Luxury glamping in the red sand dunes of Morocco’s Sahara is a must-see experience in this country, but for those who don’t have the time or inclination to travel several hours south of Marrakech, there’s another worthwhile experience just 45 minutes outside . Agafay Desert is often used as a relaxing day trip from the busy streets and crowds of this popular city. But with the opening on October 1stSt of Caravan Agafay by the eco-hospitality group Habitas, there is now a campsite overlooking this rocky desert and the Atlas Mountains that meets luxury international standards for an overnight stay. The goal is not just to create a residential experience, but a creative, imaginative, playful experience that draws inspiration from this natural environment.
“After the recent success of Caravan AlUla, we felt now was the time to develop this immersive concept on a new continent,” explains Oliver Ripley, Co-Founder and CEO of Habitas, describing the developing tourism project in Saudi Arabia, the latest of the company’s portfolio which also includes properties in Mexico and Namibia. “And we were attracted by Agafay’s impressive landscape.”
Overlooking the lunar landscape, the 12-acre property has a total of 20 accommodations, both self-contained lodges with private bathrooms and more rustic exploration tents, all decorated with furniture and decorative objects such as rugs, pottery and pillows sourced from local artisan cooperatives with based in the Atlas Mountains. along with the souks of Marrakesh. The king-size beds have mattresses and fine linens for hotel suites, the bathrooms have organic toiletries, and those who need to connect can be since the tents have WiFi. But guests should be outdoors, lounging on Berber furniture on their stone terraces watching the stars—or the occasional movie in the desert’s open-air cinema.
During the day, guests can swim in the two pools, ride horses or camels (hopefully in good spirits, not always) from the resort’s private stables, learn wilderness survival skills, do yoga, meditate or awareness, experience musical performances or learn about Bedouin traditions. There’s also the option to visit local Berber villages supported by Habitas RISE, the company’s impact initiative that aims to support local communities, create jobs and give back to local environmental and social causes. Staying at Caravan Agafay also boosts the RISE fund: $10 will be contributed for each guest in the residence.
Eating Moroccan specialties is one of the pleasures of a visit anywhere in this country and the same is true here. Dishes prepared on open stoves include fish with chermoula sauce, mashed beans, roasted peppers, lemon, greens and olive tapenade. chicken tabsa-grilled chicken with crispy onions, roasted tomatoes, toasted almonds, crispy garlic, leek confit, black lime, tahini and harissa oil. and pumpkin couscous with celery root, spinach, Swiss chard, basil, broccoli, crispy garlic, pumpkin and orange dressing. Breakfast includes nationalities, from spicy egg dish with tomato shakshuka sauce with farm greens to spinach and cheese omelette to pineapple/banana smoothies and avocado toast.
Since the location fits seamlessly with the Habitas ethos of fostering human connections, creating shared authentic experiences and positively impacting local communities, an approach the company is expanding elsewhere in Mexico, Costa Rica and Bhutan in the coming months, the Oliver Ripley is also looking at other sites here. “This project marks our first in Morocco,” he explains, “but we have exciting plans to expand inland very soon.”