Many of my friends asked why I was there in Northern Africa which seemed like another crazy decision I made as my exchange destination was indeed in Northern Europe. 2105 miles away, but of course I did not go directly all the way from Oslo to Marrakech, Sahara Desert was the reason for me to make my first step to the Africa continent and mark the end of my happiest 165-day exchange journey.
I have researched online about the local tours and guide to Sahara Desert when we were in Barcelona planning our next trip (I strongly suggest visiting Marrakech after Barcelona as the flight fare is surprisingly cheap!!). 9 out of 10 bloggers recommended joining the 3 days 2 nights tour and the last one did not join any of them. Urghhh...this was the moment I realized we did not have enough time for that and had to opt for the only option with shorter duration and tighter itinerary. So perhaps I am the only one to do a review for our 2 days 1 night to Sahara and here are what we did:
After 4 hours of bumpy bus ride set off in the early morning, we could finally get down to one of the many mud-brick old tribal villages named Kasbah to slowly appreciate the beauty and wisdom of the ancients. Built by the Berber and inhabitants centuries ago, all Kasbah is in a unique shape with different sizes of pink blocks being put together just like the lego. With the detailed explanation from our tour guide, I realize that Kasbah is not only a tourist spot or a historical site, but more importantly the valuable cultural asset of the local tribes who treat it as their only home. There were wall paintings all around and some local stores selling handmade products as well as Moroccan signature rugs and mats. Looking back at the photos taken, I should have got one for myself with colourful and detailed stitching patterns to show some support to the local craftsman.
Zagora Sahara Desert with Cemel Ride
Arriving at the desert entrance at 6pm, it was almost time for the warm golden sunset. My long awaited item on my bucket list was marked a tick the moment I got on the back of my lovely camel. In groups of three to four, the camels slowly kneeled down to give us a hearty welcome and greeting like gentlemen. Although this was my first time on an animal ride, I didn’t feel uneasy at all but there was so much excitement going on. With the big round sun approaching the horizon, the shadow of us, little camel and I were getting longer and longer. That’s the coolest and cutest moment to capture! The 30 minutes ride felt like a minute or two but I remembered my friend screaming all the way for her ride being too shaky. I enjoyed it a lot though and even took lots of selfies with my camel partner too!
Another good day ended with vibrant and lively colour changes shown all over the sky. From light yellow to a strong orange ray of light, I was so indulged and obsessed with sunset colours at all times. At one moment I put my camera down, talking to myself: capture this with your own eyes, heart and soul. Living in the moment is still my life motto and goal as the best present is to be present. May time forever be frozen still?
Campfire under the Starry Night
Having Tagine as our dinner in the spacious white tent in a desert which could be one of the most unique dining experiences, we met a couple from Belgium. We had a nice chat and wonderful time sitting next to the campfire that warmed us a little. While the locals kept singing in unknown languages with their instruments, it was an unbelievable dreamy scene when I looked up to the sky. I could not take my eyes off the stars, glittering and shining so brightly. As a city girl born and raised in Hong Kong which is a well-known concrete jungle, I have never expected such an epic starry night right above my head! Words cannot describe how touched I was by the beloved planet Earth where we are living on again at that time. But be prepared for a sleepless night! Shivering for the whole night even after I curled myself up like a shrimp, I did not feel better at the nippy and freezing night with just a few thin blankets provided. We had been struggling until the sun was about to come up again.
Camel ride, sunset, starry night, sunrise...everything in just half of a day’s time. This was probably the reason why people did not suggest this short trip as transportation time took us way too long and we just could not get into the inner part of the desert to embrace the endlessness. Nevertheless, all experiences are still worth it even if we had a tight schedule. So if you were in a similar situation like us later, just give it a go!
After all, this is a place that I feel far in distance yet so close at heart.
Some final tips: be careful of scams and pickpockets as everyone advises. Even though we did read articles and points to note for the scams, we still did not manage to escape from them, who were just kids. They were very welcoming when we first got out of our Riad (traditional hotel in Moroccan style) offering to bring us to our first stop and explore around. As soon as we put down our guard and followed the group of young kids, we knew that they would be asking for money very soon. This had kept me guarded the whole time without really enjoying my time and exploring the city. I actually felt much safer in the desert than in the city centre of Marrakech. It was too easy for them to recognize us as tourists so perhaps the best way to avoid any of these scams is to keep away from eye contact.