The Sahara Desert; the most spiritual place on earth.

the motoroamers

The Sahara Desert; the most spiritual place on earth.

I realise the title to this blog might be controversial and certainly not agreed with by everyone, although this is how it is for me. The Sahara desert is the most spiritual place on earth, let me share why I feel this way.

The moon over the sahara desert

I always get a sense of excitement when driving to Morocco’s Sahara. It’s when wafts of sand slide across the road like puffs of smoke I know it is close. That is the instant when deep in my soul I know I have arrived at my favourite landscape in the world. I have often had conversations, mostly with myself, although others sometimes too, where I ponder on the choice of ‘mountains or coast’. A bit like the 1990’s advert for McClain’s Oven Chips ‘Daddy or chips’. Well now the conundrum goes deeper. Mountains, coast or desert? They all give me something completely different. Yet the desert has the most holistic impact deep in my gut.

When I place my naked toes upon the golden sands my heart soars like an eagle. The coldness paradoxically warming my blood. It is less about the temperature, and more about the symbol that the desert offers me. Space, alone time, life, truly feeling like I am guest not the owner and a peace that is palpable. That’s before I even contemplate the creativity it ignites in me when I start to capture images with my camera.

Sahara camels

The gentle breeze is about the only noise to caress the silence, and for a blissful moment, I am still with my thoughts. The desert gives me permission to be alone, upon my very own dune. A place where I can caste my eyes across the unfolding waves of dunes and breathe in the stillness. In our crazy world, stillness is rare and so I grab it with both hands, soaking it up like a sponge in water.

It is the rising and the setting of the sun that has the most profound effect on me. Generally wherever I am, these times of day feel special as I get a huge wave of gratitude for the day to come or the day that’s past. Yet put me in the desert and the intensity increases exponentially. Climbing the virgin dunes that often times feel like a vertical travelator as the sand slides beneath my feet, I reach my vantage point. Sinking into the sand’s embrace, I sit and I wait. Around me caravans of tourists eager to capture the same moment in time, gather. Although their faint laughter somehow seems another world away from my picture perfect position.

Sahara desert sunrise

The sky slowly changes colour like a chameleon. The darkness giving way to the hues painted by the sun’s rising power. A rainbow of oranges, blues and indigos alter the vista, seemingly every minute and my eyes stare in wonder. When the noise of the world stops and you can be, then you have the chance to sink as deep into your own self as your body does into the sand.

It takes a matter of moments for the daylight to win over the darkness’s reign and this is when the desert changes its personality. Shadows emerge where the light can’t reach, yet there are gentle sparkles where the sun’s rays catch grains of sand, almost as if in an individual blessing. The warmth washes over me gently as the dawn becomes day. And one by one, beams of light radiate across the dunes in a display of dominance. And the desert responds by shifting its presence, one ray at a time. And the truth is, that if you watch the sun’s passage over the desert, a different impression would be cast; moment after moment. Now that is a truly magical experience.

Camel train in the Sahara desert

As the desert dances its natural rhythm, accompanied by the annoying buzz of the buggies that look to scale the pinnacle of each dune, momentarily the peace is disrupted. Then the sight of camels returning from the desert camps, brings me back to an earthly tranquility. Their awkward yet masterful gait just reminds me of how life was, is and has been in times past and present. Their desert roles have perhaps evolved although their purpose is protected albeit with a controversial shade.

At a macro level, the desert landscape is vast and impressionable. Views across to Algeria are within sight from the top of the Grand Dune. Yet it is the micro view that fascinates me, as my eyes track the tiny footsteps made by birds, insects and mammals that call this land home. Deserts so often have a reputation of being lifeless, devoid of any natural presence. Yet this could not be further from the truth. Beneath the surface wells of water lay dormant awaiting the needs of both man and beast. Plants grow, trees tower and animals survive thanks to the desert’s ability to sustain life.

Sunrise caravan in the Sahara desert.

The desert brings me home with the grace of a butterfly, allowing me to reflect, wonder and breathe. As an introvert, having the space for such inner presence is a precious thing. Claiming myself at the desert’s doorstep is a privilege and it serves to remind me how wonderful the earth is, despite our attempts to destroy it. Yet in that moment, thoughts of war, destruction or other manly pursuits are as far from my mind as the moon rising over the dunes. I wake up in the desert. I rest in the desert. My heart sings in the desert. My mind soars in the desert. It is here that I feel the sense of who I am without the impact of time nor tide. Check out our video below that shares intimate reflections about our desert journey.

For more insights on Morocco and our time in the desert, check out our blogs here and of course we have our YouTube channel playlist too.

Published: January 21, 2024
Category: Morocco | Travel


  1. Anna i Portugal

    Magic images! I am glad you are at a place where you can rest and sing!

    • Karen

      Thanks Anna. The desert definitely brings out my creativity. I love it here. Kx

  2. Craig Maude

    Beautiful words beautifully written…. We are making our way over to Merzouga…. To be honest the coast hasn’t done it for us, didn’t seem “ Real”…. As we drifted inland things slowly picked up and then we hit Imlil.
    At first another disappointment as we headed that way thinking about mountain roads to cycle…. Not quite !…. The one road up to Imlil is a mess of construction… but then once at Imlil surrounded by mountains and walking into the village it was like “ Yes” finally…. We could have stayed longer but time isn’t our friend on this trip, you know why 🙄…. So anyway…. Mountains definitely for us so far, next stop Merzouga and thinking about the place 55k out of town to escape the 4x and all motorised playthings ….. onwards 😘😘

    • Karen

      Hi Craig, yes I hear what you’re saying. I think Sidi Ifni, Agadir and Aglou Plage are all a bit plastic and geared towards the Europeans. However, Legzira, Oulidia and Sidi Kaouki are much more authentic and lovely. Interesting about Imlil, although don’t forget you are entering territory of the earthquake in September, so it would be full of construction repairing roads and villages. Merzouga is lovely despite the 4×4 and the Les Pyramides campsite south of Merzouga is really nice and not quite so touristy. A bit although not so much. You’ve got to hike up the Grande Dune! Enjoy and especially the mountains. Kx


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