Breakfast in the Hotel Oscar by Atlas Studios was £6 per person, and consisted of a well-stocked buffet of eggs, pancakes, bread, and fruit. Amazingly, the £40 we paid for the hotel also included access to tour the neighbouring Atlas Studios, where famous titles such as Lawrence of Arabia, Gladiator, Prince of Persia, and Game of Thrones have been filmed. Our tour guide Abdul was very well-informed and incredibly nice, and like many residents of Ouarzazate, was proud of all of the films that he had been an extra in over the years shot in the city. The tour lasted around 40 minutes with ample time for taking photos and exploring the sets, all the while navigated by the knowledgeable Abdul.
After another quick pack up of the room, we managed to leave Ouarzazate by around 10:30am for what we thought was going to be a fairly boring drive in comparison to the day before, but we couldn’t have been more wrong! The landscapes were mesmerising and the long straight roads seemed to stretch until the end of the world. After getting an hour drive under our belts, we stopped close to the Tizi’n-Tinififft pass, known as the gateway to the Drâa Valley.
Another hour or so further into the journey we stopped along a fantastic stretch of long straight road, retrieved a trusty football from the boot and had a good kickaround in the sun, enjoying the immense scenery and freedom. As the journey continued, we passed through the small town of Tazzarine where we again stopped for a lovely local Moroccan tea. The small desert town is fairly quiet, but worth visiting for the osis and nearby prehistoric Aït Ouazik, and from the English voices we heard in the café, it was a popular stopping point before the final leg of the journey through to the desert.
We arrived in Merzouga, Morocco’s gateway to the Sahara, just after 5 o’clock, and were met by a representative from Sahara Desert Luxury Camp, where we would be spending the night. He took us to a local hotel where we left the car, loaded our luggage into their 4×4, and was transported to our travel into the desert; camels. The locals helped us to tie our headwear before we mounted the camels, and we set off into the sand. Despite being exhausted from our travels, the incredibly peaceful camel ride was the perfect way to get to our camp, with the ‘camel driver’ spending time to take our photos, catching sand lizards residing just below the surface, and allowing us to sit on the top of the sand dunes and enjoy the sunset. However, the serenity was soon interrupted as we were hit by an immense sandstorm in the last 10 minutes of the ride. Thankfully we soon made our way over the final dune as the camp came into view, jumped off the camels and ran into the main tent to meet our hosts.
After another Moroccan tea and clearing as much sand from ourselves as possible, we were shown to our triple tent to freshen up before tea. For a bedouin camp in the middle of the desert, the tent had everything we needed. Enough amenities to give us a comfortable stay in between the hours of driving, but traditional enough to give us an authentic experience, the tent (with shower, toilet, comfortable beds, and lighting) was clean, comfortable, and gave us an incredible, unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience in the desert.
Sahara Desert Luxury Camp
Merzouga Village, Merzouga 52202
Our rating: ★★★★★
Find out more.
If we thought that the tea, provided by the hosts, would be basic food in the desert, we were very very wrong. After 4 courses of incredible, local, authentic Moroccan food served by the most attentive and hospitable people, we were absolutely stuffed and ready to curl up in bed for the night. However, as we just got back in to bed, we were unaware that the hosts were setting up a campfire outside to play Moroccan music and sing beneath the stars. Despite us all being exhausted and still full of sand, we headed back out of the tent to sit with the rest of the guests and enjoyed an hour of amazing Bedouin music that we won’t forget for years and years to come