Review: Erg Chigaga Luxury Desert Tented Camp, Mhamid, Morocco
There are a few luxury travel experiences in the world… staying in an overwater villa, travelling in international first class in a long haul flight in a jumbo jet. Adding to this list is experiencing the sand dunes of Africa. There is nothing more interesting than spending time in the desert; the mountains of san, the serenity and the activities all lead to a unique experience that can only be enjoyed in a few corners in the world.
This post is one chapter on our trip to Iceland, the United Kingdom and Morocco. This trip was redeemed through Alaska Mileage Plan and enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.
Read more from this trip:
- Introduction: Iceland, Spain and Morocco via Iceland Air Saga Class & British Airways First Class
- Plaza Premium Lounge: Transborder Vancouver
- Alaska Airlines: Vancouver – Seattle
- American Express Centurion Lounge, Seattle Tacoma, USA
- Icelandair Saga Class: Seattle – Keflavik
- Hotel 101, A Member of Design Hotels, Reykjavik, Iceland
- City Visit: Reykjavik, Iceland – Part I
- City Visit: Reykjavik, Iceland – Part II
- The Blue Lagoon, Iceland
- The Golden Circle, Iceland
- Ion Adventure Hotel, A Member of Design Hotels, Nesjavillir, Iceland
- Nesjavillir to Dyrhólaey, Iceland
- Nesjavillir, Iceland
- Icelandair Saga Business Lounge, Keflavik, Iceland
- Icelandair Saga Class: Keflavik – Madrid
- The Westin Madrid, Madrid, Spain
- Renfe AVE: Madrid Puerta Atocha – Sevilla Santa Justa
- The Hotel Alphonso XIII, A Luxury Collection Resort, Seville, Spain
- City Visit: Seville, Spain – Part I
- City Visit: Seville, Spain – Part II
- Renfe AVE: Sevilla Santa Justa – Madrid Puerta Atocha
- AC Carlton by Marriott, Madrid, Spain
- Iberia Velazquez Premium Business Lounge, Madrid Barajas Terminal 4S, Madrid, Spain
- Iberia Business Class: Madrid – Marrakech
- The Pearl Lounge, Arrivals Hall, Marrakech Airport, Morocco
- Anayela (Riad), a Member of Design Hotels, Marrakech, Morocco
- City Visit: Marrakech, Morocco – Part I
- City Visit: Marrakech, Morocco – Part II
- Activity: Lunch at Aman Yella, Marrakech, Morrocco
- Activity: Overland Travel from Marrakech to Mhamid, Morocco
- Erg Chigaga Luxury Tented Camp, Mhamid, Morocco – Part I
- Erg Chigaga Luxury Tented Camp, Mhamid, Morocco – Part II
- Activity: Overland Travel from Mhamid to Marrakech, Morocco
- Le Meridien N’Fis, Marrakech, Morocco
- The Pearl Lounge, Departures Hall, Marrakech Airport, Morocco
- British Airways Club Europe: Marrakech – London Gatwick
- Le Meridien Piccadilly, London, United Kingdom
- City Visit: London, United Kingdom
- Qantas Business Lounge, London Heathrow T3, United Kingdom
- Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge, London Heathrow T3, United Kingdom
- British Airways First Class: London – Vancouver
Review: Erg Chigaga Luxury Desert Tented Camp, Mhamid, Morocco
The Camp Location:
The travel to the camp took place over one day. For more details on that, see my post on Overland Travel from Marrakech to Mhamid, Morocco. The camp is located well off the beaten path in the middle of the desert several miles from the Algerian Border.
On arrival, the wind was blowing absolutely everywhere so we huddled in the camp tent with our new found camp mate friends as we settled into the Erg Chigaga Luxury Tented Camp. We came across a couple from Brazil, a couple from Colorado, USA and a couple from the United Kingdom.
The Camp and its Surroundings:
As soon as the storm arrived, it blew away. After about 20 minutes, it was clear again to be outside. We were able to get our first impressions of the camp as visibility was restored.
Sunset in the Dunes:
We were going to go settle into the tent but sunset was calling. We climbed for about 15 minutes up a nearby dune for a sunset in the sand dunes.
The camp was kind enough to have drinks and snacks brought up to the dunes and we had a picnic under the stars as the day faded to black.
The Room: A Whole Tent!
After sunset, we walked back to the tent under the stars where we got acquainted with our tent for the next two nights.
The tent was indeed a camp style with a portable toilet and bucket shower (of water scooping variety). Truthfully, it was more camp than luxury…. It was a bit dark in the tent, which was powered by generators during most, but not all of the day. While the fittings had all the style of “glamping”, most of the structures appeared portable and the walkways were all carpets and not concrete; meaning that sand tended to get everywhere both inside and out of the tent.
The tent was spacious and large, with enough room to move around in larger than many hotel rooms.
We’ve been lucky enough to have done two past tented camp experiences at the Fairmont Masai Mara in Kenya and at Sossus Dune Lodge in Namibia. Both of those were pretty clean and well maintained. It’s fair to say that although well appointed, our camps wasn’t quite up to that standard. It was a little rougher than our Fairmont Masai Mara experience as the facility was a little more portable than their structures. I am convinced though that this was probably the best that was available for the area. The camp structures are also portable, in that additional units could be created as needed. I ended up fully absorbing the camping experience and didn’t bother to shower or shave for the two days that we were there (the horrors!). Ultimately, I enjoyed the experience where as MrsWT73 was a little less than impressed with the whole sleeping arrangements. She preferred the Fairmont tented camp experience and all the luxury that it entailed.
After sunset, dinner was served communally in a group tent. Dinner was a beef tangine, with vegetables along with fruit for desert. We were pretty happy to have some still time after that long travel day, and slept pretty well at the end of it.
Erg Chigaga Desert Camp Activities:
We slept in as our first activity was not scheduled until 10 AM. We ended up naturally waking up at about 8 AM as the desert heat of the day started warming up the tent.
We had a breakfast of yoghurt, museli and fruit, along with coffee. We were also able to more fully situate ourselves as sunset came pretty quick the day before. The morning light made for some great photographs against the dunes.
A camel ride into the desert:
Our first activity of the day was a camel ride into the desert. All the activities were included with the lodging fee. The camels that the resort had access to were very pleasant and mild tempered. There was no spitting or irritability on their part; they were very mellow.
We trekked about 45 minutes into the desert along with our Brazilian camp mate friends. I’ve been fortunate enough to ride camels on 4 earlier occasions in Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. Most of these rides have been from opportunistic camel minders at the bottom of the pyramids of Giza. All of these have been for short periods of about 15 minutes; you pretty much get what you pay for after you bargain. When you go for a camel ride that is an hour in length, there is a certain muscle group on your body that gets used that you don’t typically get used. Needless to say, I was walking a little funny for the next forty eight hours. Despite this, there were some nice views of the dunes and the desert.
Although not as tall as the sand dunes at the Qsar Al Sarab, Liwa Oasis, United Arab Emirates, the dunes were still a pleasant sight.
After the camel ride, the camels took a break and fed themselves on some shrubs in the nearby dry river field.
A Visit to a Desert Oasis:
We hopped in the SUV’s which had been driven up and drove to a nearby oasis that was about 30 minutes drive away, or about 15 kilometers from the camp. The camp was run and occupied by a nomad that had experience in living in the desert. We are definitely off the grid here, there wasn’t much around for miles.
We had lunch there of Moroccan salad (tomatoes, onion) and brochettes of chicken and beef. We spent a lot of the afternoon at the oasis under tents as it was shady and pleasant. MrsWT73 and I had each brought a book with us which helped pass the time with great comfort. It was recommended by our local hosts that we stay at the oasis as it could get very hot at the camp during the day with no immediate shade trees available.
Sunsets and Sand Dune boarding:
At around 4 PM, we left the oasis. We were one hour back in the car to the desert camp. Once back at the camp, we set up in the full sun to relax. MrsWT73 enjoyed the free flow wine that was available to guests.
Another sunset this time, we headed up top the dunes a little bit late as the sun appeared to disappear quickly. We stocked up on a drink and started the long climb up the dunes to the sunset picnic spot.
We settled into the picnic spot for another sundowner as it got dark. It’s hard to beat a view with a set up like that!
I went and tried sand boarding for the first time. It was pretty neat to try and I managed to only crash down once at the first start. MrsWT73 wanted to get some silly pictures with our hosts so I was more than happy to oblige.
With the sun coming down, we walked down the hill using cell phone flashlights and for the rest of the evening, had some time next to a cracking camp fire. The camp was set up with candles and lights all around, making it comfortable to spend time outside before retiring.
The Bottom Line: Erg Chigaga Luxury Desert Tented Camp:
It was a pleasant and interesting day of life in the middle of nowhere. Although the camp was great, it sure took a tremendous amount of time and effort to get there to appreciate those views. For those able to travel, there are similar experiences near paved roads and hotels that are easily accessible near the Liwa Oasis in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. However, it won’t have that historic feel of being near the Berber desert on the spice trail that this region is famous for.