Morocco :: Savoring the Sahara

[trip style = adventure]

Editor's Note :: Aside from a few travel lifestyle bits, Morocco’s taking center stage on Trip Styler this month.

Preparing and packing for my trip to Morocco, I knew December 10th, 2013 would be "desert day." No big deal, we were just going three hours off the grid into the Western Sahara. At 10am, I jumped into our 4x4 in Dakhla, a fishing and surf Mecca where the Atlantic meets the desert. When dreaming of dunes, one thing I hadn't considered was the bathroom situation until my guide Mohamed said "I've got toilet paper." Right. Of course there are no toilets in the desert. When nature called, well, nature was right there, and I was surrounded by solitude instead of souls. This only added to the remote allure of the day.

A series of paved highways run through the Sahara. Oftentimes the roads are only about 10 to 20 centimeters above the sand, so if you want to go off-roading, just turn right or left. Throughout the day, we off-roaded to lunch, to an oasis, to a beach and to dinner in a local family's Sahraoui tent. Beyond the pavement, a billion other routes exist, known only to locals. How our driver navigated without a map, a GPS or markers other than the sun and stars remains a mystery.

What desert day lacked in luxuries, it made up for in wonder. And isn't that why we travel?

Where the Sahara meets the Atlantic

Deep tire treads. Careful---certain water-soaked areas have a quicksand effect.


Lunch ahoy. As you can see, there's no sign; you just have to know where to go {a big benefit to traveling with locals from Heritage Tours}.

Oyster and fish are caught and prepared on the spot, then you eat

Shucking station

Ready to serve

Exploring before lunch in my layered "desert day" outfit: sandals, lightweight pants, tank, cashmere sweater and jean jacket. While this might seem like a lot of clothes, desert temperatures fluctuate significantly from dawn till dusk and I needed every layer I had.

Private beach

Private beach


Fish who fancy feet live in these rain-fed pools. Their mini nibbles cause you to break out in high-pitched shrieks. Here's a video of my friend Chadner's reaction to the fish pedi.

A vehicle sitting outside a family's Sahraoui tent we visited for dinner

Before stepping inside the tapestry-covered tent used to sleep, cook and lounge, we removed our shoes. Our hosts, who spent their days tending to their caravan of camels, were generous and gracious. While none of us spoke the same language, we communicated non-verbally with nods and smiles. As a frothy tea was served—a daily tradition in Morocco—we were welcomed with a heavy spritz of  cologne-scented sanitizer. A communal bowl of warm camel milk arrived next. I took a sip, and was encouraged to drink more of what tasted like tart Pinkberry without the sugar. The bowl continued to circulate as our host stepped out to cook lamb over hot rocks in a hole he dug into the sand. A grill kept the lamb from getting sandy. I don’t eat lamb, but that night I did, as well as rice cooked in lamb fat. Dessert was a palate-cleansing spread of fruit. If you ever have the chance to dine in the desert, take it, and save room for a local feast.

More Morocco
Stay: Dar al Hossoun in Taroudant

[photos by @tripstyler taken as a guest of Tourism Morocco]