It took less than an hour, but the drive from Marrakech to Scarabeo Camp transported us from the hustle-and-bustle of a busy city to a place entirely removed from civilization.
Our stay at the Scarabeo Desert Camp started in the heart of the Marrakech’ Medina, where we were picked up by the Scarabeo team and loaded up into a 4×4. And we arrived at the camp soon after the landscape changed from the urban to the deserted. But the impression of being far from civilization was not only the first, superficial observation.
The camp, set up in a temporary location, is organized around the concept of simple luxury. The emphasis is put on good service, hearty cuisine, and a range of activities — but the chic tents are basic. And it’s part of the charm of Scarabeo’s “desert luxury.”
The magic formula of Scarabeo
The empty, imposing landscape of the arid, moon-like Agafay desert with the Atlas Mountain range on the horizon makes a beautiful location to the white tents, sharply contrasted with the dramatic colors of the wasteland.
The Scarabeo Camp embraces its desert location, creating a pure hotel experience with the simplicity of desert life at its core. The design creates a feeling of being part of an expedition from the golden age of explorers. It’s a trip to uncomplicated times. From evening bonfires to the aroma of fresh bread carried in the cold air of the early morning, the luxury desert camp Scarabeo immerses their guests in the serenity and magic of camping in the desert.
Scarabeo Project has been dreamed up by a couple from Belgium, the photographer Vincent T’Sas and graphic designer Florence Mottet. Their creative background is certainly behind the success of the Scarabeo’s concept.
The tents are simple, but their interiors are tastefully decorated. Inspired by some of the best African lodge design, the style of the camp is notable by its restraint. This makes it different from what could be expected from a typical “Moroccan” design, overwhelmed with patterns and fabrics.
The Belgian founders of Scarabeo made the simple luxury style one of the main attractions of the camp. The design matches the landscape in tonal purity of the natural materials: white tents and bedding, caramel-leather chairs, travel artifacts, Moroccan lanterns, bleached-wood, weaved floors mats, biscuit-colored cushions.
“Perhaps the best way of describing Scarabeo Camp is [its] magic formula: a charming bivouac of oriental-inspired tents, following the rhythm of the seasons”
— Vincent T’Sas and Florence Mottet
The camp is located less than an hour’s drive from Marrakesh; however, its exact location can vary — there are two different sites where the camp gets set up. The location depends on the season, making the best out of warmer temperatures.
In winter, the tents are pitched right in the hear of the Agafay desert, but in summer, the temperatures go up way too high. The stone desert heat becomes unbearable. In these months, the camp moves a few kilometers, to escape into the shade of a eucalyptus grove.
In our opinion
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- For us, the first best thing about staying at the Scarabeo Camp was the experience of sleeping in the silence of the desert, with only a canvas separating us from the starry night. (And the sunsets and sunrises were events for which we waited in anticipation.)
- The second thing is the cuisine. Food was beyond excellent. Dinners here are served in a communal tent and are a fun affair that includes entertainment.
- The desert, in the middle of the day, is hot. Really, really hot. And the tents didn’t offer much in the way of protection. Yes, we had a fan inside, and it helped, but only just.
- The Scarabeo Camp is a great idea, especially when combined with a few hectic few days in Marrakech — but probably for one night only.
- If you associate a desert with sandy dunes, you won’t find them here. But if you’ve experienced sandy deserts many times before and are looking for something different, then the Agafay desert will be a nice new adventure.
For more information, visit the Scarabeo website.
Photos © TravelPlusStyle.com and Scarabeo Camp.