Morocco: Chevauchée du Désert
GREAT DESTINATION, GREAT DREAM
After my tours in Italy, I start planning a wonderful horse trekking in the Moroccan Desert at the end of the year.
After consulting various websites, I wrote to a very famous and important Tour Operator for horse trekking in the world, asking for information on equestrian trekking in that desert during the Christmas holidays.
To my great disappointment and sadness, the Italian representative of the English Tour Operator told me that I cannot attend due to my limited experience on horseback.
I did not talk to anyone; I lived my disappointment and tried to find something different for the period that interests me. Nevertheless, I did not find anything, too far away, too expensive or not suitable for beginners.
I couldn’t stand the thought of having to stay at home and not to set out on this wonderful journey – dreamed since September – I looked for an alternative, of course!
This time, to my great joy, I found a riding school in Morocco, at Essaouira, that offers the same horse trekking! I could not believe it. I started reading about this place, watching photos, videos, looking all feedbacks. After that, I sent an email.
The owners of this ranch are a young couple of a Moroccan boy and an Italian girl from Modena, Erika, who during a period of stay in Morocco felt in love with him and decided to live together, to get married, to create a family and to become member of the ranch. The place where they live is beautiful, on the Atlantic Ocean, with many opportunities of various types of horse riding, from one-day up to seven-day horse trekking on Arabians
During the winter, they move with horses in the Moroccan desert, at Zagora, the city from where the tours depart. Usually, they organize seven-day horse trekking in the desert for two months.
I speak, I write, I fire endless questions at Erika and to who I demand adequate answers in order to be able to understand whether it is appropriate to participate considering my equestrian inexperience.
I got the answers I want; they are true or only in part because dictated by the need to have a customer. Above all, do not be afraid. Follow and completely rely on the guide and respect the rules of the tour.
Well done!!! I’m happy … I begin to plan for my great dream: horse trekking on Arabians in the Moroccan desert. Do I need to add anything else?
I continue my lessons in Italy to improve my level and to prepare myself for this new and exciting experience.
Planning the trip: what should I bring?
It was in November on my birthday when I received only gifts related to the riding industry; perfect, I started to have good equipment.
Time had quickly between work, riding lessons and training, until the day I had to go away on holyday and set out on the Moroccan journey.
So many thoughts, so many questions, so many uncertainties, and a bit of everything … I prepared everything I need, I went to the airport and I departed for Morocco.
During the flight, I was a little anxious but the emotion that takes over me is … the joy!
I arrived at the Ouarzazate airport, where a driver picked me up and took me to the Hotel Riad where I met the other horse trekking participants. A little of excitement, of curiosity, of everything I would say…
I got ready for dinner and went to the pool bar where I saw a small group drinking aperitifs, chatting, laughing, and joking. Yes, here they are! I got closer and understood immediately that they were waiting for me; I was only one who was missing. We are of seven different nationalities: from Italy, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, France, Canada, and Morocco … How marvelous! Such a mix of everything! … Men, women, cultures, and languagesof all kinds … everything was ready for a wonderful adventure in the desert.
The following day we went to see the assigned horses according to the degree of our riding level. There are Arabians … Help! Help! … They are not simple horses … my agitation had aroused, but the excitement of what I would do exceeded all my difficulties.
Three persons loaded a van with all we needed for dinner and night: food for us and for the horses, bags with our belongings, tents, blankets … Everything you needed to set up camp for the night.
We got ready for the horse trekking. Let us go! We were a group of seven plus three guides, well organized!
The places, the places we cross, and the sunsets stand before us. Very beautiful! Moroccan desert! From Zagora we made a round trip through the mountain, through rocky and sandy desert and oasis … we slept in a tent in the desert. It was the end of the year and the temperature during the day is around 15°C while at night it drops to -2°C! Help! Tent, sleeping bag, duvet, snood … we are really well-equipped. There are no bathrooms, only “en plein air” under the stars that creates a unique show at night. We forgot the cold looking at the beauty of the sky, with the stars that illuminate the view and surround us, almost seems to touch us. What more could you want?
The days were scheduled as follow: alarm clock at 7.30 a.m., some hot water to wash the face, a substantial breakfast … Better than a 5-star hotel, I would say. Then we went to prepare the horses, to curry and saddle them. After fed and watered them we were set to go and to discover always enchanting and different landscapes …
Your heart starts pounding while climbing a mountain of rocks. I do not understand how these horses are able to climb. The inclination of the terrain is so great and the rocks are big and slippery … until you reach the top, where the valley offered a grandiose view. They catch your breath. A valley that extends all around … You can feel dizzy because we are really on the cliff.
We climbed down leading the horses by hand on the path along the mountain wall until a place where we could ride again. Then we stopped for the lunch … a picnic on the mountain.
In the afternoon, we arrived at the camp. All ready! Our “three angels” welcomed us with hot tea and biscuits. We chatted, shared emotions, laughed, joked, and helped each other. The cohesion created between us is amazing – to say the least. Our guides are brilliant, always ready to help us, encourage us, for not to mention their professionalism demonstrated throughout the whole trip.
What to say about the dinners? I never ate “the Moroccan tagine”. There are so delicious, cooked at once. Very good bread, fresh fruit and dates … nothing was missing.
Another memorable day began when we arrived in the desert with sand dunes up right before our eyes, high and beautiful as those seen on television. Cross the dunes on horseback: how great experience! Just feeling the soft sand, our horses wanted to throw themselves down and roll up… Therefore, not knowing it before, some of us have fallen down … without getting hurt, of course … it was just a new experience.
It’s so exciting seeing the horses playing in the dunes: as they sink, being difficult for them to walk on the surface, they start at a gallop with an astonishing power in order to confront the dune … It was a mix of emotions that I can no longer forget.
Telling each day story would be too much, because I should write a book not an article! Even now, I remember the beautiful moments spent both on the horseback and on the ground, the total sharing with other participants, the incredible linguistic variety by which we relate: English, French, Italian, and Arabic. Everyone always showed off a delighted smile and the desire to discover and to experience this fascinating horse trekking in the desert.
It has remained a beautiful friendship; we are still in touch today and try sometimes to organize something together.
How not to live such an experience: horses, people, landscapes, food, harmony, sharing beautiful moments with the others.
Would you be my next fellow traveller?