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While on Moroccan excursion, we had the amazing opportunity to go camping in the Sahara Desert. It was truly the experience of a lifetime and I will never forget it! We started out our adventure by racing across the desert in Land Rovers – exactly like one of those cheesy car commercials, but way more awesome. As we all clutched the seats for dear life, our driver cranked up the radio (which was playing traditional Amazigh music) and raced across the open plains for a good hour or so until we reached our camping site.

The tent I shared with two other girls

After settling into our tents and checking out the facilities, we headed out onto the dunes to explore and frolic as we pleased. We stayed out there for a good couple of hours, rolling down the dunes, jumping into the drifts, and getting sand in every place possible (later that night I found some in my belly button). We climbed up onto the highest dune we could find and sat there until the sun faded in the sky. Later that night we returned to the dunes and, under the light of the full moon, talked until our eyelids drooped.

the group on the dunes

After a night of fitful sleeping, we awoke at 5 am and set out to do something I had been looking forward to the entire trip: ride camels! We were led by our guide through the darkness of the camp to the camels lying in the sand. We climbed on our steeds in complete darkness – almost immediately when I got on mine, it stood up, first lurching forwards and then backwards on its strange seesaw legs. I thought I was going to fall off!

The guide led us through the dunes to a good lookout point and our camels followed, swaying side to side in their slow gait as the sky lightened. We left our camels sleeping in the dunes as we sought a vantage point from which to watch the sunrise. As we sat in silence the sun appeared at the edge of the sky and slowly pushed its way upward, sending out ribbons of pink, red, and orange as it ascended. 

Overall, desert camping has been one of my favorite experiences on TIME so far. Riding camels fulfilled a lifelong dream of mine and nothing can compare to that desert sunrise.  Despite its severity, the Sahara is truly beautiful. My camel Lucy wasn’t too bad either.

Lucy, my trusty steed, and I