Part one of this adventure can be found here.
Now you might imagine a night in the desert to be filled with all sort of creepy insects but in matter of fact we hardly came across any wildlife. The most we probably saw was a couple of cats, one called “Shakira”, and a dog that mostly kept himself to himself. I did however wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of something moving around on what sounded like the top of our tent, so somehow managing to put my mind at ease I fell back to sleep fairly quickly only to be left with a 6am surprise in the morning. To catch the sunrise over the sandy mountains we were awoken by the Berbers at around 5:45am, giving us enough time to wake up and climb a small sandy hill in order to get the best view possible. Getting ready I reached into my bag for my camera only to get the biggest surprise of the whole trip. Turns out the sound I was hearing during the night was a lizard rummaging around my bag helping himself to a packet of cookies. So as you could imagine a lizard brushing my hand and running out of my bag led me to do a small dance on the spot and proved a little shocking. Turns out we never saw our friend again, for I know he could still be in that tent, curled up in the corner waiting for his next packet of cookies.
After our reptile visit and realising that no one else was going to hike this early (Aussies don’t do early mornings apparently) we headed in the pointed direction of a hill just to the east of camp where we could watch the sunrise. Climbing slippery sand can be interesting and it was indeed; we felt like it took hours but eventually reached the sufficient height to see the sun. To a little disappointment it was quite hazy, but this 6AM venture was definitely worth it, just to overlook the waking desert miles of emptiness all around. It felt daunting but exhilarating that we had just spent the night in the middle of it all.
Upon our return we washed and packed the rest of our bits to reunite with our camels for a shorter 30min ride to a road, that seemed to materialise out of nothing, where we met with Mohammed and the rest of our minibus for the long drive back to Marrakech. Fortunately we managed to get better seats for the journey, which frankly we dreaded a little; the previous day’s long drive was not our most memorable activity to say the least. So to summarise, you may read various reviews about 2-day desert trips in Morocco, from very positive to very negative ones, but don’t rely on others too much, just ask yourself how determined, patient and bothered you are. Determined to reach the final destination and patient to endure the ride, but mostly bothered so that in the end your awesome end of the day in the Sahara is well worth the unpleasant travel.
On the way back the attractions are rather small and probably vary a lot depending on what excursions company you go with. For us it meant stopping in a small village for Moroccan green tea and a craftsmanship exhibition, including rugs, mirrors, jewels and furniture which you encounter so often in a nation so rich in their manual and artistic skills. We also stopped for lunch, same as the day before, in a place chosen by and convenient for the guides, which for us, vegetarians, was a bit problematic but not impossible. I will write more on food and what we’ve learnt through our experience in another post fairly soon, so be sure to keep an eye out for that.
Continuing with our journey into Marrakech it soon became a great mystery how you can get so tired simply by just sitting down in a car seat for most of the day, but I guess the heat here does its job. Finally getting back to our hotel in Ville Nouvelle of Marrakech around 7PM we had little intention of doing anything apart from resting while reflecting upon our experiences of the Atlas Mountains, Southern Morocco and Western Sahara. The evening seemed to hit us fast, leading to an early night after brief discussions about our plans for the following day when we’d come back to exploring Marrakech from where we left off…