My trip to Marrakech has been an absolute dream. It truly was an experience I will cherish forever. Put into a jar and conserve it for the rest of the time. What made the travel so incomparable to every other vacation I have done before, was our one-night stay at the Scarabeo Camp in the Agafay desert near Marrakech.
For years I’ve been saying that one of my biggest travel goals is to spend a night in the desert. I have heard friends talk about their trips to the endless lands of sand and dunes and recall in awe how unfathomable it was. And even though the Agafay desert is not made up of endless amounts of sand but classified as a stone desert, the night at the camp was absolutely magical. Dotted amongst the stunning landscape, the spacious and comfortable tents decorated with unique sourced pieces and locally crafted artwork form a harmonious whole with their surroundings.
Glamping in the Moroccan Desert
I must admit I am not the biggest fan of camping. I find sleeping on the floor incredibly uncomfortable and do not like the claustrophobic feeling of being forced to sleep in a tiny tent. When we entered our tent at the Scarabeo Camp, however, my fear instantly vanished. It did not only vanish but was replaced with a feeling of utter gratitude and awe.
Sleeping in the Scarabeo Camp is what we nowadays refer to as Glamping. It is sleeping in a huge tent that resembles more a beautiful hotel room than what we are typically used to when talking about camping. It is outfitted with an incredibly comfortable huge bed in the middle, a wardrobe, a desk to write on and a stove to heat during the cold winter nights. There also is a separate bathroom tent equipped with a shower, toilet and sink with mirror. Water is precious, though, and you only get a limited amount of water per tent to use while showering and washing your hands. The interior design, artwork, and layout of the camp combine to form unique feeling, a place to completely unwind and disconnect from everyday life.
At the camp you can engage in various activities, such as riding a camel, driving a quad and getting a massage in one of their spa tents. We, unfortunately, forgot to book our experience in advance so if you want to do any of those things, make sure to book it before arrival as they need to arrange it ahead of time. My friend and I didn’t care too much, though, as we decided to simply take it slow, enjoy the sun, walk around the desert and – of course – take some photographs.
Good to know:
- Location: 35 kilometers from Marrakech, in the stone desert of Agafay
- Hotel: 15 tents for accommodation: 8 Double Suites, 2 Twin Suites and 5 Family Suites (each 50m2)
- Food: Fresh bread is baked daily in a small traditional earthen oven
- Activities: It is important to book optional activities in advance for organizational reasons and to ensure availability
- Transfer: The camp offers a pick-up service, which must be scheduled via the booking. The driver will pick you up at your location and take you back after your stay for around 500 MAD
- Price: Rates start at about $295 per night per double, including breakfast and dinner (find details here)
Dining like Nomads
Dinner and breakfast at the Scarabeo Camp were served in the open communal area consisting of three big tents and an alfresco space with cushions, tables, and comfortable chairs. For breakfast, they served a buffet with typical Moroccan dishes, such as fresh fruit, the most delicious orange juice, freshly made flatbread and eggs. You could help yourself and enjoy your meal overlooking the vastness of the desert, watching people ride camels in the distance.
The dinner we had at the Scarabeo Camp was an experience that I cannot even put into words. At eight in the evening, we were asked to slowly gather at the communal area, where a musician sang gorgeous songs and we watched the sunset in the group. You did not have to speak to anyone and could just sit down somewhere and enjoy the quiet. There were people reading on the cushions. Others were walking around taking pictures. Some were drinking tea by the fire and my friend and I simply sat there, taking it all in. Once dinner was ready each group was assigned a table in one of the tents because it gets quite cold as soon as the sun sets and they want to make sure to provide you with the most comfortable dining experience as possible. We got served traditional Moroccan salads, a mezze platter and Tajine for the main course. The singer was still singing romantic songs and playing on his guitar. And while I was sitting there, eating in silence, watching the others do the same, I felt such a strong feeling of connection and gratitude that I started crying.
After dinner we all went outside and gathered around the open fire, watching the stars, drinking tea and talking about life. I have never in my life experienced a night sky like this. We could see the milky way move – or rather, feel the world rotate. I put my head back and lay there, contemplating life and being so grateful for having the ability to experience a place as magical as the desert.
Funny story: When we wanted to go to sleep at night, we had a frog in our tent. My friend quickly ran out to get a member of the staff to help us and they kindly got rid of it and brought it outside the tent. It was a bit of a scare but that’s life in nature, eh!
Watching the sunrise at Scarabeo Camp in Marrakech
Even though nothing ever comes close to the night sky for me, witnessing the sunrise at Scarabeo Camp was an out of this world experience. We got up at around six because we heard voices outside and decided to brave the cold and step outside to see the sunrise. And it did not disappoint. We walked towards the communal area and saw all the others do so too. There, we sat down in silence, witnessing the sun make its way over the vastness of the desert, rising above the tents and dipping everything in lilac, orange and finally golden light.
* Disclaimer: We were invited to stay at the Scarabeo Camp Marrakech for review. All opinion expressed in this post is, however, as always 100% my own. Thank you so much for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.