I’m heading to a couple of places this summer but the one I’m most excited for is a trip with a company called Beyond Adventure to an uninhabited island in the Swedish Archipelago ( I’ll write a blog post on it as soon as I am back!) and it reminded me of the first trip this company ran, which was a ‘ gathering of like minded individuals in the Sahara’ aka a festival in the desert. As you do. And no, this isn’t a sponsored post, my friend set up the company last year and I was lucky enough to be part of a small group of people that went to the very first of what I’m sure will be many more festivals to come in the desert.
I arrived a day earlier with two friends and we spent the afternoon wandering around the Souks (Moroccan markets), I’m not embarrassed to admit it was terrifying. Not only because we were harassed more than I ever have been before – and I’ve travelled to many corners of this wonderful earth – but because it is a complex maze of identical winding streets that after an hour of strolling around them you quickly realise you are in fact, lost.
We met the rest of the crew who were joining the festival and all set off in a convoy of 4×4’s for the first leg of the journey to the desert. We left the sweaty streets of Morocco behind and a couple of hours in, I hopped out of the jeep and my flip flops sank into snow. Yes, SNOW. We were in the middle of crossing the Atlas mountains and had to stop for a selfie.
After a solid 8 hours of driving we arrived at our hotel for the evening and waited for the rest of the cars to arrive before settling down for a buffet meal and an evening of dancing and meeting new people.
Despite feeling groggy the next morning from too many gin and tonics, we set off bright and early to reach the Sahara. As the sun began to set that day we arrived at the edge of the desert and swapped the jeep for a camel. I HATE riding any time of animal, I hate not being able to control what they are doing – and a camel was no different. What was supposed to be an enjoyable, peaceful, slightly surreal hour travelling through an empty desert for me was filled with sheer panic that the camel would decide to throw me off its hump face first into the sand. Thankfully that didn’t happen and we were met by a chorus of singing and dancing by a local tribe. The camp they had built completely exceeded my expectations – it was beautiful. Our tent was the most luxurious I have ever stayed in complete with rugs and BEDS. That evening we gathered around the camp fire as a local musician from London played a soulful set that was followed by a heavier DRUM AND BASS rave in a tent. Nothing could quite beat the feeling of stumbling out of the tent and looking up to see the sky sprinkled with stars as I wandered back to my tent.
I’m not a fan of camping, but after a delicious buffet breakfast, I was able to use an actual toilet and a real shower before setting about my best Saturday to date. The team behind the adventure trip had set up games across the camp site, in the afternoon we picked up some sandboards and tried our hand at zipping down the sand dunes. I had tried it before in South Africa so managed to slide down the hill without tumbling, but my friend Rosie was another story!
As the sun started to set, a group of us grabbed some beers and started a hike up the tallest sand dune, which put all my workouts prior to the trip to shame – I was exhausted 5 minutes in to the trip. Despite reaching the top of the dune a sweaty, panting mess, I immediately forgot how I felt when I looked up at the incredible views before us. After we had all made it to the top, we sat in a line along the top of the Dune, clinked beer bottles and sat back to appreciate just how incredible the entire experience was as the sun slipped underneath the horizon.
Just as quickly as the trip started, it ended. We packed up our bags the next morning and started the long (15 hour journey) back to Marrakech. I had decided to stay on in Marrakech with a few friends as it was my birthday, and I spent the day sunbathing, quadbiking, and eating at one of the most lavish restaurants I have ever visited, before partying the night away in a club inside my hotel ( but not before being chased through the streets of Morocco by a dwarf, who eventually caught up with me – mental note: work on my sprints – but that’s a story for another time.
Have any of my readers been to Morocco or the Sahara desert before? Have you been to any remote festivals?