Agafay Desert - Morocco
Before I even knew where I was going to be in Morocco, whether it was spending time up north in Fez or Chefchaouen, or going south to Marrakesh--regardless of where I was, or how many days I was going to be in the country, if there was one thing I knew for certain, it was that I was going to camp in the desert.
The most popular place to do desert glamping in Morocco would be Merzouga, deep in the Sahara Desert. But it's a 9-12 hour train and an even longer drive from Marrakesh. Not to mention they discontinued the overnight train that will take you there. Being on a tighter time schedule, I decided I needed to look for alternatives that would fit into the five days we spend in Morocco. Lo and behold, Scarabeo Camp came along and swooped me off my feet. Scarabeo offers the same glamping experience in the Agafay Stone Desert as you would out in Merzouga for a great price and a quick drive that's just an hour outside of Marrakesh. We spent a little more time in Scarabeo than average, but here's a little rundown of what 24 hours in the desert can look like.
Checking into the campsite varies from noon onward depending on what package you buy. Transportation is offered at additional costs (I highly recommend taking the side car!), and we had the camp pick us up from Marrakesh at 11AM. Arriving a little after noon, we were greeted with sweet Moroccan mint tea and taken to the main tent--the equivalent of a hotel lobby area.
The artifacts and old Moroccan books all throughout the lounge area are to die for, we spent over an hour just looking at everything, from the cameras to the binoculars, to the vintage suitcases.
Around 1:00PM, we were given our tent, which came with a king size bed and a single bed that serves as a couch. The furniture within the room was all Moroccan style, from the rugs to the footstools. On the side of our tent was our "bathroom" that had a Western toilet and a cold shower, which was all incredibly clean. Needless to say, we were obsessed!
THE FOOD - 2:00 PM--LUNCH
Typical check in time is past 3:00PM, but we wanted to spend more time at Scarabeo so we came early and bought lunch there, which included traditional Moroccan cuisine in the form of couscous, falafael, lentils, grape leaves, freshly baked bread, and cucumber tomato salad. We were offered wine as well, and fresh squeezed carrot or cucumber juice.
THE DESERT - 3:00PM--EXPLORING THE DESERT
THE CAMELS - 5:00PM--CAMEL RIDES
I'm a stickler when it comes to the treatment and exploitation of animals in exchange for tourism and profit, especially exotic animals in other countries. But these camels were certainly treated with care by their owner. He only talked to them to get them to sit and stand rather than using a stick and tugging roughly at them. Also, the camels would roll around in the sand and were very active, rather than seeming excessively tired or forced. We took the camels around the camp and through the sand dunes and stone desert and then into the sunset. Who needs an Arabian Prince when we have Samel and Fatihad?! They were SOOO cute!
STAR GAZING - 7:00 PM--DINNER & STAR GAZING
Around 7PM, everyone in the camp began to slow down with whatever other activities they decided to do. We certainly wanted to ride camels, but there were also ATV's available, yoga classes, massage therapy sessions, and even all day excursions to Atlas Mountain or Mogador, that will bring you back in time for dinner. Everyone gathers once the sun begins to set, and it's a great opportunity to talk to and spend time with everyone else that booked a tent. We met many Europeans who came from Switzerland, Germany, and France, and all over the world who wanted the same desert camping experience as us.
As I was drinking my Moroccan mint tea, waiting for the sun to set and staring at the undulating sand dunes of the desert, I realized that my dreams had come true. Camping under the stars in Agafay is a feeling like no other. "I know nothing with certainty, but the sight of the stars always makes me dream."
TIPS & ADVICE
1. CAPACITY--When I tried booking a tent, the camp site was originally booked to capacity, so book as soon as you know you're making your way out to Marrakesh. I found that it was easier to e-mail them directly rather than filling out their form on their website.
2. ELECTRICITY--There's no outlets or chargers at Scarabeo, or service, so you're basically off the grid. If you do need to charge your phone, the office has a charger and they'll plug your phone in for you for as long as you want. However, I recommend bringing a portable charger if you wanted to use it for photos.
3. DINNER--If the camp is full to capacity, you can actually still come onto the campsite during the day and enjoy dinner and star gaze at night. I'm not entirely sure how the pricing goes, but it's better than nothing if you couldn't get a tent.
Phone Number: +212 (0)662 800 823 / +212 (0)662 800 874