A camel trip is probably one of the main reasons why you should visit Morocco. Camel trekking and an overnight stay, combined with stargazing in the Sahara desert will leave you with one of the most memorable experiences of your life and perhaps with some painful blisters on your butt too. Here is what you need to know before you go.
Where are the camels?
Most of the camel trips start in Merzouga. Depending on your itinerary, most likely you will be traveling to Merzouga from Marrachesch. There are plenty of travel agencies that can arrange the camel trip for you from Marrakech, but if you want to save money, we recommend that you take a CTM bus from the city. The bus ride is about 8h-10h, but is very comfortable. If you have the time you can also stop in Todra Gorge for a night or two and do some trekking there and continue on to Merzouga from there.
First of all these animals are not camels. They actually are call a dromedary. The difference is that the dromedary have one hump, unlike camels, which have two lovely humps.
The most surprising thing about out camel ride was that all the camels are tide together by a rope and they walk in line following a guide. If you have never been on a horse and you are afraid, this is probably great news for you. For those who expect a more wild ride you might be a bit disappointed in the ride itself. The ride was fairly comfortable, but we were happy to get down after 2-3 h.
What NOT to wear on a dromedary (camel) trip?
There is just one very important piece of clothing that you should NEVER wear on a dromedary/camel trip. It's a thong. OMG, don't ever make the same mistake, unless you want to experience blisters in places that you never thought you could get.
Have you heard of the phenomenon called sahara butt? probably not. It's when you wear clothes that rub in the crevices of your body e.g your butt. Yeah, just don't wear any clothes that will crunch up in you butt. We are going to leave this here but trust us!!
How to avoid the sahara butt?
1. Wear comfortable underwear and don't wear any clothes that will crunch up (in you butt).
2. Wear long pants, your legs won't chafe !!
3. Loose clothes are great! You won't sweat and it will protect you from the sun plus you will be comfortable.
Also Important: Do not forget your sunglasses, head scarf, sunblock and SPF lipstick!
Night at the Desert
After a few hours of trekking you will arrive to your camp. You will be fed, with most likely Tagine, and if you are lucky enough you might be entertained with traditional berber music. Berber people have an amazing culture and spirit.
Tipsy Gypsies Tip: We recommend that you bring some liquor to the desert. Berber people like alcohol, and as long as you share your goods with them, they will too.
Berber people were traditionally nomads. Don't assume that the nomadic lifestyle and simple life make these people ignorant . Both of our guides were smart students who spoke fluently in at least 4 languages. They were also are humble and very talented musicians They told us they didn't like big cities and decided to live a simple life and follow their passion, music.
Tipsy Gypsies Tip: We talked with our guides and asked them for some funny stories from the desert. They told us that sometimes tourists get too drunk and behave rude. Some tourist decide to wander off the camp to the dunes and can't find their way back. Drunk tourist might be only 5 minutes away from the camp, but the dunes all look very similar. The guides are always vigilant and they know where you are and will rescue you (after some time) of course. So unless you know how to guide yourself with the starts, you might have to spend some lonely hours rethinking your behavior and actions. We think that is a fair lesson.
You can't miss the sunrise in the desert. It's spectacular! If you only stay one night you will most likely head back to the hotel early in the morning. You will eat breakfast at the hotel and you can use the shower and pool for couple of hours.
Saying goodbye to this view was hard, but we will be back for more!!
Meet the Ganoua tribe
On your way out from Merzouga we stopped by Khamlia village. Khamilia village is inhabited by the Ganoua or Gnawa people, who originally were slaves from Africa. Nowdays, the Gnawa people are shepherds and dromedary/camel herders and their music is world famous. At the village we experienced the traditional music and dance of the Ganoua tribe performed by a group called "Groupe des Bamabras" . They were truly amazing and welcoming. If you want to learn more about their history check out www.khamlia.com