• I went glamping for the first time in the Sahara Desert with two kids and had an amazing time.

  • Not even the sub-zero temperatures and minimal amenities ruined the beautiful views.

  • After this experience, I’d go glamping again and I might even try camping.

I don’t require five-star accommodations to be comfortable, but I have spent most of my adult life avoiding camping, convinced I would hate it.

When I travel, I like having hot showers, reliable electricity, and a warm place to sleep at night. Those basics aren’t a guarantee with camping, but they do often come with glamping.

Glamping varies widely but generally consists of accommodations and facilities more luxurious than a basic tent. Sometimes, it also involves sleeping in a yurt, cabin, or unique structure — after all, the glamping industry is booming in the US amid the rising demand for unique travel experiences.

So when I booked a group tour to Morocco with my two kids that included overnight camping in the Sahara Desert, I was down to give it a try.

I paid $4,256 for the three of us for the entire group tour, which included accommodations, a sunset camel ride into the dunes, dinner, and breakfast during the two days in the Sahara Desert.

At first, I didn’t realize what I was in for

Sand in Sahara desert with footprints in it Sand in Sahara desert with footprints in it

The Sahara Desert can get cold at night. Jamie Davis Smith

When I signed up for the trip, I naively assumed a desert in North Africa would be comfortable in December.

Only later while frantically searching what I would need to camp in the Sahara did I learn its temperatures in the winter could fall to 25 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.

I started to panic. The tent I was staying in did not have heat. I rush-ordered a merino wool base layer and hoped for the best.

I read reviews past travelers left saying that even though the camp I was staying in had showers, I could forget about using them because it would be far too cold.

At the last minute, I packed a few baby wipes so I could give myself a sponge bath in the desert if needed. I was no longer convinced this would be a very glam experience, but it was too late to change my plans.

Fortunately, the desert camp was much nicer than I expected

Row of small glamping tents in Sahara Desert surrounded by sand Row of small glamping tents in Sahara Desert surrounded by sand

The Sahara Desert camp felt surprisingly cozy. Jamie Davis Smith

My camp in the Sahara — El Borj, located in Erg Chebbi — was anything but basic. Improbably, it had a cozy, home-like feel.

Throughout the campsite, beautiful Moroccan rugs were carefully arranged over the sand. Each structure had pops of color on its exterior, too.

Glamping space in Sahara Desert surrounded by sandGlamping space in Sahara Desert surrounded by sand

I can live without WiFi, but I like having reliable electricity.Jamie Davis Smith

The camp had a welcoming walkway lined with solar-powered lights, which was great at night.

My tent was huge. Much to my relief, it was also insulated.

Interior of glamping tent in Sahara desert with large bed, sheet-covered ceilings, rug-covered floorInterior of glamping tent in Sahara desert with large bed, sheet-covered ceilings, rug-covered floor

The tent had electricity, but I wasn’t sure if I could rely on it. Jamie Davis Smith

The camp had electricity, although I had been warned that the power source was unreliable and could fail at any moment.

Daytime in the desert was magical, and nighttime was cold but lovely

Three people on camels in Sahara desert sands Three people on camels in Sahara desert sands

Riding camels in the desert was unreal. Jamie Davis Smith

A day in the desert was just as magical as I had hoped.

I vowed that riding a camel into the sunset, watching the sun disappear over the vast desert, and sliding down enormous sand dunes would not be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

At night, I bundled up and enjoyed a feast with roasted olives, traditional Moroccan tagine, couscous, and fresh fruit sprinkled with cinnamon.

As the temperature dropped, I huddled by the fire and stared in awe at the desert sky, which was filled with more stars than I’d ever seen at one time. The moon was so full and bright it didn’t look real.

Sheet-covered table filled with plates Sheet-covered table filled with plates

Plenty of food was available at the glamping site. Jamie Davis Smith

I thought about how I would have missed all of this if I had let my fear of camping — and even glamping — stand in my way.

If being cold and going without a hot shower for a day was the trade-off for such an amazing experience, it was well worth the inconvenience.

Flamping tents at night in Sahara DesertFlamping tents at night in Sahara Desert

The campsite looked cool at night, too. Jamie Davis Smith

When it was time to go to bed, the blankets were heavy, but I was so tired I barely noticed their weight as I drifted off to sleep.

I woke once, briefly, and considered getting up to use the bathroom in our tent. I felt the bitter cold nipping my face and decided I could wait until the morning.

I would gladly go glamping again — and I might even try camping

People on camels in Sahara DesertPeople on camels in Sahara Desert

Our trip in the desert changed my mind about glamping. Jamie Davis Smith

I woke up early, in time to catch the golden sunrise over the dunes. I sat by the fire with a hot cup of coffee mixed with warm milk and sugar.

As I watched the sunrise, I decided that I was a glamping person after all. Later that afternoon, driving away from the desert, I wondered if I should give old-fashioned camping a try, too.

Read the original article on Business Insider


published 2007-12-16 15:26:29