oranges ever. The night was clear and the sky was filled with hundreds of thousands of stars. So we took the extra blankets in our rooms and layed on the roof and watched the stars for awhile. I forgot how beatiful the night sky was since you can't see stars in LA.
Today was THE DAY! We were finally going to head to the gorges (Todgha Gorge) and Mezouga desert. The Gorge is a canyon in he eastern part of the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco near the town Tinerhir. It was beautiful! The cliff carved out with a river running through made it breathtaking. However, we were only there for about 15 minute before our driver rushed us back into the car to head to the next location. I just don't understand why we couldn't get more time here when it was a main attraction. Oh that's right it's because we had to visit more villages and shops asking us to buy stuff. Is company has contracts with all of these places that gives them commission on things they sell because we visited another rug place and also had a separate tour guide that kept asking us for tips. I did not like that at all. I rather tip when it's deserving and not asked for. Again, I did not eat lunch because I refused to cave into their schemes and pay 2x for a meal. I lived off my biscuits and free bread. After a few more bathroom stops and sightseeing stops, we finally got to Mezouga and the desert. This is the part we were all waiting for a traveled 3 days for.
We started our camel ride around 6pm. They put me on the very front camel, yaknow that pact leader. The name of my camel was Michael Jackson because "he used to be a different color" haha trekking through the red sand dunes was amazing. By this time I was used to riding the camel and it didn't hurt anymore or as much as it hurt other people, especially the guys. It took us about an hour and a half to get through the desert and to our campsite. While we were going, our guide was blasting JB and Adele on his phone the entire trip. You bet I took a ton of selfies with my GoPro and captured the entire trip. We got to the campsite at around 7:15pm and we had a bit of time to go up the dunes and enjoy more nature. The experience was definitely worth all th hours we spent in the car and the frustration of the rest of the trip. Laying on top of the tallest dune made me appreciate life and everything I've had an opportunity to see and experience. I just want to continue seeing the rest of the world and experience everything else that Mother Nature has to offer.
For dinner we had soup with Moroccan pizza. It was a bread I actually wanted to eat instead of all the free bread I've been eating for breakfast and lunch. I am bread out. I've eaten enough bread for a life time. Afterward we hungout in the main area talking about technology, IoT, and how much Mr. Robot reflects the rapidly changing world. Eventually we joined the rest of the group outside around the fire playing music and solving riddles. The guides were hilarious and gave me a good laugh all night. I also learned that camels don't sleep. They will lay their heads down for about 10 mins at a time and then wake up to eat. These serene moments really made me happy and again appreciate the life I live. We were all planning to stay up all night since we had to be up by 4:30am to trek back but I couldn't last. Instead of sleeping on our beds, which were really nasty and dirty, we crashed in the main dining area. The campsite for this night was nothing compared to the other night in Zagoura because they were not clean and I felt like bugs were crawling all over me. I woke up every 45 minutes or so to check if I had bugs on me.
We were woken up at 5am and head out on our camels to the van. We were basically trekking through the night since it was pitch black. I couldn't see anything so I closed my eyes and just waddled on the camel and they led us back. When we got back to the main area we were feed more bread, shocker... Lol Then at around 7:30am we stared on our journey back to Marrakech. We stopped at a fossil place that of course had things for us to buy, such a waste of time. We finally got back to the main square of Marrakech around 6:30pm. I never felt happier to see civilization and a nice shower.
[Pictures to come]