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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 don’t 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 that’s produced in Morocco (and a lot of things made in China and India, too), and at night there’s 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 it’s 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 there’s 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 won’t be running water and bathrooms.
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; it’s like being in another world.
Retreat will have a focus on meditation and the joy of dance. 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.
Apart from the meditation 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. It’s up to you how you experience the retreat. Either way you’ll be blown away by the majestic dunes, the brightness of the stars in the desert and the magic of the Sahara. The schedule of retreat will be as follows:
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), Saïss Airport or Fes-Saïss 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 January 24, 2016.
From Saïss Airport or Fes-Saïss 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 Sète 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.
The Road Junky Retreat representative will pick you up from Merzouga on the Sunday evening at 21:00.
There will be very relaxed vibe on the retreat and there’s no obligation to take part in any of the workshops. If you just want to walk in the dunes all day and come back at mealtimes, that’s fine. The idea is for everyone to find their own rhythm according to their needs.
No experience is needed and the aikido will be taught together with the dance expression as Durward and Anni work together to help find new ways to move.
The weather is quite unpredictable so it’s best to cover all eventualities.
During the day it can reach 25 degrees but the sun is quite strong so you can usually wear a cotton scarf on the head.
At the coldest part of the night just before the dawn it can reach 3-4 degrees but you’ll be warm enough with a decent sleeping bag plus the mattress and blankets waiting for you in the camp.
You will be required to turn off your mobiles during the retreat.
The camp is in the dunes and is a basic affair but there are mattresses and blankets. You still need to bring a good sleeping bag to stay warm though.
A sleeping bag, maybe some lip salve, some books to read, instruments and any medication you may need.
Below is some information on the flights to Morocco:
Ryanair flies to Marrakesh or Fez from Alicante, Bologna, Brussels (Charleroi), Dusseldorf (Weeze), Eindhoven, Frankfurt-Hahn, Girona (Barcelona), London (Luton), Madrid, Marseille, Milan (Bergamo), Paris Beauvais, Pisa, Porto, Reus (Barcelona), Rome (Ciampino), Seville and Valencia
Easyjet flies to Marrakesh from London Gatwick, Manchester, Milan, Lyon, Freiburg, Geneva and Paris. Easyjet also flies to Agadir from London, Lyon, Paris and Berlin.
The easiest way to look for a flight is to use www.skyscanner.net or www.momondo.com.
If you don’t see a direct cheap flight consider flying via London, Milan or Basel – you’ll probably find a combination of Ryanair, Wizzair and Easyjet solutions. If you really can’t find a cheap flight to Morocco write to Road Junky Retreat and they will see what they can find!
Road Junky Retreat can also reserve the bus tickets from Marrakech to Merzouga for you and also tickets back.
Alcohol is not allowed in order to keep the consciousness high on this retreat.
There will also be first aid kits on hand and in the case of an emergency you can be taken out to the nearest medical center by quad.
For more information, ask your questions directly to Road Junky Retreat, who will be happy to assist you. Simply click on the Send Inquiry button to send a message.
Durward Burrell will be teaching the art of meditation each morning, helping to find the spaces between your thoughts and connect with who you are beyond the surface agitation of habitual mental chatter and worries.
While this is a meditation retreat, you won’t be jumping up at 04:00 to chant mantras; rather, you will have the morning group meditation for those who wish to join and also when you climb the high dune in silence at sunset. The retreat has more of a gentle focus on mindfulness and connecting with the heart through all of our activities. You’ll find that just being in the Sahara increases the awareness of your mind, your breath, and your feelings. Just taking a walk in the dunes is like a meditation.
Durward will also be running aikido workshops in the afternoon. Aikido can be seen as the art of negotiating the challenges you face in your lives and creating a middle way between resistance and surrender. Through gentle physical exercises, Durward will show you how to bring the mindfulness of meditation into each of your movements.
Elisa Ghion will be teaching contact improvisation dance in the afternoons. There are no steps and no experience is needed, just a willingness to listen, feel and discover. Elisa brings a playful, spontaneous spirit to the dance and were guaranteed to have a lot of fun even as we learn and discover.
While there will be some meat served, there will always be vegetarian and vegan food so there’s 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.
"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