Tenting in the Moroccan desert near Marrakech has been on my bucket list for years. I have visited Morocco twice in the past, and I finally got to fulfill my wish in February, yes, blissfully unaware of the coming pandemic. My dear interior designer friend and co-traveler Sandra Barron, of Sandra Barron Interiors, and I arranged our Magical Morocco Girl Trip adventure for February 8 through 16 to enjoy all that Marrakech could offer our intrepid group of seven women – fabulous lush accommodations at Maison28 Marrakech, fine local food, exclusive shopping, and most of all, the wonderful, warm Moroccan people.
Sandra and I planned our overnight tenting trip especially for Valentine’s Day, since we would all be missing our sweethearts back home (and my anniversary).
We left the old city in Marrakech and soon found ourselves driving through a desert of rocks, versus the expected sand, with the gorgeous Altas mountains ever present in the distance. In only 45 minutes we arrived at Terre des Etoiles, the land of stars, our much-anticipated desert lodge.
Behind this unassuming entrance lay the most engaging, simply stunning oasis featuring 18 glamping tents, an organic garden, horses, camels, peacocks, bunnies, goats, and a precious donkey who carried our luggage to our assigned accommodations.
Supplied with traditional mint tea, our group waited for our tents to be readied in to this large, cool canopied area for lounging and dining to take in the sights. The temperature was in the low 70s and just perfect.
Within view was this enticing conversation area…
And a huge fire pit, dug low into the dirt, that we would crowd into that evening after dinner with a drink to share laughs from our full and unexpected day.
Soon a guide arrived to show off the sights in a walking tour around camp, including the dramatic domed yoga venue, the cute-as-can-be baby camels, the all-important bar, and the totally unexpected glistening pool.
Far off in the distance, appearing like a mirage, these perfectly-poised star-viewing hot red chairs arose from the low hills. Little did we know at this point in the bright, sun-shiny day how utterly perfect this surprise outdoor living room would be until later this day.
Post tour, Sandra and I were lead to this cozy double room with two beds and a full bath, featuring a canopied stone porch with a postcard view of the desert. Our beds were perfectly appointed with toasty handmade woolen blankets to snuggle into during the cold desert night. Though all of our tents were lovely, we spent little time inside, opting for the fresh air and our own company. We were a lively group!
No desert tenting adventure in the Moroccan desert can be complete without the requisite camel ride off into the sunset. Ours was no exception, discovering that our caravan would depart camp an hour before dark with the most entertaining and patient camel herders.
Did I have any reservations about my first camel ride? Most certainly. I could only envision snarly, spitting creatures who threw people off like flies. A pleasant surprise awaited upon meeting our beasts. Not only were they beautifully attired in colorful, traditional camel wear, the ladies were tolerant, sure-footed, and never once spit. The camel behind mine did take a liking to my tiny black crossbody bag, I noticed. Girls will be girls.
That’s me below, number three in line.
Onboarding a camel is basically a “hold on for your life” moment. (Photo by Sandra Barron.) No stirrups on a camel. During the first 100 feet I was full of anxiety, until it was quite clear the camels knew exactly what they were doing and then I got all over it and took out my phone to shoot photos.
During our hour walk the sun went from low in the sky, to lower still, to just above the horizon. It was absolutely breathtaking.
As darkness descended, we all headed up to the dinner tent, beautifully lit, joining fellow groups of guests, including families from France with small children.
Dinner, like all of our meals, was slow, traditional, and delicious! The bar after dinner was wonderful. A dramatic, dreamy view, serving up everyone’s desired libation in the calming, balmy night air.
Drink in hand, we sauntered over to join other groups surrounding the fire pit in the chilly air, cozy in the provided soft blankets. There, each of us reflected upon a special day with new forever travel friends.
Walking away from the fire, the stars twinkled brilliantly, and the pervasive silence was startling yet so calming.
Post-breakfast departure was truly sad. I wished we were staying another day or two. Just to sit outside our tent, mint tea in hand, to gaze at the horizon and dream. When Sandra and I (mostly Sandra) planned this desert portion of our trip, we both felt a bit nervous because we know nothing about Terre des Etoiles from our Morocco-traveling friends. But clearly everything and everyone at this desert oasis camp was marvelous. Booking was easy, and every promise, and more, was fulfilled!
And now, as I end this post, I can hear many of my friends saying out loud, “But what about the shopping! What about the Moroccan cooking class! What about your accommodations at Maison 28!” Never fear, stay tuned for more from Marrakech and my Morocco-inspired home, coming soon!
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