RTW Trip Merzouga, Morocco Day 36: Getting settled in the Sahara Desert
We arrived at about 6-6:30am in Rissani, and needed to catch a taxi to Merzouga to our booked hotel for our desert trek. I would highly suggest booking something before you arrive, because arriving in the dark in Rissani is horrible. There is nothing there, it is dark, and there are a couple touts waiting to take you to a horrible hotel. We managed to get a taxi with 2 Italians to Merzouga, with the ‘help’ from a Moroccan ‘English teacher.’ He joined us for the ride saying he was not a tout, but was helping us get a taxi for a good price. He continually said that he was an English teacher, and since there were no taxis, we just went with him, even though he was clearly working with the Berber driver who couldn’t speak English. We didn’t have much of a choice. We hopped in the taxi over a unpaved desert ‘road.’ It felt like we were driving over a very rocky desert in the pitch black with really crappy headlights hitting a lot of bumps and rocks. Luckily, we arrived safely to our hotel while the Italians had to find their way to any hotel. When we arrived and paid the taxi driver, the ‘English teacher’ kept asking if we had anything extra to give to the taxi driver. We were so exhausted, we gave some more money just to get out of that situation.
I was super happy paying a bit more than our planned budget to stay at Auberge Dunes D’or. You are literally steps away from the desert, there is a pool, the staff are so pleasant, and the food was delicious. The staff here were some of the few people I could actually trust in Morocco. The wifi is a bit questionable, but what can you do when you are in the middle of the Sahara Desert?
When we finally stepped foot at the hotel at about 7am, they led us to a small double bedroom to rest until a different room was ready. We were able to nap for a few hours, and then move to a much larger suite. This huge room had a lot of color, character, and warmth, but sadly, it was sort of hard for us to enjoy our time due to our previous nightmare at the last place in Fes.
When we were up, we hung out by the slightly chilly pool, battled with the aggressive desert flies, and took a few pics of the gorgeous sunset. We took a small gander into the desert to get a glimpse of what our desert trek would be like tomorrow. I was already falling in love with the desert.
That evening, we ordered some couscous and tagine from the hotel restaurant, and ate outside by the pool. The meals were HUGE and delicious. The food was some of the best food I had eaten in Morocco. The staff even came out and provided entertainment with drumming and singing while we were dining. We went to bed with our bellies full.
Auberge Dunes D’Or Hotel 436 dirham
Dinner of tagine and couscous 180 dirham
Sprite 10 dirham
3 Water 45 dirham
Total cost: 671 dirham / 2 = $37.48 per person
What I learned: When it comes to working with touts, if you have no options, sometimes you just have to suck it up. We didn’t want to go with this ‘English teacher,’ but if we didn’t, we would have been hanging around in Rissani for a few hours in the dark. Probably best to book a pick-up from your hotel, as they should be used to guests arriving early in the morning because of an overnight bus.
Actual date of travel: Oct. 9, 2014