Camp Adounia

Zagora Province, Morocco Book from Book from £260 per night

A tented eco-camp beyond the end of the road in the breathtaking Sahara Desert
This Sahara Desert camp delivered one of our top 10 experiences ever. Set in the far south of Morocco, it's best to do the 8+ hour drive from Marrakech over a couple of days, with their trusted drivers and comfortable 4WD Land Cruisers. The journey is a treat in itself: High Atlas mountain passes, vast plains, oases, majestic valleys, fortified villages: all stupefyingly beautiful. We travelled with kids, but people come to Camp Adounia as groups of friends, for yoga retreats or just to get away from it... and boy, can you do that here! Reach this secluded camp, with the last 40 minutes off-road, to be enveloped by distant shimmering hills and utter stillness, save for a light breeze. It stole our hearts.

On arrival, dust yourself down, sip mint tea and try to take it all in: this is a small artisan camp in a sheltered spot amongst the dunes. Canvas, carpets, cushions and a welcoming campfire are matched with a Berber hospitality of bygone centuries. Here is the antithesis of polluted skies. Massive sand dunes deliver what you'd expect from the Sahara setting and sitting high up on a camel, you can't help feel intrepid. When the midday sun beat down, an excursion to the village of Ouled Driss to cool off in a hotel pool and visit an ancient Kasbah was especially welcome. Parts of this experience were like going back in time, and we couldn't help reminding ourselves at every turn that we were really there. Biblical.

Highs

    • The extreme peace and magnificent star-filled skies
    • Stunning camel rides across the dunes at sunset
    • Comfortable glamping (proper beds, solar powered lights) with friendly Moroccan Berber hosts to look after you
    • The journey there, and the sense of remoteness and adventure
    • Not many other camps nearby - these dunes near M’hamid are lesser known than those near Merzouga

Lows

  • You're in the wrong place if you're an agoraphobic, as this is a land of vast open spaces
  • The desert can be a hostile environment: maintenance is a constant struggle so expect rustic rather than super-lux. Recent reports of cushions and lamps having seen better days supports this and price reflects remoteness.
  • In some seasons, flies can be an annoyance, but they don't bite
  • Tents, are beautifully furnished with comfy beds, but don't expect running water or air-con
  • It takes a day or two to get there, but that's part of the experience

Best time to go

October-November and February-March are the most comfortable times to visit: 30°C by day, 20° by night, clear days guaranteed. December-January is cooler (25° by day, quite cold at night). We don't recommend June-September, as daytime temperatures can get uncomfortably hot.

Our top tips

We recommend you do the outward journey from Marrakech in 2 days (overnight at Kasbah Ellouze, which is half-way to the desert and near the famous Ksar of Ait Ben Haddou), then spend 2-3 nights at the camp and return to Marrakech in a day. Make sure you pre-order any alcohol in advance as it has to be brought in specially to the camp. Take sunscreen and lip salve for the desert sun, and something warm to wear in the evenings (nights can get surprisingly cold from December-March).

Great for...

Eco
Family
Great Outdoors
  • Boutique desert camp
  • 10
  • Breakfast and dinner included
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Sandboards
Room:

Rooms

The 10 beautifully constructed canvas tents are arranged around a central campfire. A cut above basic camping, the sturdy double or twin beds are extremely comfortable with luxury linens, soft pillows and warm duvets to keep you cosy on chilly nights. Though furnishings are simple - there's a bedside table, solar-powered reading light and coat stand - the tents are spacious with good headroom and the décor touched our bohemian heartstrings with woollen cushions and woven carpets.

Each tent is equipped with a private ensuite bathroom area with buckets of water for hand-washing or a "Berber shower", plus bottled water for drinking. As there's no running water, it's a good idea to bring hand sanitizer gel or wet-wipes. Loos are wooden-seated but simple sand affairs which we soon got used to. A big part of the charm was the simplicity and the chance to switch off from the grid and get back to basics.

Features include:

  • Slippers
  • Toiletries

Eating

Considering the remote, desert location, we thought the standard of catering was very good. Fresh vegetables, fruit and meat are sourced from local suppliers and the chef works wonders turning the ingredients into a feast of Moroccan tagines or free-range 'camel burgers'. They can also cater well for those with special dietary requirements (just let them know in advance).

Meals are taken in the large communal tent. To kick off the day, breakfast is a spread of warm bread, Moroccan pancakes, yoghurt, eggs, juice, coffee and tea. Packed lunches can be provided to eat at camp or take off exploring. Our 3-course dinners, served at the table, included particularly tasty homemade soups, warming tagines and a sticky polenta cake for dessert.

Bottled water, mint tea and soft drinks are included in the price and available throughout the day. Alcohol - consisting of local red or white wine, or local beer - is brought in specially and must be ordered in advance. There's a solar-powered fridge on-site but don't expect drinks to be icy cold!

Features include:

  • Children's meals
  • Communal dining
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Clamber over majestic dunes for incredible views across the Saharan plains
  • Try your hand at sand-boarding down the steeper dunes by the camp
  • Take a sunset camel trek across the dunes - we loved it and found the seating surprisingly comfortable. Local herders bring the camels to the camp - it takes them 3 hours on foot, so arrange in advance
  • Huddle up around the campfire after dinner gazing up at the spectacular milky way while listening to nomadic drumming
  • The desert village of Ksar Ouled Driss, nr M'hamid is within an hour's drive and well worth a visit for the ancient mud brick Kasbah, now a fascinating small museum. A weekly souk is attended by nomads from miles around and if you're too hot, you can cool off in a nearby hotel pool
  • Visits to nomadic settlements can also be arranged

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Hiking
  • Private guided tours
  • Sand boarding
  • Shopping / markets
  • Traditional cultures

Kids

This can be a great adventure for older children, rather than babies or toddlers. Getting there gives one a real taste of travel and there's no shortage of space to roam around. Once there, the dunes are irresistable and camel rides a must. Staff were friendly and helpful whether it be to help them dress up in desert garb or showing them different beats on the bongo drums. Star gazing round the camp fire gave our children a lasting memory. Tents can be made up into twins or beds can be set up alongside parents if they get lonely.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

The tents can be made up as doubles, twins or triples. A family of 4-6 would sleep in 2 tents set up adjacent to each other

Baby equipment:

Baby cots, extra beds, bottle warming

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

You can request kid-friendly dishes and dining times are flexible

Kids Activities on site:

  • Sandboards (free to borrow), with dunes right next to the camp
  • superb camel treks; camels are brought to the camp by local guides
  • Drumming - the friendly local Berber staff will show them how
  • You're in a giant sand pit!

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Visits to nomadic families, women's co-op, ancient kasbahs
  • If it gets too hot, there's a nice hotel pool you can use near M'hamid

Families Should Know:

Remember that you will be driving for extended periods of time to get there and back, but with a private driver, you can make quick stops any time your kids need it. It can get very hot during the day from May to September and there is no running water. You're out in the sticks here, but surprisingly we were able to get mobile reception.

Distances:

  • Airport: 260km (4-5 hours) Ouarzazate
  • Medical clinic: 30km (40 minutes)
    Hospital: 100km (1.5 hours)
  • Shop: 30km (40 minutes)
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests

7/10
Room
8/10
Food
10/10
Service
9/10
Value
9/10
Overall

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Rates for Camp Adounia