i-escape’s Co-Founder Nikki and Director of Operations Aidan share the story of their trip to a remote camp deep in the Sahara desert, and the incredible journey they took to get there:
We’re just back from an incredible adventure to a tented eco-camp in the Sahara Desert, travelling with friends and our 11-year-old daughter Poppy.
First, we flew into Marrakech’s stunning new Menara airport and then spent a night in a huge Princess-and-The-Pea four-poster bed at Dar Seven, in the heart of the exotic medina.
The next morning we were collected by our driver and comfortable 4WD Land Cruiser, arranged by Camp Adounia. A spectacular 4-hour drive over the Atlas Mountains led us to Kasbah Ellouze, a charming guesthouse near Ouarzazate, the half-way point to the desert. Nearby, we stopped off at the Ksar of Aït Benhaddou, the most visited Kasbah in Morocco and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The following morning, there was just enough time to admire the sun on the ancient architecture and red adobe towers of the Kasbah before it was time to prepare for the second stunning leg of the journey: 4 hours crossing dramatic lunar-type landscapes and the vast palm groves of the Draa Valley. The drive is a reason in itself for visiting the desert.
The tar road ends in M’Hamid and then it was off road in the 4WD for the final 40 minutes into the dunes of the Sahara desert. When we finally arrived at Camp Adounia, we found hand woven carpets, cushions, a glowing campfire and equally warm Berber hospitality.
There were 10 beautifully constructed guest tents, each with extremely comfortable beds, luxury linens, soft pillows and warm duvets for chilly desert nights.
As the sun went down, the camp began to glow like desert jewels and the stars in the night sky became impossibly bright. The silence and sense of being in the middle of nowhere was incredible.
The next couple of days were spent exploring the desert on foot…
And by more unusual forms of transport…
When the midday sun beat down, an excursion to the village of Ouled Driss to cool off in a hotel pool and visit a fascinating 400-year-old mud-brick Kasbah was especially welcome!
We drove back to Marrakech in one day. It took 9 hours (including a lunch stop), but our entertaining driver, Aziz, and the changing scenery made it fly by.
It takes a very special stay to make it into our list of favourite places, but this trip – both the spectacular journey to the Sahara and our stay at the extraordinary Camp Adounia – delivered one of our top 10 experiences ever.