Tourists hoping to camp out under the stars in the world’s largest hot desert will no longer be able to do so after Morocco’s government unexpectedly banned desert camping.

The surprise closure of desert camps in Morocco’s Merzouga region began last week when the government hired workers to start dismantling camping sites from the Sahara’s Erg Chebbi dunes.

According to Morocco World News, some 12 camps have already been removed, despite tourists bookings secured until late 2020.

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Image: Makenna Entrikin/Unsplash

Camp owners say they weren’t given a reason for the sudden closures, however, the Intrepid Group’s Regional Product Manager, Europe and Morocco, Steph Millington, said they were advised that it was due to “environmental reasons”.

Tour operators with clients booked to camp out in the Sahara are seeking alternatives, while others such as Intrepid say they are experiencing “no significant impact” as many itineraries are booked in non-prohibited areas.

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Camel riding in the Sahara is unaffected by the camping ban. Image: Savvas Kalimeris/Unsplash

“There is no significant impact on Intrepid Travel or Peregrine Adventures trips as many of our itineraries already stay in camps beside but not inside the now prohibited area.”

Steph Millington, Intrepid Group Regional Product Manager, Europe & Morocco

“We are working with our local operations team to secure space at these alternative Sahara camps where necessary. Camel rides will remain inside the dunes.”

Meanwhile, affected camp owners say their finances are at stake with the government taking away thousands of tourists dollars by closing the experience.

 

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