The undeniable luxury of a holiday in the Sahara Desert
Some say there’s nothing in the desert, but here, you can lose yourself and revel in an entirely new and luxurious way. It’s why holidays in the Sahara Desert have become hugely sought after among well-heeled travellers everywhere — people who like the finer things in life and don’t want to get lost in the overwhelming and brash crowd of a package holiday in the sun where they might entirely lose their vital sense of individuality.
The majesty of the desert lies in the mighty Sahara, which stretches right across North Africa like an enveloping blanket. It’s the largest hot desert in the world, encompassing an enormous 9.4 million square kilometers — almost the size of the United States or China — and its name is taken from the Arabic word for desert. In this gargantuan place of wide, open spaces, towering dunes and occasional oases, people have lived for centuries: they are the Berber, the ancient and nomadic tribe made up of masters in desert living and whose firm traditions live today, unbroken and unhindered by technology and all the ways of life in the so-called modern world.
Getting a glimpse of all of this and deeply immersing yourself in the Sahara is an incredible, life-affirming experience, and it’s one that should be done at least once in your life. It is the ultimate getaway from the stresses of life because here, time almost stands still. There is no real sense of anything having changed for centuries, and the silence that surrounds the desert is both profound and moving: no loud traffic, and no endless talk among people swilling beer in bars — nothing except you and your fellow guests and guides and an almighty stillness that gives an overwhelming feeling of refreshment.
Which part of the Sahara is best to visit?
Although the Sahara Desert runs through almost a dozen countries — Algeria, Morocco, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Sudan, Tunisia and Western Sahara — not all are suitable for foreign tourists. Western Sahara, for instance, is largely barren place and officially a “disputed territory” that rebels are trying to wrest control of from Morocco, as the United Nations, which has bases there, tries to broker some kind of settlement. Other countries, such as Egypt, have become problematic — and deadly — for tourists, largely because of political developments.
The answer lies in Morocco, a place that perfectly blends North African and Arabic customs and traditions with a big welcome to foreign tourists from all over the world. Over half a million Brits (650,000) visit the country every year and most of them encounter few — if any — problems at all, the UK government says. This perfectly places discerning travellers to embark on Morocco desert tours and see and experience the Sahara Desert for themselves, safe in the knowledge that they’re not likely to come to any harm.
Luxury tented stays in the Sahara Desert
A large number of Morocco desert tours start in some of the country’s biggest and most vibrant cities. Marrakech is one of the favourites among tourists and offers a chance to see its many incredible buildings, colourful markets and winding streets full of character, as well as its stately palaces and serene gardens. Staying in Marrakech before heading out on Morocco desert tours also means enjoying luxury accommodation at incredible hotels where you’ll be treated like royalty and savour some of the best in fine dining found anywhere in the world.
And you won’t be leaving those indulgent luxuries behind once you’re on a Morocco desert tour either, whether for a few days or a week or more. Opting for a reputable and highly professional tour company — ask around and read online reviews — ensures you’ll be ferried about in the air-conditioned comfort of a sturdy 4×4 that is more than capable of dealing with the sometimes challenging terrain. In the evenings, you’ll retire to your very own luxury tented accommodation with all the bathroom and other facilities you need.
Then, as you sit back and dine out under the shimmering stars in a sky unhindered by the pollution of cities, you’ll enjoy a Moroccan feast served up for you and get an idea of what the magic of the Sahara is all about.