I’ve always wanted to spend a night camping in the desert, but am not your happiest camper. I had seen so many photos of Scarabeo that I knew I would love a stay there. After trying (and failing) a few months before our trip to book two tents for the four of us as a special treat for Harriet’s Birthday, we settled instead on a camel ride and dinner under the stars.
Arriving into the desert was an adventure in itself. Our driver tore off the main road onto a road that (thankfully) had had a layer of tarmac recently applied. We drove along the winding road for a while before seeing a turn off for Scarabeo and ducking onto another winding dirt track. You have no idea how thankful we were to be in a 4X4!
Eventually the road opened up to the camp, driftwood planks made up the entranceway, while a member of staff hurried over to meet us and whisked away our wine (it’s BYOB at the camp) as well as Harrie’s cake. He then lead us to the communal lounge area, where we took our seats around a gorgeous traditional Moroccan gold table and he poured us cups of mint tea producing sweet treats to accompany.
The camp was beautiful. Cream tents opened out into the central terrace area where carpets covered the floors to prevent your feet from getting dusty or burning on the hot sand. The tents were filled with seating areas, book stands, type writers and traditional Moroccan furniture only adding to the feeling of being thrown into an Indiana Jones style adventure.
Not long after we’d finished our tea, polished off the sweet treats and taken a few photos for family back home, we spotted the familiar sight of some tall, furry hump-backed friends plodding gracefully towards us.
The camels were beautiful, looked incredibly healthy and were adorned with wonderfully colourful comfortable saddles. Their keeper was even more colourful in the most gorgeous, rich blue kaftan style piece of clothing with an incredible oversized hat, putting us to shame in the style department.
Tom was first onto the camel, making it up without toppling over the camels head! Ben was next and then me and stupidly, we left Harrie for last.
It took us 20 minutes, a few tears, some bribery and more than a few calm words to get her onto the camel with the camel keeper eventually almost hauling her up there. After a few moments of fear paralysis, she actually started to really enjoy it!
Birthday saved, we all relaxed into the rhythm of the huge creatures as they effortlessly carried us over the dunes, through valleys and herds of goats, stopping every so often at an idyllic photo spot where our guide kindly snapped away for us.
We timed the camel ride perfectly with the sunset, making it back to the camp to enjoy the last of the rays washed down with iced Rosé in an unbelievably romantic setting.
We polished off a bottle between us in that warm golden glow celebrating over 14 years of friendship and toasting to adventures (new and old).
The start of dinner was announced by a beautiful guitar melody drifting across the warm air, accompanied by words of a song and a language that none of us recognised. As the dusk light started to dim around us, the camp started to flicker into light. Hundreds of candles were lit and twinkled away like captured fallen stars in their glass cages lighting the way to our table.
A meze of foods set off proceedings with delicious hummus and pitta before two Tagine pots were brought over to us. Our waiter lifted the lids as he explained what each was. Unblinking, with a perfectly straight face and in broken English he told us that one was Scarab Beatles and one was Camel. Silently nodding with our lips pursed together, none of us quite knew what to say and I knew everyone else was also thinking back to the beautiful camels we had just been riding.
Before leaving us in our stunned silence for too long, the waiter broke out into a large grin and explained through laughter that the Tagine’s were actually vegetable and lamb… I was proud of all of us for being willing to try the Scarab Beatle and Camel, although we did almost unwillingly recreate this scene from one of my favourite Indiana movies.
The light had now pretty much gone and the stars were popping up like distant fireworks against the dark night’s sky and as we tucked in, I couldn’t help the overwhelming sensation of gratitude for being able to experience such an incredible day with some of my favourite people.
We all sang along to a rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ played from a nearby speaker as Harrie’s Mille-Feuille Birthday Cake was brought out by our lovely waiter with our last bottle of wine.
Our night ended with a glass of wine each, under the stars, looking out at the silent desert illuminated by the moon’s white light.
The perfect way to celebrate my besties’ Birthday – Scarabeo Desert Camp turned out to be everything I had dreamed of and more.