Glam Weekend in Agafay Desert

With its moon-like waves of mountains akin to the dunes of the Sahara, the Agafay desert is a nugget on the outskirts of Marrakech. Very close and yet very exotic, these wide-open desertic spaces lend themselves to glamping in the style of the great expeditions of yesteryear, and to Zen or sporting activities. A 100% oxygen getaway.

In Marrakech, there’s no need to drive for hours to play the remake of Tea in the Sahara! Just 45 minutes away, the Agafay desert rolls its waves of lunar mountains over 400 km² at the foot of the Atlas Mountains. Not a pinch of sand, but a reg sheared by a canyon worthy of southern oases, whose gentle golden undulations form a striking contrast with the barrier of snow-capped mountains in winter.

Enjoy a glamping weekend of sports, wellness, and even cultural activities. Gentle hikes, horseback riding, mountain biking or camel trekking, buggy or sidecar rides, astronomy sessions and even electro or trail parties under the moon: to each his own desert!

  1. Meharee and picnic chic

If he wears an orange chèche and an indigo suit, it’s not folklore: like the whole Inara Camp team, Brahim hails from the Zagora region in the south and grew up in nomad tents in the Sahara. When he’s not tending to the camels in the in-house stable, he accompanies the Meharees with his supple stride, accustomed to treading the erg. There’s no sand to get in the way, just the gentle rhythm of the caravan, before we pull up on one of the desert ships to watch the ribbons of light-toned mamelons, a small green field and a pink canyon where a white-topped table rises for an unusual picnic.

  1. Vintage sidecar escapes

You can crisscross the Agafay desert on a quad or buggy, Paris-Dakar style. Or a lighter, Yellow Expedition-style ride in a vintage sidecar. At the controls, a double-hatted pilot, experienced driver, and connoisseur of the region. Helmets screwed on, you settle into the basket or the saddle for a smooth ride over the tracks. Along the way, we stop to enjoy a mint tea in a historic Zaouïa (religious complex) and a spectacular lunch overlooking the Atlas Mountains.

  1. A day in the life of a Fellah (Local farmer)

Soft green flowerbeds, a trellis…. “We picked 10 kilos of vegetables this morning!” rejoices Pierre-Yves Marais, whose utopia of creating a self-sufficient ecolodge and greening the desert has become reality. Between the organic vegetable garden, where Lahcen, the head gardener, runs permaculture workshops, the orchard, the stable of horses and camels and the farmyard, you can play fellah before sampling the garden’s cuisine. And to immerse yourself in the life of an authentic farm, take a walk with Abdou, the son of the house. Along the way, we come across the father and his sheep. On arrival, tajines simmer on braziers: mother Fouzia and grandmother Messaouda do the honors on the farm.

  1. An astronomer for a night

Ali has been an astronomer for 15 years “out of passion”, and he knows how to share it! Co-founder of Morocco’s Dark Sky reserve project, he hosts sky-watching evenings far from the bright lights of Marrakech. We scan the lunar craters and nebulae with his telescope before following the dance of his laser torch across the sky. The winter triangle takes shape, followed by Orion’s belt, said to have inspired the alignment of the Giza pyramids. In Morocco, it guided the elders as they planted their crops. “If you saw it before the 4th prayer, it was too late, and by the 5th you had to hurry!

  1. Exclusive starlit dinner

“Monotonous desert? Is Monsieur kidding?”. We’re reminded of this line from Théodore Monod, the great surveyor of the Sahara, amidst the dark boulders of the Roches Noires. Even in its pocket, this desert knows how to be a chameleon. In this discreet little corner, where Scarabeo Camp sets up temporary camps and tables, the 360° panorama of the desert’s 50 shades of color is the only thing to occupy our minds. At dusk, the lanterns light up, the table is set and it’s time to dine face to face with the stars.

  1. Arty bath and chill out

La Pause is a confidential oasis between canyon and hills, and the very first nomadic refuge in the Agafay desert. Here, you can bathe in nature under the olive trees, lulled by the murmur of the Seguias (irrigation canals) and bathe in the spring-water pool that stretches (17 by 9 meters) to the very top, facing the coppery domes of the desert. Below, a monumental sculpture unwinds its propellers: a partner of the 1.54 Contemporary African Art Fair, La Pause is also an artists’ residency, to be visited when the calendar permits.

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