Friday, August 29, 2008

Tea in the Sahara -- Camel Trekking with a Nomad Guide in the Moroccan Sahara Desert

Morocco is a country that offers unparalleled diversity, a people that are naturally hospitable, warm and friendly and a culture that is rich, compelling and enduringly fascinating.
Sip mint tea with the desert nomads and sleep under a star-filled African sky. Enjoy the warm hospitality of the Berber people and witness the remarkable clarity of light over the ever-changing colours of the dunes. Tour Morocco and experience the tranquility of the Sahara at the traditional pace of desert life.
Stay in a small desert auberge (desert inn) on the edge of the Erg Chebbi sand sea, where you can safely wander into the immediate dunes without needing to hire a guide; these dunes are the highest in Morocco and climbing them is an exhilarating experience. Camel trekking in Morocco is, for many, the highlight of a Moroccan holiday.
Take an evening camel ride into the high desert dunes to watch the sun set across this incredible landscape or camel trek further, to a desert oasis, and spend the night in a nomad tented desert bivouac set amongst the palm trees; after a simple dinner enjoy the festive atmosphere created by nomad guides as they drum and sing traditional Berber songs.
In the heat of the day, as you sip a glass of sweet mint tea with a nomad family, gaze across a desert landscape and imagine the days when lucrative trans-Saharan camel caravans, thousands of camels strong, made the hazardous journey from the salt mines of Mali and Niger to the bustling souks of Marrakech. Travel with your camel and guide as men travelled for untold generations, across the soft curves of sandy dunes and the flatness of the black desert (hammada), as dust devils whirl and mirages shimmer in the distance. Is your desert fantasy to wander in the Sahara like a nomad?
As I walked out of the ‘World as I know it' and trekked with my nomad guide, I realized that my journey was in fact one of self-discovery. On that, my first extended camel trek, my days and nights were filled with the unexpected. I awoke in the night to a cacophony of snores and, switching on my torch, discovered that I had been joined by a herd of ‘snoring' goats. I have undertaken two extended camel treks and I remember, on one occasion, staying with a nomad family in a traditional brown wool homespun tent.
When travelling in the Moroccan Sahara I repeatedly heard the words ‘Incha Allah' (‘if God wills'). I experienced, first-hand, that the life of the desert nomad is one of surrender and acceptance: surrender to the elements and the events of daily life; acceptance of what is and what will be.
Tours of Authentic Morocco - an Exotic Land of Ancient Kasbahs, Bustling Souks and Moonlit Desert Nights:
We have worked together for many years and arrange Sahara Oasis Camel Treks from Ali's Nomad Palace Merzouga, an enchanting small desert hotel on the edge of the Erg Chebbi Desert Dunes. I have independently travelled in Morocco for over 15 years and organise tailor-made adventure tours throughout Morocco with my Moroccan business partner, Ali Mouni.
I have no hesitation in recommending Morocco as a holiday destination and welcome the opportunity to introduce you to a country that continues to captivate and inspire me with its contrasts, colour and rich cultural heritage.


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