After seeing the English Patient many years ago and countless times since, a stay at a desert camp in the dunes of the Sahara has been at the top of my Travel To-Do list.
When you have conjured up and built up such lofty expectations for an experience, many times the experience will fall short. Sara & Ali's Camp totally hit the spot and I couldn't imagine another option coming close.
Like anything with my Morocco trip, I spent hundreds of hours on the TA forums looking for the best place.
My criteria was:
1. Camp wasn't located right outside of the town
2. Could accommodate solo female travelers.
4. Flexibility with schedule (i.e. not having to depart right after sunrise)
5. Safety (having private tent)
Sara was very helpful in answering and addressing any comments and concerns that I had about the experience (namely about doing it alone as a woman) and I really looked forward to the experience and to meeting Sara & Ali.
I spent a total of 3 nights at the camp in late April. It was supposed to be 2, but I enjoyed my experience so much that I requested to stay another night. With that being said, I CANNOT imagine coming all this way only to spend an overnight as many people do. If you're going to do something like this, you really owe it to yourself to match it with a time investment.
What I got from Sara and Ali was a real behind the scenes look at Merzouga and a lot of exposure to the locals and the day to day living in the area. Not to mention that Ali is the real deal when it comes to being a nomad, and it was fascinating to learn about his life and his background.
Location- The camp itself is at least 7 km from the village so I was satisfied that I couldn't see the trace of a town or village and I got the isolation that I was seeking. Rode a camel a few times, but it was so fun driving the camp LandRover over the dunes.
Decor & general- was above and beyond anything that I expected. The camp was decorated more than some of the riads that I've stayed in. Very nice clean bed linens and plenty of blanket options for the chilly nights. Electricity (from a generator) and plenty of hot water for a shower were nice surprises. Overall, it was very posh and far from "roughing it."
Food- excellent and way too much. Everything was freshly prepared by Ali & crew, very tasty and much more than I needed. I had the pleasure of accompanying them to the markets on a few occasions, which was very cool!
Hospitality- Ali & Sara raise the bar. Riads and camps like this really are a labor of love and I cannot imagine the amount of hard work that goes into making it successful; it's definitely a dawn to dusk initiative. It's very clear that Ali & Sara's Desert Palace was built on a lot of love!
The entire 3 days/nights was really an out of this world, right out of the pages of National Geographic type of experience, and I feel very lucky to have experienced it. I really hope that I can return again for a longer stay.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- We created Ali & Sara's Desert Palace with the aim that our guests could experience the beautiful and natural setting of the desert, staying in clean & comfortable surroundings where the focus is relaxation and enjoyment, together with some safe adventure. Nestled well within the dunes, we're about an hour or so from Merzouga village by camel and 20-30 mins by 4x4. If preferred we can collect clients from around Morocco or if travelling independently we can greet you on your arrival in Merzouga village for you to enjoy light refreshments before setting off by the desert ship, the camel to your home for the night. Our aim is to remain as environmentally friendly as possible and lighting is by a combination of candle and solar power. We pump water from our own water well and guests can take hot water showers, with laundered towels and toiletries provided in a large dedicated bathroom which also houses a separate flush toilet. Dining is in under the stars or in our separate well furnished restaurant and food is freshly prepared to suit personal preference, served at a time to suit. We wake our guests to see sunrise although it's not obligatory and breakfast is served at a time to suit, there's no early morning rush or hurry on our part for our guests to depart. Our aim is for guests to have an exceptional and complete desert experience, we take great care of our clients and we pride ourselves on our service, always on hand, but unobtrusive. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Odigeo, Booking.com, Priceline and Agoda so you can book your Ali & Sara's Desert Palace reservations with confidence. We help millions of travellers each month to find the perfect hotel for both holiday and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- Also Known As:
- Ali & Sara's Desert Palace Morocco/Erg Chebbi