How I Found Myself in the Sahara Desert

Sarah Ashour is a student at SUNY College at Old Westbury and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is studying abroad with ISA in Meknes, Morocco.

A few weeks ago, a group of girls and I took a trip to Merzouga, which is a village in the Sahara Desert. We went there for a camel ride and a camping trip, but ended up experiencing so much more…

Sahara Desert Trip, Merzouga, Morocco G+ç+¦ Ashour G+ç+¦ Photo 1

Sahara Desert, Merzouga, Morocco G+ç+¦ Ashour G+ç+¦ Photo 2

ISA girls in traditional Berber Turban, Merzouga, Morocco G+ç+¦ Ashour G+ç+¦ Photo 3

Starting off our trip, we rode camels into the desert, which was definitely an interesting experience. From atop our camels, we were able to see how expansive the dune landscape is, and although camels are not the most comfortable seating option, it feels great to say we were able to ride these friendly creatures into the desert.

Riding Camels in the Sahara Desert, Merzouga, Morocco G+ç+¦ Ashour G+ç+¦ Photo 4

Once we arrived to our campsite, our guide prepared a Moroccan style meal, and it was truly memorable because for the first time since we started this trip, all nine of us did not have our phones out. We sat around and talked about our lives back in the States, the interesting and funny predicaments we have experienced while abroad, as well as our new-found love for desert life. We were able to really bond during this dinner. However, someone did sneak a picture of our spectacular Moroccan mint tea, pronounced shāy bil n’anā’.

Morrocan Mint Tea, Merzouga, Morocco G+ç+¦ Ashour G+ç+¦ Photo 5

When the sun finally set completely, we looked up and our jaws dropped. We could not believe how many stars there were in the sky. When you live in a big city with serious light pollution, you find it hard to see the sky clearly, but out in that desert, we saw everything and it was spectacular. All of us walked further into the desert to lay in the sand and bask in the beauty of that moment; our tour guide was even nice enough to take pictures along the way so that we could enjoy the moment better!

Star Gazing, Merzouga, Morocco G+ç+¦ Ashour G+ç+¦ Photo 6

I personally had a life changing experience while I looked up at the stars because it helped me put into perspective how large the universe really is. Our tour guide was extremely educated on constellations, so he was able to point out what we were actually looking at, and we also had the opportunity to see shooting stars; I have always been interested in Astronomy, and after having that experience, I plan on taking a course back at my home university,  which is a huge departure for me as a biology major interested in the medical field. I am grateful to have been able to experience an event that showed me I should be seizing every opportunity to try new things.

After we slept for a few hours, we woke up at 5:00 in the morning to watch the sun rise, and once again our minds were blown. The sun was so clear and in our faces that we thought it wasn’t real. It was the perfect end to our trip into the Sahara Desert, and the rising of the sun symbolized the rise of a new group of girls.

Sunrise, Merzouga, Morocco G+ç+¦ Ashour G+ç+¦ Photo 7

Want to read more about Sarah’s experience in Morocco? Check out “What it’s Like to Fast for Ramadan in Morocco