Habitas Opens A Luxe Desert Camp In Morocco

Luxe glamping in Morocco’s red Sahara dunes is an experience in that country that shouldn’t be missed but for those who don’t have the time or inclination to travel several hours south of Marrakech, there’s another worthwhile experience only 45 minutes out. The Agafay Desert is often used as a calming day trip from the bustling alleyways and crowds of that popular city. But with the opening October 1st of Caravan Agafay by the eco-hospitality group Habitas, there is now a camp overlooking this rocky desert and the Atlas Mountains that meets upscale international standards for an overnight stay. The aim isn’t just to create a lodging experience, though, but a creative, imaginative, playful one drawing inspiration from this natural environment.

“Following the recent success of Caravan AlUla, we felt now was the time to grow this immersive concept into a new continent,” explains Oliver Ripley, Co-Founder & CEO of Habitas describing the developing tourism project in Saudi Arabia, the latest in the company’s portfolio which also include properties in Mexico and Namibia. “And we were drawn to the striking landscape of Agafay.”

Overlooking the moonscape vistas, the 12 acre property features 20 accommodations overall, both individual lodges with en suite bathrooms and more rustic Explorer tents all decorated with furniture and decorative items such as rugs, pottery and cushions sourced from local artisan cooperatives based in the Atlas Mountains along with the Marrakech souks. The king beds have hotel suite worthy mattresses and fine linens, the bathrooms have organic bath amenities and those who need to be connected can be since the tents have WiFi. But guests should be outdoors, reclining in Berber furniture on their stone terraces watching the stars—or the occasional movie in the outdoor desert cinema.

During the day, guests can swim in the two pools, ride horses or camels (hopefully good-tempered ones; they aren’t always) from the resort’s private stables, learn desert survival skills, practice yoga, meditation or mindfulness, experience musical performances or learn about Bedouin traditions. There is also an option to visit local Berber villages supported by Habitas RISE, the company’s impact initiative intended to support local communities, create jobs and give back to local environmental and social causes. Staying at Caravan Agafay also enhances the RISE fund: $10 will be contributed for every guest in residence.

Dining on Moroccan specialties is one of the pleasures of a visit anywhere in this country and that also applies here. Dishes prepared on open fires include fish with chermoula sauce, bean puree, roasted peppers, lemon, greens and olive tapenade; chicken tabsa-roasted chicken with crispy onions, roasted tomatoes, toasted almonds, crispy garlic, confit leeks, black lime, tahini and harissa oil; and pumpkin couscous with celery root, spinach, chard, basil, broccoli, crispy garlic, pumpkin and orange dressing. Breakfasts span nationalities from the spicy tomato sauced baked egg dish shakshuka with farm vegetables to a spinach and cheese omelette to pineapple/banana smoothies and avocado toast.

Since the location fits in smoothly with the Habitas ethos of furthering human connections, creating shared authentic experiences and making a positive impact on local communities, an approach the company is expanding elsewhere in Mexico, Costa Rica and Bhutan in the coming months, Oliver Ripley is also looking at other locations here. “This project marks our first in Morocco,” he explains, “but we have exciting plans to expand inside the country very soon.”

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