El Sabor Del Sahara Camp: A Precious Gem in the Middle of the Sahara Desert
By: Saleh ElBachra
Life in the desert is a unique great school not only teaching survival but also mapping out your lifeline and your quest into this life. The Sahara desert teaches patience and perseverance, the extraordinary ways of extreme living in plain nature away from the realm of the modern material life: Live with little and feel remarkably light. The desert allows one to live a true initiation without artifice, with sincerity and authenticity. Walking in silence in the desert is one of the highest forms of meditation that ever exists. The desert offers on the one hand complete destitution and a multitude of wealth that only wise men can get to. The warm and gentle dunes of the Sahara desert are a call to hike and discover the desert where it meets the shores of the Atlantic ocean. A great idea comes to your mind when you see the vast desert is to go for to go on a short trip with camel caravans under the scorching sun and with the sound of the animals whispering softly to the desert around you making you feel you are one with mother nature.
Sleeping in the Sahara Desert in has always been a quest and a source of tranquility as i would gaze at the stars in the clear sky leading dragging me into a trance that goes beyond the unimaginable., Always gives me the feeling i am traveling beyond my own world The stars would enchant me and hypnotize me just by watching them, where i would find myself thrown into a world of warm and sandy dreams. It is a lovely sight at sunrise and senset where the sune, the dunes and the sky come into oness. In this unique environment with sand dunes, ardent valleys, rocks, stones blackened by the sun, and sharp sandstone, the desert is inviting and is a land of adventure which offers you the discovery of the most mythical places on our earth: A journey into your inner-self.
The Sahara desert is the ideal place for the practice of well-being activity. Desert melody is at your disposal for your theme trips. It is a place that is ideal for practicing an activity out in the open air: yoga, and meditation. Nevertheless, it is an opportunity that brings about the attitude of being absorbed in deep reflection; Crenotherapy ( sand therapy) and a guide into a spiritual and physical discipline that aims to free the mind.
The desert is an invitation to the exploration of one's "self" and the maintenance of the body. Life in the desert is also about: sharing with the nomads, the pleasure of walking beside dromedaries (or being carried), and is also about healing yourself physically and mentally. It is an invitation to simplicity and letting go. Some would even describe it as spending precious time in communion with nature.
As a rigorous traveler and a wanderer, i have always been ardent to explore other places and other sites. Yet, this beautiful charming desert has always been near me, in front of me and around me without me looking deeper into it. Now came the chance to fully explore it as i had the urge to pay more attention to it and to enjoy it to my own convenience. I always lived in the city but made few visits and short trips to the desert with my dad and with my family. I never paid full attention to the charms of the desert as a city dweller seeking comfort and vibe. Now, after all these years of living abroad and visiting so many countries, i told myself i should pay more attention to the desert and see what it has to offer. What i found out later was astonishing and eye-opener. It bewildered me to find that i have missed such a charm my whole life. A friend of mine told me about a nice traditional camp not far from El-Aaiun called: El Sabor Del Sahara.
El Sabor Del Sahara camp offers choices of accommodation to sleep either in cabins or in colorful beautiful handmade Bedouin tents. Wooden cabins (huts) have single occupancy, double and even for the whole family. They are equipped with comfortable and clean beds. For large groups, the administration crew would suggest sleeping in the big large Bedouin tents that are made of the hair of camels. These tents are equipped with mattresses where you can lay your back and gaze at the beautiful ceiling of the tent. There is also a bivouac where you can celebrate with friends the warmth of the fire and the intimacy of a good company with a Bonfire sparkle lighting up your faces. Some women like to do the henna to their hands or feet or even to both. A very compelling activity under the full moon is a smooth ride on a horse-back is very unparalleled! You will just love it! Many guests just love the Saaarwi cuisine and the local food mainly camels´ meat and fish. Pastries are served with tea. What really strikes you upon your arrival is the welcoming party wearing traditional clothes: the Daraa for men and the Mellhfa for women. The milk and dates are also offered as a sign of Saharawi hospitality.
The Camp has modern accommodations, bathrooms, sinks, toilets, shower and a Turkish baths, all cemented and covered in tiles. All tents, cabins, and bathrooms are illuminated with solar panels. The camp is eco-friendly and the owner wants to create a healthy environment in accordance with life in the desert but always guaranteeing a minimum of comfort. Fatma Hammad, the owner of this whole project, says:¨ Our intention is to combine the Bedouin culture with a certain comfort where the client is the king here, feeling at ease and enjoying what the desert has to offer!¨ She also added: ¨having Turkish baths or showers in the middle of the desert is a luxury that is not exactly found elsewhere in this desert or around the corner¨. She also mentions that the customer is also looked at as a guest and as a friend who comes to live the Bedouin life and to enjoy the mythic life in the heart of the desert away from civilization. It is a Stress-free environment. She also says that she built a primitive small museum for stones and artifacts found in the desert. Some of these stones are small pieces of meteorites while some are reminders of minerals very abundant in the desert of the Sahara.
The dunes are scattered around us hundreds of feet away from the camp forming a natural border between the desert and the blue Atlantic ocean. Fatma Hammad is a local Saharawi entrepreneur woman who invested all her life savings to build that camp despite all the obstacles and the hardships she faced along the way. She struggled to keep it well maintained during the sandstorm and all natural effects. She built the camp 10 miles in the middle of the desert north of the city of El-Aaiun in the Sahara. It was opened officially in 2007. Since then, the camp has been the favorite destination of many tourists and delegations: Academics visiting the desert, artists exploring the culture and nature, sports delegation looking for sand surf and kitesurf favorable winds there, fashion show top models looking to pose their costumes in the middle of nowhere, and adventure seeking explorers who come and go. Many tourists have visited the camp iincluding but not limited to: Spain, France, Japan, Morocco, Germany, USA, Qatar, Oman, Saudia Arabia and Holland. Many celebrities visited the camp as well including a princess from Holland and Marathon and Kite Surf world-renowned champions. I was told that the UN Mission based in EL-Aaiun ( MINURSO) personnel always come and spend their weekend getaway there. It is, indeed, the perfect spot for relaxation.
Truly, my visit to El Sabor Del Sahara was an opportunity to very inspiring and very educational. It seems like time would stop there and you are driven back in time to the old ages of caravans and Saharawis living their lives in that vast arid land where everything is precious and scarce. It is a journey into your inner-self. El Sabor Del Sahara website is:
About the author:
Saleh ElBachra is a Saharawi living in the USA. He is a blogger and an occasional writer. You can check his other article about El-Aaiun city published in the Guardian magazine:
Pictures are a courtesy of El Sabor Del Sahara with their permissin to publish them.
For inquiries: Email him : firstname.lastname@example.org
Big photo By Luca Galuzzi (Lucag) - Photo taken by (Luca Galuzzi) * http://www.galuzzi.it, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2147276