”Travelling is like dreaming: the difference is that, on waking, not everyone remembers the journey, whereas everyone vividly preserves the memory of where they have stayed."
Edgar Allan Poe
I will never forget the first night I slept in a Morocco desert camp. It was magical and eerie at the same time, there were camels snoring, stars twinkling and I even kissed a cute boy while sitting on a sand dune in the dark. But to be quite honest, it wasn't the most comfortable.
There was very little sleeping and not thanks to the cute boy but to the snoring camels, us telling ghost stories and the fact that we had to pull our mattresses out onto the sand as the tents were too hot. While this sounds all kinds of romantic, watching your every move to not roll off your mattress so you don't end up looking like a schnitzel in the morning is not. And while it was an unforgettable experience I knew it wasn't the right kind of adventure to have with my dad when we went to Morocco together. Sleeping in a desert camp in the Sahara also wasn't an option as all Morocco desert tours from Marrakech take about an extra day of driving each way. Again not something suitable for my father (and my bum). While still an adventurer at heart, I knew I needed to find a suitable glamping option if I wanted to plan one of those magical Marrakech desert tours with him.
Scarabeo - The Luxury Desert Camp, Morocco
Luckily I came across the Scarabeo Camp in the Agafay desert, easily reachable as a day trip from Marrakech and an hour and a half from the city. While Agafay is a stone desert (so you won't find rolling sand dunes there), Scarabeo comes with all the Lawrence of Arabia romance you could want and wine (important for my dad and I as you may have gathered by now) so it truly deserves the title of a real ultimate luxury desert camp in Morocco.
Scarabeo's motto is 'Dusty luxury in Marrakech', a slogan I love and is a great stone desert equivalent to barefoot luxury (you definitely don't want to walk around barefoot in this desert!) and you spend your day wonderfully disconnected here. Needless to say, there is no wifi (and very little cellphone reception at that), no TV, and no electricity. But still, fit for a luxury desert camp in Morocco sleeping arrangements are lavish, to say the least - this ain't your regular Moroccan desert camp, this is glamping at its best! Even my father was impressed with the design of our tent which came with proper beds and sheets, romantic lanterns, and heaters (it is the desert after all!). The bathroom had a western toilet and something that resembled a shower, enough to rinse the remains of my camel encounter off.
There is not much to do but enjoy the vast landscape that surrounds you from one of their relaxing platforms, play Backgammon (or Bridge in my dad's case) and of course, go for a camel ride. They do have quad bikes as well but while I can see the fun in using one of those, I think romantic desert life needs a camel. Needless to say, I got a little too friendly with mine* but my dad did get a gold star for his #instagramdaddy skills (after he had messed up the complimentary wine set up at the La Mamounia in Marrakech the day before).
In true Moroccan luxury desert camp style, food is incredibly important at Scarabeo and something to write home about. Not only is it really really good but it also comes with the most stunning views for lunch and the aforementioned wine, not a given on average Morocco desert tours from Marrakech or even many Moroccan restaurants.
Once the sun set we made friends with some of the other guests around a big open fire and with even more wine before being led to one of the communal tents for dinner. Again we had a feast and you know that the food is good when even your father has nothing to complain about except that the chairs are too comfy and make getting up tricky.
It is after dinner though when the true magic of Scarbeo enfolds. When you carefully make your way back to your tent, lanterns only adding little drops of light to show you the way. It's when you look up and see a few stars popping up in between the clouds because that's when Scarabeo moves from being a 5-star luxury desert camp into a million-star hotel and after all, this is what you came for.
Staying at Scarabeo, luxury desert camp in Morocco
- You can either take day trips from Marrakech or stay overnight at Scarabeo, something I definitely recommend.
- Dress warmly during the winter months and wear some good shoes - it is a stone desert after all so you will be walking on gravel.
- One thing you need to remember especially when traveling with older people, smaller children or people with disabilities: you are in the desert already. While this is one of the luxury desert camps in Morocco there are no demarcated paths except for a few lanterns at night and the way to your tent can get long and rocky depending on which one you get.
- You can book transfers from and to Marrakech with your tent
- Embrace being cut off from wifi & co. Read a book, play a board game and talk. Or enjoy the beautiful silence.
- The stone desert camp in the Agafay desert is open all year round but they also offer customized camps and setups for special events.
*There were no camels harmed in taking this picture.
Disclaimer: My dad and I were invited to spend the night at Scarabeo and they also graciously picked up our bar/wine tab. Thank you!
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