Africa

Off Grid in the Sahara

Going off the grid isn't something that we get to do often - rarely is there a place to escape to in our modern society of social media and smartphones. Every once in a while an opportunity presents itself and the rewards for taking yourself offline and into the moment are certainly worthwhile!  I was lucky enough to spend a night in Sahara desert on my recent trip to Morocco. 

I walked the desert and slept under the stars like a true Berber nomad. The Berbers lived in north Africa long before the arrival of the Arabs, and their culture probably dates back more than 4,000 years, today the Berber people live a nomadic life wandering the Sahara desert. 

Getting There

To reach our camp in the Sahara desert we had to cross a large portion of the desert - the best way to get across the sweeping sand dunes is to ride camels. You can ride a camel for around 200 dirhams or you can do what I did and walk. My guide and I walked alongside the camels barefoot in the sand and then left the group to explore the sand dunes. It can be tough to walk in the desert and the sand switches between hard and soft but it can also be a free massage for your feet! 

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Berber Camp 

We reached the Berber camp after two hours of travel and stayed at a traditional camp alongside the camel drivers. The sleeping tents at the Berber desert camps are made of the traditional Saharan ‘haimas’ materials and were actually quite comfortable! There were beds with plenty of blankets and pillows for the cold night and there was a toilet facility on site. There was a separate dining-salon tent and outdoor space for relaxation and enjoyment of the camp-fire.

At the camp we enjoyed the sunset before tucking into a traditional Moroccan tagine. Afterwards we gathered around a campfire to enjoy some drumming from Obama and El Med Juba. 

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Fun In The Sahara 

The sahara desert is a giant play area! Let loose - jump, roll and leap! Run up and down the sand dunes until you are too tired! Here is a place to be free. 

Sleeping Under The Stars

Nothing can prepare you for the experience of sleeping under the stars in the Sahara desert. The night's are cold and harsh but more than worth it for the view of the night sky. Far from the light pollution of the city, the sky explodes with thousands of tiny stars and the constellations become clear. 
We may never know how many stars there are but astronomers estimate there are 100 thousand million in the Milky Way alone and countless galaxies beyond that. They glow with a light as icy cold as the desert at night but they are really on fire. And some are so far away that we are seeing light from a star that's now extinct.
It makes me dizzy to think of all this vastness and I always wonder if there's anything beyond these trillions of miles of galaxies. Are they all swept up into a tiny music box on the coffee table of a grande dame called Eve, who inhabits another cosmos of a trillion stars? It's impossible not to contemplate the universe with a view like this:

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Rocking The Kasbah in Rabat

I took a day trip to Rabat and although my visit was short but sweet - it was one of my favourite places in Morocco so far! What made it my favourite place was the Kasbah des Oudaias (Kasbah of the Udayas.) We were shown around by local guide Fadir, who had a knack for throwing his arm widely and talking with an intensity and passion that showed how much he loved the place.  He was more interested in the human side of things than the historical dates and it made for a lovely intimate tour.

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The Kasbah is a beautiful place to explore with its bright blue walls and winding streets. The air is surprisingly light and and cool due to the high walls and narrow streets. You could be forgiven for thinking that you've stepped into a quaint Italian or Greek village. If you follow the gentle slope downhill, you’ll find yourself at the waters edge. Little cafes dotted along the wall offer mint tea & sweet pastries filled bursting with nuts, dates & honey. Waves crash below & locals chat in a rhythmic mix of French & Arabic.

The final stop on our tour was the very top of the Kasbah where we found stunning views of the old city and one of the best sunsets I have ever seen. It was hard to leave the Kasbah as it was such magical place - I could see myself living there one day when I'm older. 

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Monkeying Around In The Atlas Mountains

The High Atlas, North Africa’s greatest mountain range, contains some of the most intriguing and beautiful regions of Morocco. A historical and physical barrier between the northern plains and the pre-Sahara, its Berber-populated valleys feel – and indeed are – very remote from the country’s mainstream or urban life.

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High in the Atlas Mountains you can find the largest population of Barbary macaque populations or Monkeys of Morocco. After witnessing the cruelty of monkeys in Marrakesh it was a welcome relief to see the monkeys playing in the wild. The monkey's are becoming desensitised to humans and are quite used to tourists visiting. Some have even come to rely on tourists for food which is not a good thing. Scientists have found that when tourists get too close to the monkeys in Morocco, it makes them more aggressive and also stops them engaging in grooming an essential behaviour for making bonds and alliances. Worse still, when tourists try to interact or touch the wild monkeys, it makes them really stressed. So when you visit the monkey's make sure to respect their space and not to feed them anything you shouldn't. 


It was a wonderful experience to watch them in their natural habitat and after 2000 pictures we left to explore the rest of the beautiful mountains.