On a Desert Majesty Marrakesh desert trip, or from Fes, Ouarzazate, Agadir or Casablanca, you will spend at least one night in a desert camp; authentic or luxury according to your preference. Some tours even offer two or more nights in the Moroccan Sahara desert.
Both types of camp offer a camel ride of about an hour to an hour and a half ride with a local nomad guide and the chance to practice some sand-boarding. Just ask for the board, if you wish to enjoy the fun of boarding down the dunes.
Water will be provided by your guide on the way to the camp, and tea is always available.
But how do you know the difference? How do you choose the right camp for the experience you want and for your budget? What do you get for the extra cost for the luxury camp? Is it worth it?
Most authentic Saharan desert camps are made up of about ten tents made of black goat hair. They are generally set in a circle round the central camp fire. Various agencies use these camps but they are only ever really full at high season.
The tents themselves are modelled on the tents traditionally used by the local nomads, and from material that the women have been weaving in the same way for many decades. They are a fairly loose weave, so unfortunately dust, sand and rain can easily pass through. This can be a great nuisance and disturb both comfort and sleep, so in the camps, the walls and ceiling are lined. Sometimes the door is wooden but other camps hang a traditional goat hair blanket, or a woven Berber blanket or rug.
The sand is covered with traditional rugs to reduce the amount getting into your clothes or bed. The iron or wooden bedsteads are raised, so you do not need to sleep on the floor as the nomads prefer. Each bed has a clean pillow, fresh sheets and plenty of blankets. You can charge your phone or camera from an electric socket and the tent is lit electrically as well. A small table is conveniently placed to hold your belongings.
Authentic camps have a communal dining room built of mud and straw for dinner and breakfast, although from May to early November you will usually enjoy the early cool hours or the stars at night outdoors whilst you eat outdoors.
Each couple or family has its own individual tent whilst the bathroom facilities are shared. There are enough showers and toilets available with the water heated by solar panels.
Luxury camps differ greatly and here you will be treated to the full extent of Sahara desert hospitality. You will leave the following morning feeling you have been treated like royalty. This is an opportunity to spend this magic time in the desert in unadulterated comfort, and yet surrounded by the beauty of the desert dunes under the canopy of the Milky Way and innumerable constellations.
The tents are made of a very different white and black material which allows for higher and wider constructions for larger interiors and which is impermeable. These private tents are spacious and are equipped with king-sized beds, tastefully decorated to add to the romanticism of this luxurious setting. The furnishings are equally luxurious with beautiful metal lamps handcrafted in Marrakesh or Fes. There are large tables, mirrors and armchairs to relax in. In addition there are electric sockets so that you can charge your camera or phone.
Each tent has its own bathroom, with separate shower and toilets. These private facilities are often the main reason for travellers and especially older ones to choose the luxury camps.
Traditional Moroccan cuisine is some of the best you will taste in your time in Morocco. And meals are eaten communally in a large, beautifully decorated, separate restaurant tent.