Sunsets are a magical everyday occurrence but sadly these days not everyone is able to savour the spectacle, perhaps due to weather, daily chores and life’s commitments. As a result we have always tried to enjoy this special time of day during our trips and travels, wherever we are, and especially when we have a great place to view sundown. For our overnight stay in the Sahara desert, our first time ever being surrounded by these mesmerising sandy dunes, we had agreed with Hafid, our host, to have dinner after nightfall to make sure we would be able to take in every minute of the sunset.
Finding a Spot on Top of the Dunes
After a few hours of fun on the sand board, especially for Jerome, we returned to our tent to dust off and pick up some warmer clothes, the temperatures had already dropped considerably and we did not want to be cold while watching the sunset. Jerome had stayed behind on the big dune with the sand board and still had not tired of racing down only to climb back to the top again… Shortly after, Chris and I sat down on the top of the highest dune in the area. The panoramic views were truly incredible over the vast desert surrounding us, and out to the mountain range we had crossed that morning on our drive to Mhamid.
The sun was already low, turning the sandy mounds of the Sahara a deep russet colour. In the distance we could spot some jeeps driving though the desert, leaving a long dusty trail behind them like a contrail of a plane in the sky. We even noticed the distant pointy roofs of another camp in the distance, their lights glowing in the twilight. The sun lowered behind a cluster of clouds on the horizon but the colouring of the sky was mesmerising, deep sherbet shades in rose, blue and purple. The clouds enhanced the view appearing like treads of pink candyfloss above the wavy dunes on the horizon, a truly magical sunset in the desert.
Stargazing in the Sahara Desert
Once night had truly fallen, we wandered back to our desert camp where Jerome wanted to gaze at the stars through the telescope. It is a well-known fact that due to the lack of light pollution, the night sky is much clearer and easier to observe in the desert. It is certainly true that the millions of stars that twinkled above us were much brighter than we had experienced. Jerome was disappointed to find the telescope just would not work, maybe the heat and sand had an adverse effect on its technical parts and had broken the ability to focus on the stars in the night sky. This did not stop us from finding some of the star constellations we know, such as the belt of Orion, Cassiopeia and of course the Milky Way.
Dinner at La Kahena
The chill of the night and our hunger eventually chased us inside into the main tent, where the warmth of a gas heater and a four-course dinner was served. Outside we could see a bonfire’s flames dance the night away. The food was delicious, a feast with almost far too much food for just the three of us. I should have mentioned earlier that we were lucky to be the only guests at La Kahena that night, which on one hand felt weird, on the other it added another special level of luxury to our stay, I am sure some guests would pay a lot of money to have exclusive use of the camp. The camp when full would still only have about a dozen guests.
Night at the Desert Camp
After dinner we strolled back towards our tent, sat down to gaze some more at the starry sky before heading to bed. The luxury of running water gave us the possibility to at least clean our feet, hands and faces from the sand grains stuck between our fingers and toes before slipping between the crisp, clean sheets in our beds. The thick duvets and our long sleeves clothes kept us warm throughout the cold of the winter night in the desert and we slept until well after sunrise.
Sand Boarding, Again…
Outside the early morning light doused the sandy dunes in a soft, warm light and even before breakfast was served Jerome ran to get the sand board from the main tent for a few runs down the sandy mounds. Of course after breakfast as well again, because he obviously had caught a boarding bug.
Breakfast in the Sunshine
Our breakfast table was laid inside the main tent, but we wanted to dine outside in the early sunshine. Thankfully Hafid and his helper quickly moved everything on our request and we had a lazy, enjoyable breakfast in the Sahara desert sands.
Animals in the Sahara
After breakfast we noticed some animal tracks in the sand, one looked suspiciously like a snake, but Hafid explained that they belonged to mice, lizards, beetles and bunnies that live in the Sahara. Who would have thought that they would be able to survive in these extreme climate conditions? While I went to pack our trolley for departure Jerome went back on the sand board, to the amusement of Hafid and his crew.
Sad to leave this magical place behind, we said goodbye and climbed back into the car to return to Mhamid. Part way back we joined a throng of cars driving in the same direction along the maze of tracks across the dusty desert. This time we did not see any camel caravans but we spotted a dromedary mum with her cute, calf as a perfect end to our trip.
Driving to Agdz
Finally after an hour or so in the 4×4 we recovered our car from the parking where we left it overnight and we commenced the drive back to Agdz. Our way would take us back over the mountains at the desserts edge, northwards, to a wonderful, secluded hotel amongst the Draa valley palms.
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5 thoughts on “Erg Chigaga, Morocco | Magical Sunset and a Night Under a Star Studded Sky in the Sahara Desert”
This looks crazy and so unique. Loved your description of the jeeps through the desert. I would have be real happy with being the only people staying, I guess I might have missed the opportunity for a chat, but the extra privacy would be lovely.
Thank you! I think one night without any company around was rather enjoyable, if we would have stayed longer we certainly would have felt a bit lonely without anyone else to chat to.
Magnificent! What a great stop. This one makes me incredibly jealous.
Do you look for “Dark Sky” locations to visit in your travels? http://darksky.org/ We do.
It’s one of those things that’s completely shocking the first time you make the comparison, what you can see in an area with light pollution vs. somewhere “naturally” dark.
No I actually never have before. Thanks for the tip, will it keep in mind for future trips. It really is an eye opener though to discover how little we can actually see of the night sky at home.