7 years old and off on a Sahara adventure
Camping in the Sahara desert is easily one of our family’s favourite things to do. Our daughter still has vivid memories of the times that daddy scooping her out of her pre-dawn slumber in the Fes Medina to begin traveling down south to the Moroccan Sahara for the weekend… The drive was long but always worth every hour spend twisting through mountain ranges or hurtling across desolate valleys. Now that we have made our home in Southern Tunisia, the Tunisian Sahara Desert is right out our doorstep and the drive to a spectacular camping place is cut in half.
In Morocco, the main area for touristic exploration of the desert is near Merzouga, at a place called Erg Chebbi. The towering masses of golden sand can be seen for miles away as you rumble across the ancient lava bed reminiscent of the back side of the moon. The experience is impressive, unforgettable and awe-inspiring. The tented camps are always being improved upon and renovated which can help ease any concerns over a s till-quite-rustic experience. There are many camel caravans that find their way from the little auberges/oasis hotels on the edge of the desert, to the base of the biggest dune in the area… a remarkable hike!
Returning from a Night in the Moroccan dunes
Here in Tunisia, there are more established places like that but the option to head out with guides who’ve spent their lives living as true nomads, watch them test the wind as they let the white, flour-like sand slip through weathered hands before effortlessly assembling an authentic camel hair tent to sleep with under the stars… well, there’s nothing quite like it! The dunes in the area just past Douz are slightly less impressive than their Moroccan cousins but the experience of sitting around the campfire eating from blackened pots bubbling over with some delicious desert delight, while listening to stories about a life so few on this earth will ever experience for themselves… it’s an adventurous anthropological dream!
For these men, the Tunisian Sahara Desert is their home, the camels we arrive on are more than beasts of burden… they are truly at one with the sand, the sun, the stars. They know them, they care for them and they love them… and they know how to share it with us ‘non-nomads’ is a way that is unforgettable.