Deep in South East Morocco, lie two sets of Saharan Ergs, or sand dunes. Measuring around 22km by 5km, the Erg Chebbi dunes form an intriguing island in the otherwise flat and rocky desert that marks out the Moroccan portion of the Sahara Desert. The journey to the Sahara Desert from Marrakech is long and in the summer months, hot as well. However, the trip is more than worth it. Sleeping under the stars in traditional (and very basic) Berber camps, the rest of the world feels like a lifetime away. Added to this romanticism, you reach your camp by camel. I headed off for 24 hours in the Sahara desert and couldn't stop taking photos (which is not easy to do when on top of a camel!) Here are my favourites from the trip:
Approaching the dunes, you drive across rocky desert for several miles, before you see the magnificent Erg Chebbi dunes looming in the background.
The camel treks depart from a local kasbah. After arriving and a brief mint tea, I caught a quick glimpse of the camels having a feed.
Once we had our pre-trip briefing, we were off. Led by Said, our guide for the 2 days, we perched atop our mounts and headed off into the dunes for the sunset.
There are other people around, but the dunes are so vast that we only saw people in the distance. The silence in the Sahara is like nothing else. with views of seemingly endless dunes from every angle.
After trekking for a couple of hours, you reach your lodging for the night. Sahara accommodation is basic; a thin mattress on the sand and that's about it. The blankets that form the top of the tents have holes in them, meaning that you can star gaze while all tucked up in your sleeping bag.
An early start the following morning means mounting the camels in the dark so that you can reach a good vantage point for the sunrise. It may sound a little glib, but it is a genuinely spiritual experience.
This may look easy, but running up a sand dune is actually very hard to do!
The beasts of burden - our two camels, enjoy a rest while we watched the sunrise.
A well-earned breakfast back at the Kasbah before the journey back to Marrakech
3 Day Tour to Erg Chebbi from Marrakech from £300pp
It is possible to reach Erg Chebbi on a 3 day tour by 4wd from Marrakech. It is a long drive but along the way the scenery is spectacular and stops at Ait Benhaddou and the Todra Gorge are worth the journey alone.
7 Day trekking & 4wd Tour in the Middle Atlas and Sahara Desert from £725pp
For those with more time on their hands, this is the ultimate itinerary. In addition to the delights of Erg Chebbi there is time to trek in the Todra Gorge and Jbel Sarhro.