Morocco, Travel companies and tours

Moroccan magic: Sahara camel rides and crazy donkeys

I spent two nights in the Sahara desert, on a tour with Travel Talk. Our incredible guide Abdoul, made it a trip to remember. After an amazing first day, which you can find more about here, we had breakfast, then set off for our next camp.

Sign showing the last stop before Timbuktu in the Sahara

We made a stop along the way, at a ceramic and pottery place. The village it is in was the last stop as the camel caravans made their way to Timbuktu. Abdoul told us the camels would be so exhausted by the time they got there, that they would sell their camels and purchase new ones for the trek back.

Pottery lessons in the Sahara

The man that ran the pottery shop gave us a demonstration of how to mould the clay. He lowered himself into a hole in the ground, where there is a pedal to turn. One of our group got to try, much to everyone’s amusement – clay flying everywhere, and a very wonky end product.

Sahara pottery before they are fired and glazed

We had time to look at all their amazing creations. Forever conscious of having to eventually ship things home, I bought three tiny ramekins in different colours, which I love. He explained how they get the colours of the paints; they are famous for their olive green, made from mixing magnesium, cooper, and silver. The mint green comes from mint leaves, the deep blue from indigo, yellow from saffron, and red from henna.

Waving goodbye to all the children that clustered around to watch these strange visitors, we set off for our next campsite. Greeted by Hanafay, the very enthusiastic donkey, we dropped our bags, and prepared for our camel ride.

Hanafay - the Sahara camp donkey

If you’ve never ridden a camel before, it’s like riding a really bad case of wind. They are forever ruminating, regurgitating last week’s dinner, hot steam leaking out everywhere. Mine was continually making a slow, deep, burping noise. So attractive.

My camel taking a well-deserved rest

Depending on where their hump is, they can be a dream to ride, or really uncomfortable. Abdoul advised the boys to ride side saddle “if you ever dream of having children”. In April, it was already 30 degrees during the day when we were out. I couldn’t imagine doing this in the 50 degree heat of summer. We wandered for about two hours, and developed a huge appreciation for the strength and resilience of these creatures.

Riding camels in the Sahara

Our second camp was even more glamorous than the first. Abdoul pointed out we had showers. After a hot day in the sun, it was greatly appreciated. Some girls complained they didn’t get to wash their hair…in the middle of the desert…you can’t please everyone. I got out of the shower to find I was face to face with Hanafay; that’s an experience you don’t forget in a hurry! Naked except for a towel, stared down by a donkey.

The camp manager, Batman, said he sometimes rides Hanafay into the nearby town. He was about six foot six, so I have no idea how that works. He was such a character, and made us an incredible dinner, of tagine, followed by the juiciest melon for dessert I’ve ever had.

We set up camp to watch another sunset, which was cheered along by Hanafay’s eeeeorrrs in the background. I’ve never seen more stars in the sky than I did in the Sahara. Shooting stars galore, I had plenty of opportunities to make wishes. It was another perfect end to another magical day. Morocco never ceased to amaze. I can’t recommend enough how amazing the Adventure Morocco tour with Travel Talk is.

Silhouettes at sunset in the Sahara


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