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The Sahara retreat is quite unique as every year an eclectic mix of travelers, students, professionals and free spirits come together for a week in the dunes to disconnect with their busy lives and just be there with each other. Every year, people open up as the week goes along and everyone leaves as a slightly different person. The meditation, yoga, dance and voice workshops help a lot in giving people another perspective and new tools to use in their everyday lives, but in a few words the retreat is all about opening the heart.
There are 25 places available for each retreat and your package includes everything from when you meet in Merzouga on the Sunday with Road Junky retreat representative until you return from the desert on the Saturday afternoon.
Many people coming to the retreat dont consider staying in a hotel as they imagine it would be similar to European prices but a room in a Moroccan hotel can be as cheap as 60 MAD (about 5.5 EUR). Almost everyone ends up finding accommodation around the main square of Jem Ef Na which is the gateway to the medina side streets where you can buy just about anything thats produced in Morocco (and a lot of things made in China and India, too), and at night theres a pop-up restaurant area there with plenty of cheap, tasty food.
There are hundreds of hotels down the many side streets and even if you have a recommendation for a good place to stay its pretty hard to actually find it! That said, here are 3 names:
The cost of room in hotel Mimosa is 80 MAD for single and 150 for double. It has a rooftop where you can watch the sunset and theres a shower with warmish water.
If you want more of a hostel atmosphere with people being social and chatting and sharing experiences then the Rainbow Hostel might be good for you. Dormitory beds, but prices need to be checked with hotel.
This hotel is more luxury option for 30 EUR a night but comfortable and well-run.
As already mentioned, there are tons of options so you can arrive to Marrakech without a reservation and just walk down some alleyways until you find a hotel that meets your budget and expectations.
Monday Morning, you will head for the camp in Sahara desert for the retreat. The camp of Road Junky Retreat is in the dunes and is a basic affair but there are mattresses and blankets. You still need to bring a good sleeping bag (or two bad ones!) to stay warm though. You can also just grab your mattress and go to sleep out under the stars.
Water is precious in the desert so the best way to wash is to take a bowl and a cloth and give yourself a sponge bath at a discreet distance. Or else, you can just wait for a shower when you head back to town. Please bear in mind that there wont be running water and bathrooms.
Retreat will have a focus on yoga and dance or contact improvisation. Apart from the yoga and dance, the retreat is also a place to take some time out to think and walk in the desert, tell stories around the fire and make some music with 20 other interesting people from around the world. Its up to you how you experience the retreat. Either way, youll be blown away by the majestic dunes, the brightness of the stars in the desert and the magic of the Sahara.
After meeting in Merzouga, you will drive to Hasalbied for dinner. On Monday, you will put your bags on the camels and walk out to the camp for the welcome circle. From Tuesday to Saturday, you will be busy with workshops, music and storytelling in the dunes. After this, you will walk back into town on Saturday itself, arriving at 14:00.
The schedule of retreat will be as follows:
Anni Taskula will guide you through a joyful dance improvisation on the dunes. You will find inspiration to dance from both within and without; guided by inner impulses found through shaking, breathing, voice and touch, we will also be inspired by the surrounding earth, wind and sky.
To discover the joy of dance you will tune into a certain space in your minds that resonates with the emptiness of the desert. Then you’ll explore movement through improvisation tools from contemporary dance, contact improvisation and butoh.
Morgan Palmer Hubbard will be teaching yoga in the mornings and will take you deeper into the journey of yoga whether youre stretching out for the first time or have a steady practice. With Hatha yoga and kirtan chanting, youll be nice and loose for the contact improvisation in the afternoons.
Morgan emphasises a non-dogmatic approach with traditional yoga for the modern body. He says, In my classes, we develop an internally nourishing practice that is accessible, safe, fluid yet challenging, and energising afterwards. Through mobilizing our spine, learning to work actively in and out of postures, cultivating a relaxed and regenerating state in the body, and focusing the mind, we can guide and support the development of our whole being.
This retreat will take place in Morocco in Sahara desert. The desert will be the perfect place for transformative experiences on a personal level. Just watching the moon rise at the same time as the sun sets, casting new nuances of shadow over the dunes, watching scarab beetles leave tiny tracks across the sand; its like being in another world.
While there will be some meat served, there will always be vegetarian and vegan food so theres no chance of going hungry. You will be eating traditional Morocco cuisine with bread, jam, olives and tea in the morning, soup, biscuits and dates in the afternoon and huge plate of tajine at night and evening.
You need to be in Marrakech by Saturday, February 20, 2016 at the latest in order to catch the bus the next morning.
You need to buy your own flight to Morocco and you can get a return flight to Morocco for less than 100 EUR from most places in Europe and sometimes cheaper than that.
Your best bet is to fly into Marrakesh Menara Airport Marrakech (RAK), Sass Airport or Fes-Sass Airport (FEZ), Agadir Almassira Airport (AGA) or Mohammed V International Airport (CMN). From there, you catch a bus all the way to Merzouga where Road Junky Retreat representative will pick you up on the Sunday evening.
You can catch a night bus back from the desert the following Saturday so you could fly out again Sunday afternoon February 28, 2016.
From Sass Airport or Fes-Sass Airport (FEZ), you could even catch a night bus on the Saturday to Rissani and from there take a taxi to Hassalbied to meet Road Junky Retreat representative before walking out to the dunes. If you miss the bus, you could even make catch the night bus on the Sunday and catch us with us on the Monday morning before we load up the camels to go.
The only open border posts on land are the ones at the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. The frontier with Algeria has been closed for ten years. For the closest maritime connection, you head for Algeciras or Tarifa in southern Spain. At Algeciras, there are ferry services to Ceuta and Tangier that carry cars. Tarifa has a similar service to Tangier and this is the shortest and fastest route, just 35 minutes.
It's possible also to enter Mauritania by car from Dakhla. Most countries' citizens need a visa to get in Mauritania which is available at the Mauritanian embassy in Rabat (visas are no longer issued at the border).
It might be hard to get into Morocco with a commercial vehicle. Campervans are acceptable (but they must look like a camper van), but other commercial vehicles might get turned around and prevented from travelling onwards. If you want to take a commercial vehicle, and there is more than one person travelling, it may be worthwhile if a French-speaking person travels to any international border with Morocco of your choice and meets with the head of Customs before you bring in a commercial vehicle.
You can go overland and catch the ferry from Spain to Tangier and catch trains south.
There are several ferry connections to Morocco, mainly from Spain. Algeciras is the main port and serves Ceuta and Tangier. A ferry between Algeciras and Ceuta takes 40 minutes, and less than 2 hours to get to Tangier. You can also get to Tangier from the small port of Tarifa, on the southernmost tip of mainland Spain. This will take 35 minutes. Some companies run buses between Tarifa and Algeciras for free (25 minutes), so you will have no problems getting to the train station. Other Spanish ports that have connections to Morocco are Malaga and Almeria who connect to Melilla and its Moroccan neighbor town of Nador.
Ferries from France also go to Tangier, from the port of Ste near Montpellier and Port Vendres near Perpignan. However these ferries are rather expensive. The Italian towns of Genoa and Naples also have direct connections to Tangier. The British crown colony of Gibraltar connects to Tangier through a high-speed boat service.
"By the end of this retreat, I had the feeling that everyone was deeply connected with me. The amount of love and caring we shared for a week is something I never experienced before. I now consider the people from retreat as part of my family, and I am sure to reconnect and rekindle our love for each other when we meet next time somewhere on this planet."
Road Junky Retreat Website, edited
"In the evenings, we sat around the camp fire, sharing stories and poetry, discussing our reality, singing and dancing, sleeping under the full moon. We would climb one of the largest dunes for sunset and I would hang off of one side upside down, resulting in the birth of my tribe name, fruit bat. It is difficult to encapsulate the essence of the sun rising into the earth, with the moon setting into the sky, wisps of clouds like waves of an ocean below. It is for these moments that I realise why I love to travel; I yearn to enjoy all that the world has to offer."
January 2014. Road Junky Retreat Website, edited
"Silence is an abstract feeling. I am sitting here on a sand dune all alone, somewhere outside time and space, with no connection to the outside world, there is only here and now. Its a magical feeling to be in contact with nature, on natures principles. Accepting the silence and the emptiness and letting go of the control of life, just adapting to what is real, here and now."
Road Junky Retreat Website, edited
"The retreat allows you the time and space to pause, reflect, be alone, be with others, reconnect, laugh, sing and marvel at nature.For anyone whos wondered what it might have been like to live in a simpler time, this Sahara retreat is for you! In addition, while unplugged from your usual life, youll experience the profound effects of an information detox. Ive been twice and Ill be back."
Road Junky Retreat website, edited
"Once you are ready, The Roadjunky retreat calls you, you dont have to look for it. For me, after this week daily life with job, kids, friends, house, etc continues, but this retreat taught me to look different at these things. For a week, all unnecessary things are gone, and that feels good. No money, no advertising, no electronic, no internet, no credit cards, no phone calls, no emails, no bath, no real bed, no noise. did not miss anything of that. And imagine what I had in stead of that! But from time to time here in my daily life I really miss the feeling of not missing anything down there!;"
Road Junky Retreat website, edited
"A very positive, spiritually in-tune, warmly-social experience. Taking our watches off for five days was definitely a very good idea! It was immensely refreshing to live purely by the sun and the moon."
Road Junky Retreat website, edited
"I am here with my heart tribe, I thought. I reflected on how far I have travelled in my own personal process and was overwhelmed that I could be part of a warm and loving group of people, a fully fledged heart tribe member I was Am! I have wondered how such a group found its way into one anothers company. Tommy, who organised the retreat, has a radiant heart. Its openness glowed out from him in a way I have never experienced in a human. I wonder if the radiance from his heart acted as a lighthouse welcoming all the other little open hearts onto its island where we were welcomed with love and laughter.."
February 2014. Road Junky Retreat Website, edited