Arriving in a new location after dark is never a good idea.
Getting off the bus, we were immediately solicited by locals, “I have a place for you!”, “do you need a room?”, “where are you staying?”
After politely declining a
few many times and tired of the relentless in your face bombardment, Ginette snapped back, “Look, LEAVE ME ALONE, I already have a reservation.”
“No worries, I’m a Berber!” one replied as if that explained his rude behaviour.
It turns out that there are no taxis in the tiny town of Merzouga, Morocco. And, this same group of locals are the ones you have to befriend, and who for 100 dirhams, will drive you the 5-minute car ride to your hotel.
“Right, more than the cost of the three-hour bus ride to get here!”
The problem was, we didn’t know how to reach our accommodation, a Kashba located in the nearby village. Looking into the darkness beyond the dimly lit street, we realised that walking was not an option.
Eventually, Mohammed (a hero in our books) offered to place a call for us, and ten minutes later we were picked up by the hotel’s proprietor in his 4 x 4.
As soon as we stepped into the comfort of the hotel, the stress of our arrival was left behind.
“Welcome, welcome! You must be hungry?” He suggested as we settled in. “Have dinner, and we can complete the check-in papers tomorrow.” — there are benefits to travelling in the off season.
The Hotel Kashba Mohayut website doesn’t do this place justice, it’s wonderful, and the hospitality just as fabulous. Our suite was comfortable and stylishly decorated in South Moroccan architecture. During the last four months, we’ve stayed in various degree of comfort and decided to stay a few extra days to enjoy the luxury.The property is located on the fringe of L’Erg Chebbi, steps away from the dunes of Merzouga. Despite its narrow size, only 40 km long and 5 km wide, the dunes are massive and a magnificent golden colour. The landscape changing to a gorgeous orange at sunset.Late one afternoon, while taking pictures, we met a young 22-year-old Berber.
“This is my school,” he told us in perfect English. Aside from his native Berber and Arabic, he’s also fluent in Italian, Spanish, German, French, and a bit of Polish, languages that he’s learned interacting with tourists.
The second day of our visit, after breakfast we joined another couple and mounted camels for an hour and a half trek in the heart of the dunes.Where a Nomadic camp is set up, staged to accommodate tourists who wish to experience a night in the desert but in the comfort of a ‘real’ bed.
After a tasty lunch of a Berber omelette, Moroccan salad and the ever present pot of mint tea, the four of us headed out for a walk in the desert landscape leaving footprints in the immense swells of windswept sand.From the top of the highest dune, we could see the flat plains in the middle ground, and the blue-gray mountains bordering Algeria in the distance.The evening grew cold as the sun set, and we retreated inside for a delicious dinner of Moroccan soup and chicken tagine under a large Berber tent. Later as the night immersed the campsite in darkness, we sat around the campfire and were entertained by local musicians playing regional folkloric music.
Later still, we ventured out into the sand and gazed at the incredible display of stars in the desert sky.
In our Berber tent, we cuddled under the weight of six thick blankets, slowly warming up in the chilly night air and getting a peaceful nights sleep.
Our guide woke us before sunrise, and although it was pretty, we found the Sunset far more spectacular and quite a bit warmer. Back on our camels, we returned to the Kasbah to freshen up before breakfast. A parting shot of Gordon saying farewell to his camel.If you ever want to kick back and go for a walk in the sand, a memorable Mohayut Sahara experience is for you.