The featured image isn’t Zagora but I loved this picture from the journey to the Sahara desert.
So we booked our tour with a local tour company who picked us up at 7am from our hostel and drove us to the main bus point. We did a lot of standing around before we knew where we were going and which bus we were on (there was trips going to Merzouga as well). We paid the remaining balance on our trip and then climbed onto the minibus. Unfortunately we were the last on, fortunately we were the youngest by 15 years so took the back seat!
The trip was very long and demanding with twisty roads through the Atlas mountains.
We saw a lot of beautiful scenery and did get to stop fairly often for toilet breaks. Although in the style we expected from Trip Advisor our tour stopped in Ouarzazate, a famous city that was used often for film sets from Gladiators to Game of Thrones. It was frustrating as we were forced to pay for the tour around separate from the money we’d already paid (admittedly it was 3 euros) but we were running short on cash without knowing the price of lunch.
It was an awesome place to look at from the outside but within it was fairly simple and not the most interesting place. I chose this picture as it is definitely mine due to the person’s hand! We were then also conned into paying 75 dirhams each for lunch which wasn’t included either in our trip and we were taken to a place away from other restaurants (and obviously gave them commission). We paid twice what we would pay in Marrakech and the food wasn’t that nice given the price.
After paying we were guided back to the bus where we spent another few hours traveling to the desert. We were told the bus was running late and we wouldn’t get to ride the camels at sunset if we didn’t get there on time.
As I watched the sunset whizzing past the bus window we eventually pulled up at the edge of a town and were bundled out of the bus with whatever we needed for the night in the Berber tent. Top tip Always a good idea to have enough water before you leave the city as there’s nowhere to buy it.
Everyone was helped onto a camel each, which did look old and a bit poorly treated. There was a few with abscesses and some with sores on their knees and legs. The guides just tied them all together and got us to walk in a line of 6 or 7. If you are comfortable with horse riding then remember that camels are more uncomfortable and have a hump! We rode them for over an hour, mostly by moonlight which was interest but very very uncomfortable. Chaffed legs were the style by all the group and everyone had a weird walk once we got to the Berber tents.
I will be proud in saying I didn’t fall off a camel despite its double knee caps but I will not be riding one again. The camp was more advanced than I expected, having electric lights in the tents and we did have a lovely meal. After there was a camp fire and some singing which was fun but the temperature was very cold.
We were woken at 6am to be served a basic breakfast of bread and honey with tea or coffee while watching the sunrise over the dunes. This was a lovely experience but it was a shame we didn’t get to see the red sand dunes of the sahara that can be seen in Merzouga (longer trip ).
We then all sat on the camels for another hour to get back to the bus. However at this point I had blisters I don’t want to go into detail about and was getting panicky about falling off the camel – after 20 minutes the camel started stomping. By this point I had got myself into a state and begged one of the men in charge to get me off the camel, I was so much happier to have both my feet firmly on the ground and walk near to them with a few other members of my group who had also opted out.
We climbed back on the bus to take the journey all the way back to Marrakech, which was just as long and twisty with limited chance to sleep and a bus driver who decided not to stop until we begged him for a toilet break. He took us to a carpet shop (which probably paid commission again) and we had more tea. As students we briefly explained we didn’t own houses never mind anywhere to put a 300 euro rug!
The lunch stop was cheaper and we had a lovely Berber omelette and fries. Back on the road again we got back to Marrakech exhausted and looking forward to a shower at 6pm. Unfortunately we had a mix up with our hotel which you can read in my Marrakech post here.
Overall I would advise going to MERZOUGA instead if you want to see red dunes and if you have the time. If not this is a fun trip but not quite the same experience of the desert!
If you want to watch my Youtube video from Morocco watch here.