Desert Trekkin' with Dunes & Desert
If you been following my travels for a while, you know that I like my itineraries very loose. Too much structure crushes the hopeless wanderer inside of my little Pisces heart. Honestly, I just can't do the scheduled tour thing but I knew that going to Morocco meant I had to suck it up and book a camel trekking experience. If there was one thing I wanted to do before I left Marrakech, it was head to the desert. That's where Dunes & Desert comes in.
I was given a media rate for this Dunes & Desert tour. No worries, all of the opinions in this blog are mine and I'll only ever work with cool brand that I know you'll dig.
After our third day in the chaos of the old medina, we were ready to escape for the day. This ended up being the most stimulating portion of the trip. We woke up around 9 AM to head to the pick up location for the tour. A sprinter van transported us about 40 minutes outside the city for a priceless experience. When we arrived to their HQ, we quickly signed waivers and started to pick our camels for the 2 hour camel trek ahead of us.
I spotted her. She was short and thin with a little sass. It was as if she was bossing everyone else around. Her name is Bianca and I just knew that we were meant to be because my mom almost named me that too. Ironically, Bianca was just a baby and wouldn't be riding anyone but she came along for the journey and continued to put the other camels in their places when they got out of line.
Jackie Chan was my camels name and although I loved the camel ride it was pretty tiring. At some point my butt became numb from the bumpiness. When I first started this travel journey, destinations like Morocco hadn't crossed my mind. The entire ride I was stuck in thoughts of fate and mindfulness. Living in the moment was the best thing I could do so instead I chose to reflect on the fact that this little black girl from Baltimore was in Africa.
Culture shock alert.
After I stepped out of my feelings, time had passed and we were arriving to a locals home for a much needed break. We parked our camels outside as if they were cars and were greeted by Hicham, a middle aged Moroccan man with a smile that could instantly warmed my heart. As I washed my hands at the basin just beyond the gate, I couldn't get over the fact that this felt so real. There wasn't a time during the tour that felt like a touristy tour where the guides speak like robots. We interacted with everyone in a way that can't be rehearsed.
What I thought would be just some water and simple snacks, was actually Moroccan mint tea and crepes. Heavenly. We enjoyed afternoon tea at Hicham's house surrounded by nothing but the vastness of the desert. Between moments of steeping tea, he taught us the arabic words for each ingredient as he added it to the kettle. Making this tea truly is an art form of slow pours and patience (which Moroccan's have mastered).
By this point in the trip, I was addicted to Moroccan Crepes. They are thin and crispy with a hint of honey. The mint in the tea with the subtle sweetness from the crepe made the perfect pair. By then we were full of good food and even better energy from Hincham and the folks at Dunes & Desert.
After eating one-too-many crepes, we hopped back on our camels to head toward the main campus. I can't lie this was a long ride back and by the end I was ready for it to be over. My butt and groin have never hurt so much before. Totally worth it though.
Now it was time to swap our slow ride for something much faster and a lot less painful: quad bikes. As soon as the helmet touched my head - after many attempts we finally found the right size for my big head and even bigger fro- I turned into my daredevil alter ago. I wanted to ride a four wheeler for about 10 years now but never knew anyone who had one personally. So instead I opted for jet skis but this was next level.
Our quad guides were the best. Some of them have been working with travelers and riding for over a decade so they are highly experienced. We hopped on our bikes and practically bursting at the seams with adrenaline, I struggled to resist going faster than I could. So I reverted back to a place of mindfulness and found peace in the fact that I was experiencing something completely different than ever before.
Before I knew it, we were back to Hicham's home. This time we'd be eating a traditional Moroccan lunch. Tajine, mint tea and fresh fruit filled our plates. The veggie tajine was simple, mildly flavored and I couldn't get enough. I was secretly side eyeing the folks who didn't finish their food. The old Briona would've asked them to pass the leftovers *sighs*. It's safe to say that Shiya and I didn't leave a crumb.
This time I wobbled from Hicham's home with feelings of never wanting to leave but also stuffed full of tajine. Boy was I in for a ride. Not going to lie, I felt like a total bad ass on the way back to the Dunes & Desert HQ. Our guide took us on a longer route where we could really pick up speed and do some slight tricks. Meanwhile, I'm trying to record a vlog while riding an ATV. Don't try that at home kids.
As we passed through the towns, we waved to locals and even stopped by a real berber village where we met the sweetest family. We took a tour of their house in a calm, non invasive way. It was beautiful to see how simply they lived. There wasn't an electronic device in sight and this little girl was radiating with joy. She reminded me that I need to slow down and embrace the unknown wholeheartedly.
Donate to Dunes & Desert's cause which provides children in remote villages with clothing & educational materials.
When it was all said and done, I realized this was the most genuine travel experience I've ever had. Laughs and conversation that just rolled from the tongue. There was no need to speak about who we were, what we do for a living or how many countries we traveled to. In this moment, I was reassured that all that truly matters in this life is the people you meet and the experiences you share with them. That's it.
My soul is forever full from this adventure.
Merci, Marrakech! Merci, Dunes & Deserts.
Ready to hit the dunes? Book your tour here.