I had read a very good review about "Bivouac sous les Etoiles" on someone's personal website, and decided to contact Hassan by email. He was very nice and helpful, and so I booked a one night bivouac at his tent camp close to the Erg Chigaga. I paid a 20% advance to a bank account in France and we were all set.
We were two couples, with a 7 years old kid each. We were driving a rented 4x4. On our arrival to M'hamid in the early afternoon, Hassan was very friendly. We were assigned a young guide, whose name I am not sure I can spell correctly: Salah, and off we went with our 4x4, with some fresh oranges Hassan managed to get for us despite shops were closed at that time. A 2.5 hr drive took us to the camp, where we found 8 tents arranged in a semicircle, were guests are accomodated. Tents had a carpeted floor, clean mattresses, linen and blankets, and were very cosy and colored.
A larger tent was the dining room, another was the kitchen, and a last one hosted two western-style toilets and two showers, all with running water. The place was clean and sober, and the other 5 or 6 people in service there (cooks, waiters and so on) were nice as well. The only other guests were a young couple we barely saw, so it was like having all the camp for us.
On arrival at the camp we were served mint tea and sweets. Later Salah drove us closer to the dunes for a hike at sunset time. Dinner followed: a tasty soup (in abundance), and other good local food: cous cous with meat; oranges and sugar, tea. Dishes, cutlery and the like were clean, the food excellent, the people friendly. After dinner our hosts set up a bonfire and played and sung for us, then we played and sung some italian songs for them. It was a genuine exchange of cultures... When we eventually got to bed, we had a good sleep.
We were all up for sunrise and wondered at how beautiful the dune landscape was, quiet and grand in the early hour. Our camp was about a kilometer away from similar camps, so we could really feel the peace of the place. Breakfast followed, with a reasonable choice of food. Our guide then took us back to M'hamid through a different road. He stopped whenever we asked to take a photo or look at the landscape.
Overall I would recommend the "Bivouac sous les Etoiles" to anyone willing to make a sober and genuine desert experience.
Other suggestions: sweaters and jacket for the night and early morning, and plastic bags for your camera, to keep desert sand out (when the wind blows, sand will make it to every part of your camera bag...).
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