Getting Lost in the Desert: My Trip to the Sahara

in travelfeed •  11 months ago

Sahara - every kid knows the name of this huge desert in Northern Africa. When I was planning on visiting Morocco, I made sure to include the Sahara on my itinerary.
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Lost in the desert

My entry point into the majestic dunes of the Sahara desert was the desert town Merzouga that I reached with a night bus from the city Fez in northern Morocco. When I arrived in Merzouga, it was only 5 in the morning. Tiredly stumbling out of the bus, I was trying to find the way to the hostel that had been recommended to me, so I started walking from the bus stop into the direction that my phone pointed me to. The street lights were getting less and less and after some minutes, I found myself in the middle of the desert. There were no street lights left around me and I desperately stared at the blue position indicator on my phone that was on top of the red "hostel" pin.

So what had happened? When I am travelling, I rely on the Maps.me app on my phone for navigation which mostly has very accurate maps and information available offline. Well, mostly; Since Maps.me fetches its data from Open Street Map where anyone can contribute, there can be incorrect information. In my case, there are a hostel and a desert camp with the same name in Merzouga, but the hostel I was looking for was not on Open Street Map yet...
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Lost in a desert town

Since the hostel was obviously not at the point where it should have been according to my map, I made my way back to the bus stop. It was still totally dark outside and there was nobody around, so I was happy to find one last tout left who drove me in his jeep some hundred metres to his hotel.

The next morning, the owner of the hotel was gone, so I paid and left my luggage at the restaurant next door. With the sun burning on my head and strong winds blowing Sahara sand into my face, I wandered through the village looking to find some sort of travel agency to organize an overnight trip into the nearby desert. But there was nothing there and I found myself wandering in a village, where nobody spoke much English nor Spanish and nobody showed any interest in selling me a trip to the desert. I could not believe this was supposed to be the tourist town Merzouga. To make things worse, the restaurants next to the hotel where I had stayed the night before had closed and I was unable to get to my backpack.
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Time for a plot twist

After some time, I finally had the idea to make my way back to the bus stop where I had arrived the night before, and at daytime, this murky street turned out to be a busy place framed by tourist hotels, hostels, and restaurants. The hostel I had been looking for some hours before turned out to be only metres away from the bus stop and in front of the hostel I met the four Brazilian backpackers together with whom I had explored Fez two days before. They were about to leave for a two-day trip into the desert, so without asking further questions or comparing prices, I booked the same trip at the hostel and an hour later I found myself sitting on a camel looking on the majestic dunes of the Sahara desert.
If you were wondering what happened to my locked up luggage: The amazing owner of the hostel had managed to call the owner of the restaurant to get my backpack back.

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Colours of the desert

We were a group of 15 backpackers on camels which turned out to be really great since they were all amazing people. After some time, we got to the oasis where we were going to spend the night. We were all happy to have the bumpy ride coming to an end, but it turned out, that the hardest part of the trip was still ahead of us: Climbing the huge sand dune to watch the sunset. If you have ever tried to walk up a sand dune you will know what I am talking about; The sand makes it really hard to get up and the strong winds were not improving the situation. However, the view from the top totally made up for that and watching the colours of the majestic dunes slowly change during golden hour was one of the most amazing sunsets I have seen on my travels.

We spent a really fun evening around the campfire and got up early the next morning to watch the sunrise over the dunes. After that, half of the group left, but I had booked a second night in the desert, so me and the rest of the group made our way into the black desert, which turned out to be way less beautiful than the sand dunes. We visited some local nomads and had lunch before we left for another oasis in the afternoon. The whole day was really relaxed, and as much as I had loved the company of the big group the day before, I was happy to be able to take some steps away from the group and enjoy the vast wideness of the desert by myself. We had another fun evening playing cards and sitting around the campfire and the next morning, we got back to Merzouga and I spent the day in the hostel which turned out to be a really amazing place. I really enjoyed my touristy trip to the Sahara and am now off to explore the sourroundings of Tinghir.

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Camera Gear

The camera I used to capture this photo is a Nikon D5500 (APS-C) with a Nikon 10-20mm F4,5–5,6 and a Nikon 18-140mm F3.5-5.6 lens; some photos are captured with my smartphone (Samsung Galaxy S8).

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Amazing shot

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You are welcome

What an incredible adventure and stunning photographs to go with a great story. I didn't even realise the Sahara was in Morocco. Not sure how I managed to miss that!

So glad it worked out well for you. You've definitely inspired me to put that trip on my list. 😊

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I'm sure you would enjoy a trip to Morocco! Apart from the Sahara, there are also amazing mountain landscapes and old cities here, not to forget the very friendly and hospitable people and the great food!

The colors are so vivid and I especially love the smiling camel picture :) Great capture there.

This amazing post was nominated to, and upvoted by @curie. Support what we do by voting Curie as a witness
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Thank you so much! Receiving this curie upvote is a fantastic motivation to keep posting about my travels! Curie is an amazing project and this is why @curie was the first witness I voted for!
Sorry for the late reply, but while I had some amazing experiences in the last few days that I will write about in future posts, I didn't have any wifi to reply to you any earlier. Bu

Lol you seem to be so "go with the flow." Love that. Super important characteristic to have as a traveler. Haha these sound like such typical third world travel problems. I'm sorry about all of the problems you encountered, but I can't help but laugh a little.

I've never climbed a sand dune, but I watched a similar trip to this on tv recently. It seemed like you have to be super in shape to climb them? Or maybe, the girl on the show was just really out of shape...she was struggling really hard.

Please just take me with you already!!! I can't stand it anymore lol your pictures are too amazing and I love your travel stories. Even getting lost and not being able to get your backpack. This is such a tease! lol I'm traveling in Thailand but want to be in Morocco at the same time!

Also, that camel's facial expression toward the bottom is hilarious. Made my entire day haha.

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Thank you for your long comment! Makes me really happy to read such a nice reply to my post. To "go with the flow" is exactly how I like to travel! This is how I ended up couchsurfing for the past few days and didn't have wifi to reply to your comment any earlier.. Sorry for that!

Climbing the dunes was certainly very hard, out of the 15 backpackers in our group only me and one other guy made it all the way to the top!
Camels can make some really funny faces, I'm planning to make a compilation post of the most hilarious camel portraits soon :D

I really enjoyed reading your story. It's funny how in the moment I'm sure ending up in the desert at 5 AM when you're exhausted seemed terrible, but reading it it all sounds like part of the adventure and a really good story! The color of the sand is amazing. And I love the waves the wind made in it. I have never been to Morocco, but I've always had it high on my list. I imagined it to be a mix of Africa and Middle Eastern combined... is it true? I wonder, how did you find the food? Is it spicy there? Thank you for sharing your story! I'm even more motivated to go!

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I can certainly recommend Morocco, I'm totally in love with this country! I have neither been to Africa nor to the Middle East before, but I think a mix of these two is a perfect description of Morocco.
The food is very delicious and I haven't had anything too spicy yet.

Heya, just swinging by to let you know you're being featured in our Daily Travel Digest!

I have been to Morocco a few times, but never made it into the Sahara, it looks incredible! I've been planning on going back as it's been a few years since my last visit, definitely adding this to my "ifIendupthereIshouldseethat-list", haha!

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Thanks for featuring my post! :) I love Morocco so I can certainly see why you want to go back! On the way to Merzouga there are two places with amazing landscape in Todra and Dades Gorge so you can add them to your list as well if you like :D

Wow, really great post and beautiful photos!
Exactly the right pictures in this cold currently in southern Germany.
How many degrees did you have at your visit and was the heat good to endure?

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Thanks! I have heard from my friends in Karlsruhe how cold it is right now. So happy to be in Morocco 😜 It is mostly around 20-30 degrees here, not colder than 10 at night, so quite comfortable :) In the Sahara it felt like 35 degrees when there was no wind, but it probably was a bit less

you know, it is those moments that make traveling all the better. I love the unexpected surprises that seem to always pop up. I feel it is always better to just go with it.

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Exactly, that's what I love about traveling! And no matter what happens, for some reason everything works out perfectly in the end, always :)

Thank you for your great post! i just visited marrakech with my girlfriend lately and its so cool to read more about this amazing country!

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I'm going to Marrakesh in a few days. Morocco is such an amazing country! Stay tuned for more posts from all around Morocco in the next weeks :)

The pictures are amazing! Sahara it's on my bucket list too. I can't wait to see that place other than movies or pictures ❤️

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It's really and amazing feeling to be in the desert, feeling the wideness of the landscape and hearing nothing but silence.. Way better than in any movie :D

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I'm sure about that :D

I love how the wind shapes the dunes and every detail of the small waves in the sand. "nature only achieves perfection."

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That's a great quote! Nature archieves what humanity is thriving for :D

Great post and awesome pictures!! Really like the colors of the desert and the light of the sunset on the sand.

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Thank you! The light was indeed beautiful :)

Wow! Love all these photos! Great post, thanks for sharing your adventure :)

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Thank you for your comment :)

Awesome images, thanks for sharing that experience with us :)

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It's a pleasure, thanks for your comment!

Very cool photos, I gotta admit, I'd do worse. Good job, mate

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Thanks mate!

Breath-taking photos and an amazing story! I love the sponateity of your trip and you met the right people at the right time. And 15 awesome backpackers - that's the kind of crowd I would love to join and hang out with in my travels. I am so glad this got curied! :)

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Thank you! It was an awesome crowd indeed :) I was so happy when I saw the curie upvote, what a great motivation! I think they are actually looking through #travelfeed, there are quite a lot of curied posts there!

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Awesome! Travelfeed is doing great and it's just the beginning! :)

Awesome post, love the sunset ones of the camels!

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Thanks! It was only on the last day that I finally found some camels positioned right to get these shots!

Great work, thanks for sharing. Posts like this is what makes Steemit great!

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Thanks for your comment, I hope to see you around more often!

Stunning photos and great reporting!

On our bucket list but probably too far down the priorities to get done, so thanks for sharing your wonderful story and photos. Following.

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Thanks! Having spent the past weeks travelling in Morocco I can only advise you to put this amazing country way on top of your travel list :)

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Have been trying for a few years but it just keeps getting pushed down by other things - too many places, not enough time!

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Haha, I know this problem!

Cool! How did you like the extreme temperatures?

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Since it is winter in the Sahara right now, the temperatures were actually not too bad! It was quite warm during the day, but on the camels I still needed a jacket because there was a lot of wind. The nights were chilly, but not really cold and especially around the campfire and under two camel hair blankets in the tent it was really comfortable!

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Camel hair blankets, amazing. Sounds like you had a beautiful experience!

Interesting story, and stunning images as always! Are you still in Morocco? Enjoy your trip!

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Thanks :) I'm still in Morocco for 10 more days. This country is so amazing, I don't want to leave!

The picture of the dune and the two guys ... you deserve an award for it!

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Fun fact: These two guys were actually Japanese tourists who were eager to get some photos in traditional clothes :D They were amazing photo motives and I got quite a few shots of them in the desert

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That light is so perfect!!! Do you have their contact info .. they would be thrilled to have to picture.

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Unfortunately I don't.. But I'm sure they got some good photos themselves!

i have a really warm feeling now, thanks)

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You are welcome! :) Thanks for your comment!

Quite an adventure you had but worth the experience to see the Sahara

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Travelling is all about the adventure! Sometimes there are some problems, but they are part of the fun and in the end it always works out great!

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I have to agree sometimes problems make for the best adventures without a doubt

Ah, how your experience can change from night to day, literally! These pictures are breathtaking, I'm glad you found your way to the desert!

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Thank you! :) I was so happy when I had finally found my way to the hostel haha

Oh my gosh that looks like a dream of a trip! What a beautiful place!

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I loved the desert.. Well, after I had found my way!

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Were you lost in the desert "on a horse with no name?"

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Haha, I was actually listening to this song on a loop when I was on the bus leaving Merzouga!

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I thought from the title that you were completely lost the way alone in the desert following the sun to find your way. Well I am kidding eheheh!!! the desert offer absolutely a unique experience Did you ride the white camel? All photos are beautiful but the last three ones are special You reminds my experience in Thar Desert between India and Pakistan riding a camel (which was not white ehehe) and walking and climb the duna sand are challenging in particular if it is windy.

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Haha, I admit that the title was a bit catchy! I did actually get to ride the white camel as well, but he was the most uncomfortable since he was carrying saddle bags as well.

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I think it usually is not very confortable ride the camel due to the reason you also know but with bags it should be unconfortable . Enjoy your trips!!

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It was a super bumpy ride :D Thanks!

Some beautiful shots . Love the desert. So lonely but so beautiful

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Thank you! The desert is such an amazing place, what I found most fascinating was the huge range of colours that the dunes had during golden hour

Welcome to our dear friend. You will never regret this adventure @jpphotography

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Why would I regret it? :D

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