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How are the tent camps organized?

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Lisse, The...
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How are the tent camps organized?

Three years ago we stayed at a tent camp in the Wahibi desert in Oman. This was a great experience. Now we would like to stay at one of the Erg Chebbi desert camps for two nights. But we are wondering how things are organized here. Does every tour group and hotel have their own group of tents far away from the others (like in Oman) or do they all stick together? Are the tents really inside the dunes or at the edge of the dunes (near the hotels). Thanks for your help.

Perth, Australia
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1. Re: How are the tent camps organized?

I just returned from 2 nights in the dunes of the Sahara, departing from Merzouga. We organised it all by ourselves when we got to Merzouga, deciding not to go for the more expensive option of an organised tour from Marrakesh or Fes and it was very simple to arrange.

We arrived in Merzouga at 9pm after taking the all day Supratours bus from Marrakesh and had booked only that night of accommodation. Every Riad/hotel there has a connection to a tour in the desert and will arrange it for you on arrival. We slept that night in airconditioned comfort and woke to an amazing breakfast. The desert trips start in the evening at 6pm, so we had all day to relax and experience Merzouga. The town of Merzouga and the accommodations are at the edge of the dunes, as in you can see them in distance, but the tours take you further into the dunes so you are surrounded.

If you do one night in the desert you will take a camel 2 hours to the middle of the dunes and the berber tents are set up to the side of 2 of the larger dunes. Each tour/guide has an allocated place, which will contain 2 or more tents (depending on their popularity I guess) and all the tents are grouped near each other. My tent was at the end of the group and we saw a few more tourists arrive at the camp next to us. As each camp is "fenced" off, you are fairly segregated from other groups and we did not notice their presence which was about 100m away. In saying this I think our guide/tour was a smaller one and we were the only 2 ppl staying in our section for the night so we did not have to share the experience with others. I guess if there are other people staying at your riad and take the tour on the same night you will be taken out together as a group. We attempted to sleep outside but failed due to a huge dust storm, so we resorted to sleeping in the tent/bivouac (little tent/hut made with sticks and blankets- very sturdy and mattress and sheet provided).

If you are good with google maps you can put the satellite image up and put these coordinates in the search bar to see a satellite image of the camp. This may help you to have a better idea of the set up

31.10299,-3.960915

Our second night was in a nomad camp with a local family. These are scattered around the desert and not located in the dunes themselves. They are mostly seem separated and for us was a very isolated experience, we did not see any other tourists this day. We sheltered in their little mud hut most of the day as we had yet another dust storm but were able to sleep outside at night as the weather was perfect. There was a tent provided here which was a less sturdy structure than the bivouac from the previous night but would still serve it's function if we required shelter.

I hope this helps, it was such a fantastic experience

Lisse, The...
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2. Re: How are the tent camps organized?

Dear SamBel83,

Thanks for your reply to my question. We made a decision to stay in Merzouga for 3 nights. Because we stayed in the desert before (Wahiba desert in Oman) we decided to stay at the hotel this time. The whole camp business looks a lot more commercialized than it was in Oman. We will try to make a day trip into the sand dunes from our hotel (which is right at the edge of the highest dunes). Hopefully it will not be too hot at daytime mid October. Also thanks for the GPS data. I had a look at Google maps and could clearly see the camps.

Many thanks again, CorTT

Telegraph Point...
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3. Re: How are the tent camps organized?

Thanks for those co-ordinates. I'm using the new GoogleMaps version that they released sort-of recently and it was super easy to see the camp arrangements.

Vancouver, Canada
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4. Re: How are the tent camps organized?

Thanks for the post. We will be in Merzouga in early June for 2 or 3 nights. We have already booked our hotel. The second night we are planning a night in a in a camp. Would you suggest booking though our hotel or separately? My wife is very social and would prefer to be in a larger group.

Thank you.

Telegraph Point...
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5. Re: How are the tent camps organized?

You can be social 364 days of the year, but getting out into the desert in a small group where you can talk to your guide and hear about life in the desert is something you'll never do again. Forget the hotel. Stay somewhere more intimate. Once you get out into the oasis camp all the tour groups use the same few sites so you'll meet others then.

Perth, Australia
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6. Re: How are the tent camps organized?

I think go through your hotel. Send them an email to check what they can offer. Most of them offer similar experiences for a similar cost, if there is something that you want to add on it can usually be done for you. You have flexibility if booking with your stay as they are then usually willing to hold onto your extra luggage (that you don't want to take into the desert) and help you out with showering and a nap when you return.

I feel that group size is the luck of the draw no matter who you book with. We had just my partner and I and as Michelle_0101 stated this make for a great experience as you can strike up a great relationship with your guide and/or family if you stay with one. The desert is such a fantastic experience regardless of your group size and that will be a very small factor on your trip.

Katonah, NY
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7. Re: How are the tent camps organized?

Just returned from Morocco yesterday. We stayed at Ali and Sara's Desert Palace. See reviews in Erg Chebbi specialty lodging. It was amazing. We didn't stay in Merzouga at all. We booked via email with Sara. Worth every penny, great comfort, food and experience. We drove from Fes, were met by Ali in Rissani who drove the half hour with us to Merzouga. Don't bother staying in a hotel in Merzouga, just go straight to desert. All the camps except one tiny one were at the edge of,the dunes. When you get there you will understand why. A must do n everyone's bucket list.

8. Re: How are the tent camps organized?

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Kensington
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9. Re: How are the tent camps organized?

So, I am not clear on the stay at Ali and Sara's. Does the stay involve a Camel ride or do you just drive to the camp in the desert?

10. Re: How are the tent camps organized?

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