Can you have a holiday — and possibly even the time of your life — in a place where there’s nothing? That’s the question of many people when they think about the vast expanses of desert such as the mighty Sahara in Africa. Covering 3.5 million square miles (about the same size as the United States), the Sahara is the largest hot desert in the world.
In the desert there are no beaches or theme parks, no restaurants or cafes of any kind — nor practically anything at all. So what’s the point of packing up and heading off on your holidays to a barren, desolate place of no apparent luxury whatsoever? Isn’t the whole point of going away to indulge and treat yourself?
The desert, as it turns out, is far from what it seems. It is a magical, spellbinding place that does not easily give up its charms. But linger in the silence and isolation of towering, rolling sand dunes, camels, desert nomads and the occasional oasis and you might just discover the timeless allure of the searing sands.
Many people who have not even set foot in a desert have been captivated by such dreamy cinematic wonders as the opening scenes of “the English Patient” — as a World War II plane bearing the main characters glides across the rippling dunes of the majestic Sahara. There is no place on Earth quite like the mesmerising desert.
The Sahara Desert covers all of northern Africa and down to the central areas of the great continent. It spans nine countries: Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Sudan and Tunisia. These dazzling desertscapes are so far removed from our ordinary, modern, high-tech lives that they are an instant refreshment and provide the perfect opportunity to digitally detox — chances are, you won’t get a phone signal.
The Moroccan parts of the Sahara Desert offer the first-time visitor one of the most accessible and affordable experiences, and in fact Morocco desert tours can be done in as little as two days to the nearest dunes with an overnight in the desert. Those who fancy a longer spell in the African desert regions can take in the otherworldly visit at their leisure as they experience the unique glory of nomadic desert life, exploring the dunes by camel and dining at a luxury bivouac under a star-studded sky.
Morocco Desert Adventures
For those who embark on Morocco desert tours, a whole world of adventure awaits. Just clambering up a knotty camel is an unusual thrill in itself, along with staying seated as the lanky beast of burden wobbles about. It’s a privilege to view the world from such a lofty position and, as you gaze out across the great, undulating piles of sands that for centuries have blown across these arid regions, you’ll feel a sense of belonging you may have never encountered before.
And it’s not all about camels and trekking either. Out in the Sahara, there’s lots to do. If motors are more your thing, you can rent a quad bike or travel with a local expert dunes driver in a larger vehicle (4x4s are ideal for the challenging terrain) and go your own way. You might also like to try your hand at sand surfing — it’s like tobogganing, but without the snow, and sand/snow boards are available for rent at plenty of places around the desert areas. You can even live like the locals and enjoy the desert spa. So-called “sand-bathing” involves burying yourself up to the neck in the hot sands, and it’s become something of a must-do.
Once the shimmering spell of the Moroccan Sahara descends over you, the enticing lure of the desert will be too much to resist and you’ll soon find yourself coming back for more.