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DAY 8: THE SAHARA

 
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CAMEL-RIDING IN THE DESERT

Simply standing on the edge of the SAHARA DESERT, gazing out into the most famous desert on Earth, is enough to make you pinch yourself. It’s too hot in the daytime in MERZOUGA to do much more than laze by the hotel pool – and taking the occasional dip when you’re just yards from a sea of sand that runs all the way to the Algerian border only adds to the surrealness of it all. The dunes here form part of the ERG CHEBBI, one of the Sahara’s larger ergs (dune fields), and in the late afternoon, when the sun has lost most of its heat, it’s time to head out into its wind-carved crescents. Most local hotels run two-hour CAMEL TREKS (150dh), where you’ll lumber over to a nearby dune in time to catch the sunset.

It’s great fun, but it's worth the extra time and cost for the experience of spending the night at a DESERT CAMP. This is real once-in-a-lifetime stuff, your camel train leading you out to a ring of Berber tents pitched in the middle of nowhere, where you’ll have dinner beneath one thousand and one stars and listen to songs around the campfire. At night, the silence in the desert is astonishing. How far you venture depends on the style of camp you’re staying at; generally, the plusher places (with comfortable double beds and hot-water en-suite bathrooms) are closer to Merzouga, and the simpler set-ups lie further into the dunes. Pretty much all the hotels in Merzouga have their own desert camps, but you can’t go far wrong with the ones run by Kasbah Mohayut (330dh per tent) and Riad Madu (1100dh per tent but more luxurious), though note that you might need to commandeer a couple of tents to fit your whole family in.


TOP TIP The desert can be bitterly cold at night, and whilst bedding and blankets are provided, it’s worth bringing extra clothes with you to help keep you warm.





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