Thursday December 7th, 2023
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Morocco’s Azalaï is an Ode to Paths Trodden Time & Time Again

With four eco-lodges echoing a different murmur of history, Azalaï Life Experience is an ode to Morocco’s unyielding beauty.

Ziyad El-Helbawy

Over the centuries, travellers throughout the North African plateau have ventured far and wide throughout the continent atop camels, connecting myriad cultures, tribes, and cities through trade and exchange. Many routes were traversed, with some becoming staple routes that saw thousands of desert dwellers swirling its sands for decades and centuries. Amongst these routes is Azalaï.

Often embarked on twice a year, the age-old salt route connects vast and sporadic destinations along the western North African Sahara from the Atlas mountains to the edge of the Sahara. Rarely in use today, the historic trade route has now lent its name to another Sahran venture offering an experience that finds its roots in history.

Conceived by Moroccan wandering soul Bouchaïb Harmouzi who sought to pay homage to his homeland and give nomads far and wide a proper Moroccan adventure, Morocco’s Azalaï Life Experience seeks to provide an extended dosage of exactly that; a slow, authentic life experience. Holding the North African values of hospitality near and dear, this new-age Azalaï stretches from the Atlantic Coastline to the Southern Moroccan Desert with four distinct stays, each echoing a different murmur of history and culture, culminating in a synergetic and veritable representation of Morocco’s diverse landscapes and rich ways of life.

Azalaï Desert Lodge

Zagora, Southern Morocco

Nestled in the heart of the world’s largest Palm Grove stretching over 200 kilometres across the Draa Valley, the Azalaï Desert Lodge was crafted with sand-side tranquillity in mind. Offering a luxury experience in the midst of the Sahara, the Azalaï Desert Lodge is an exclusive retreat with eight rooms, each with its own refined feel inspired by the journals of many travel writers from around the world, such as Paul Bowles, Henri Matisse, Odette du Puigaudeau and Antoine de Saint Exupéry.

From the sky-blue-hued ‘Discovery’ room to the earth-toned ‘Traveler’ room, the Azalaï Desert Lodge seems to emanate history from its very walls. The property houses a vast garden connecting all the rooms, with a lounge area, swimming pool, and no shortage of verdant views to transport the mind far, far away.

Given the lodge’s proximity to Zagora and the Draa Valley, guests can break out of their routine and visit the abundant markets, as well as a museum that offers a direct immersion into the region’s arts, culture, and craftsmanship.

The Azalaï Desert Lodge is open from September to May.

Azalaï Desert Camp

Chigaga Dunes, Morocco

Proclaimed by Azalaï as the “perfect place for contemplation,” the Azalaï Desert Camp is as secluded as it is serene. Only accessible with a 4x4 from the M’Hamid town, the camp is a place where time simply stops amidst the most beautiful and mesmerising dune regions of the continent. 

A truly bedouin experience, the camp brings guests back to basics, inviting visitors to live life as the region’s indigenous folks have for aeons. A congregation of seven tents equipped with suitable modern-day amenities, the camp’s experience can be summed up in three simple words; tea, tranquillity and ‘Taguella’. 

The Azalaï Desert Camp is open from September to May.

Azalaï Beach Camp

Cape Beddouza cliffs, Morocco

Perhaps for those not quite desert-inclined, the Azalaï Beach Camp presents the sort of glamping retreat that many who seek such stays have become accustomed to, and yet contains within its walls a richer narrative. Built at the foot of the Cape Beddouza Cliffs facing the Atlantic Ocean, Azalaï’s beach camp is an ode to the waves themselves, and all they have witnessed throughout history. 

With four tents offering the best of both worlds - history and modern amenities - Azalaï’s eco-friendly canvas tents are all that stand between you and the endless echo of the ocean’s crashing waves. Immersing guests in a local seaside life experience, the beach camp offers beachside picnics, fresh fish, and the promise of a calm mind brought by the ebb and flow of the water.

The Azalaï Desert Camp is open from June to September.

Azalaï Beach Cottage

Cape Beddouza cliffs, Morocco

Near the Azalaï Beach Camp, the Azalaï Beach Cottage enjoys the same setting as its camp counterpart, and yet offers a more contemporary 21st century style boutique-hotel stay. 

Once more contemplating the ocean, the cottage is similar to the Azalaï Desert Camp in the sense that it also draws its spirit and architecture from the oceanic adventures of travel writers.  With nine suites carrying apt names like ‘Sensation’, ‘Shelter’ and ‘Getaway’, the cottage invites guests to “stray by the sea.” And if perhaps the world outside the cottage beckons, proximity to the town of ‘Safi’ will lead you to winding alleyways filled with a centuries old Portuguese fortress and long roads lined with potters and artisans of all sorts.

The Azalaï Desert Camp is open all year round.

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