Africa

A Desert Under the Stars: Luxury Glamping Outside of Marrakech

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Not far from the dusty medinas and charming riads of Marrakech lies the expansive Agafay desert. Filled with orange-yellow rolling sand dunes and the faint outlines of the Atlas mountains constantly looming in the background, it’s a quiet break from the chaos of Marrakech’s old city. Despite being right outside of the city, it feels worlds away from its urban neighbor.

Before leaving the US, my friend and I looked into outdoor activities and stumbled upon the opportunity to go glamping. Glamping, if you don’t know, is “glamorous camping,” otherwise known as a stay in a luxury tent. Since we were on a serious time crunch, we decided to stick to Scarabeo Camp, which is located in the Agafay Desert, only about an hour outside of Marrakech’s city center.

Scarabeo Camp: A Luxury Glamping Experience

Getting to the Camp

Included in the price of a night at Scarabeo is a transfer to and from the camp. The morning we were meant to depart, we packed our things and met a man outside our hotel who was driving a black SUV. After putting our things into the car, he would drive us about an hour away from our riad to the glamping location.

Quickly, the narrow, crowded streets widened, and the red buildings turned into sand dunes. It was as if the city was melting away behind us, giving rise to the brownish-gold terrain of the desert ahead. We drove through valleys, around sand dunes, rumbled over rocks, and climbed up hills until we finaly reached the camp. It was a gathering of about a dozen tents of all different sizes, with a full view of the dunes and the Atlas mountains.

Exploring The Campsite and Accommodations

We were greeted by the host, a scruffy, young man with a friendly smile. He sat us down in a carpeted area outdoors and served us a sugary-sweet cup of the famous Moroccan mint tea. After making a bit of small talk, he reminded us that lunch would be ready soon, and left us to explore. This was nothing like the typical camping adventures I’d had before.

I took a deep breath and looked around. As far as the eye could see, there were sand dunes. I checked my phone – no service. For the first time in a long while, we were completely disconnected from the rest of the world. What a strange and glorious feeling it was.

My friend and I were surprised to find a beautiful lunch in front of us a few minutes later. Tapas-style vegetables, couscous, breads, and stews filled the table, coupled with sweet white wine.

Wow, I thought, I could get used to this.

After lunch, our host showed us to our tent. As he rolled up the door flap, we peered inside. It was a simple yet elegant set of furniture – a king bed, a few chairs, a heater, and some shelves and tables. Two lone lanterns stood by the bedsides. There was also a full-service bathroom with a drop toilet, a shower, and a sink.

I started laughing to myself. Here I was, in the middle of a desert in Morocco, staying in the most luxurious tent I’d ever seen…and just 24 hours before I was boarding my flight in Houston. It still baffles me sometimes how I end up in these moments, the ones I ultimately remember for life.

Our Glamping Experience

The rest of our experience would follow a similar tune. In the evening, we emerged from our room to find lantern-lit trails leading to our dining tent, adorned with candles and small decorations. We feasted on Moroccan tajine and red wine and talked until what felt like the wee hours of the morning. And then, in the dark of the night, we tiptoed back to our rooms, admiring the giant, white moon casting its silver light across the desert.

It was magical, in its own luxurious and eccentric way.

The next morning, we awoke in the light blue of dawn and watched the sun start to rise above the mountains. The blues turned to gold as the sun crept slowly into the sky, the iron-gray sand dunes once again regained their yellow tones. I’m not going to bore you with the details of two more meals, but you get the picture: every tiny detail was well-thought out and executed.

The Worst-Kept Secret of Glamping in Morocco

It’s the same as the worst-kept secret of glamping anywhere in a remote location: there’s really not much to do. Most of the time we were there, we lazed around on the lawn chairs, reading books, did yoga, or went trail running. When we weren’t feeling lazy, we walked around and climbed the sand dunes (there weren’t really any trails). It was so nice to forget what day or time it was for a while.

The feeling of nothingness was really nice. It was so fun having life talks with my friend, or simply reading a book in the quiet of the desert. The whole experience reminded me of the value of taking breaks to travel – it’s hard to find and maintain this level of tranquility and silence in our normal lives. My glamping experience in Morocco gave that to me, and then some.

The Bottom Line

Glamping was such an odd experience for me. On one hand, I loved the luxury and perfect planning of it. On the other hand, I’m still a sucker for traditional camping and being truly immersed in the nature itself. Next time I visit Morocco, I’ll probably try a longer, more budget-friendly Sahara desert camping tour. However, for a short weekend trip, our experience at Scarabeo Camp was absolutely lovely, and I’d recommend it to anyone looking to escape Marrakech for a short while. Whether you have one week in Morocco or one month, glamping is definitely a wonderful activity to add to your itinerary.

The whole experience, all-in-all, came out to ~$250 USD per person for one night, a camel ride, and four meals. It was pretty steep for me, and I’m not sure I’d ever do it again for this price, but it was worth it for me in the end for a day of quiet and a truly unique experience.

Want to Try This Yourself?

Scarabeo Camp is a glamping experience open to visitors in Marrakech. It is a luxury, high-budget activity for travelers who don’t mind splurging for a high-end experience.

  • Website: ScarabeoCamp.com
  • Booking: Book Here
  • Approximate cost: $200+ shared, $300+ solo (including transfers)
  • Outdoor experience: Medium
  • Cultural immersion: Low

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Have you ever gone glamping? What did you think of it? 

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Kay is a full-time working professional located in Washington DC who takes every spare vacation day to get outside and explore the world. When she travels, she loves visiting the most iconic and naturally beautiful destinations in the USA and abroad. You can typically find her wandering the streets of a city, running through a park, taking ridiculous self portraits, or hiking a mountain somewhere. Connect with Kay: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

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