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Yoga in the Desert of Morocco with Michael Thurnherr

An Arabic proverb says: „The Desert cleanses the Soul.“

The desert is both powerful and challenging. Diving into it is an adventure and an experience that may change your life.

Our group will meet in Merzouga, on the border of the Sahara desert in the southeast of Morocco. This blooming oasis is located about 300km east of Marrakech, behind the Atlas Mountains near the border to Algeria. 

On Saturday morning, October 28, we will trek by camel through the dunes of Erg Chebbi to the Sahara Yoga Camp where the Oussidi family will be waiting for us. They will take care of our group and treat us to delicious Berber specialties during our six days in the desert camp.

We will start the days with the sound of the gong and a warm cup of tea in silence.
At sunrise and sunset we will practice yoga asana, meditation and pranayama with Michael Thurnherr - either on a platform under the open sky with a view into the endless vastness of the desert, or protected from the sun and wind in a comfortable and large wooden tent.
In between the yoga and meditation sessions we rest, read, go for a walk or horse ride in the dunes and soak in the beauties and silence of this vast and calming surrounding. 

One morning we will climb a high sand dune to watch the sunrise and enjoy the view and silence of the desert. It will be one of the many unforgettable experiences of this week!
The days will end in community around the campfire under the stars, listening to the drums, songs and stories of our local hosts. 
If you like you can camp with your mattress and blankets under the open sky.

"This journey into the desert and into the depths of silence is something very special. Many different traditions try to capture the unique qualities of the desert in their tales and stories. They all have one thing in common: the fascination about something that cannot be named or be put into words! This is what we will experience and will have its effect on us during these days - both individually and as a group. Let yourself be touched! I am very happy to go on this journey with you.“ 
Michael Thurnherr

This Video of Sahara Yoga gives you some impressions of the desert camp. 

Basic yoga experience is required to participate in this yoga journey. Michael will teach in German.

 

This yoga retreat at Merzouga and the desert camp of Sahara Yoga in the South East of Morocco will be offered from October 27, through November 4, 2023.


The Teacher
Michael Thurnherr was first introduced to the tradition of Yoga by Yogi Shyamlal in 1997 in Pushkar, India. Over the years, he let himself be inspired by various yoga traditions and teachers such as Doug Keller, Mansoor, Katchie Ananada and John Friend.
It is of great importance to Michael to incorporate the spiritual dimension of yoga in his teaching and to make it possible for students to experience it. He complements the non-dual tantric philosophy with his experience as a follower of the Lassalle-Glassman Zen lineage. Each exercise becomes a creative expression of the heart, intermingling precision, harmony and deep feeling. 
Michael runs the Yogaloft in Rapperswil-Jona with his wife Lina and regularly teaches workshops and retreats. In addition, he runs his design studio 2ND WEST in Rapperswil full-time. He is the father of two adult children.


The Host
Barak Oussidi has been practicing yoga and reiki for over 20 years. He is the founder of Sahara Yoga and, for more than 10 years, he is leading several yoga groups per year to the desert of Morocco. He and his large family will accompany and take care of our group from arrival to and departure from Merzouga.
Barak was born in Merzouga and grew up with 14 siblings, his father founded the village in 1949. At the age of 13, Barak wandered to the north of Morocco by himself, in search for work. In 2001, he moved to Germany for love. He trained as a male nurse in Kiel, where he still works a few months per year in a heart clinic (he is therefore best trained for medical emergencies). The rest of the year he spends with his family in Merzouga.
Barak is strongly committed to the sustainable development of Merzouga. Among many other projects, he founded the Association for Sustainable Tourism in Desert Areas and established the Merzouga Children's Project, which provides access to education for over 300 preschool children.
Barak is building bridges between cultures. He speaks German very well. With knowledge, heart and humour, he will introduce our group to the traditional culture of the Berber tribes and the magic of Morocco.


The Accommodations
In Merzouga we will be lodged at the Hotel Kanz Erremal, at the base of the desert dunes. It is a basic hotel built with mud and hay in the typical kasbah style. The large swimming pool offers an amazing view into the dunes.
At the desert camp, we will sleep in simple yet lovely, round Berber tents (double occupation max). The tents are arranged in a wide circle around the campfire. They offer beds with good mattrasses. Bed linens and small towels are offered as well. 
This year, Sahara Yoga has planted more than 600 bushes and palm trees so that the camp will become an oasis over time. The desert camp is endowed with solar power and fresh, running water. It offers several sinks, flushing toilets and showers with cold water. There are several places and hammocks to rest in the shade during the day. In addition, a large wooden tent is availble for yoga, gathering or resting. 
The Vegetarian and Vegan meals are always fresh and cooked in a separate kitchen tent. Depending on the temperature and the weather conditions, the group will eat outdoors in the shade or in the dining tent. 
There is mobile signal in the desert camp, but no wifi. We strongly recommend to use your mobile phone only in urgent cases. Take the opportunity for a few days of 'digital detox'! 

 

The Program (changes may apply)

The retreat will officially start on Saturday morning, October 28, 2023 at 8 am with the group breakfast and will end on Friday evening, November 3, 2023 after our dinner at the Hotel Kanz Erremal.

Thursday, October 26, 2023 or Friday, October 27, 2023/Arrival:
Individual flight to Casablanca and late evening flight to Errachidia. Afterwards group transfer to the Hotel Kanz Erremal in Merzouga by car (about 2 hour drive). You will arrive at the hotel by 2-3 am.
Check-in and overnight stay at the hotel.
Alternatively, you can travel by public bus from Marrakech to Merzouga during the day (you will then be picked up at the bus stop).
If you have booked the extra night and will arrive already on Thursday, October 26, you can spend the following day according to your needs, rest at the hotel and tune in to the desert.


Saturday, October 28, 2023:
Breakfast at the hotel with view into the dunes / Camel trekking to the desert camp (about 2.5 hours) / Lunch and settling in at the camp / Opening circle / Yoga practice / Dinner 

Sunday, October 29, to Thursday, November 2, 2023:
Daily two extended yoga sessions and three meals at the desert camp. The rest of the day will be free to spend according to individual needs and desires

Friday, November 3, 2023:
Yoga practice and breakfast at the camp / Camel trekking back to Merzouga / Guided tour through the oasis, traditional Berber lunch at the family Oussidi’s private house, visit of the local Children's Project and of a local Berber cooperative offering traditional arts and craft / Closing circle, dinner and overnight stay at the hotel

Saturday, November 4, 2023/Departure: 
Early morning check-out and group transfer to the airport Errachidia (resp. to the bus station for those, who travel to Marrakech by bus) / Individual continuation of travel 


Price per person / Additional charge
CHF 1’890.- with accommodation in double room/2-bed tent

Services included 
•  Accommodation for 8 nights (2 nights in a double room at the Hotel Kanz Erremal in Merzouga, 6 nights in a 2-bed tent at the desert camp) 
•  Breakfasts and dinners in Merzouga, vegetarian full board at the desert camp 
•  Airport group transfer on the arrival and departure day / optionally transfer from/to the bus station
•  2 camel trekkings (about 2.5 hours each)
•  about 4 hours of Yoga Asana/Pranayama/Meditation per day (except on the day of arrival and departure)
•  Berber lunch with family Oussidi on Friday, November 3, 2023
•  Donation of EUR 15.- per person to the Children's Project in Merzouga 

Services not included
•  All flight cost
•  private transfers from/to the airport
•  additional, optional activities in the camp (if available) such as horse back rides or massages
•  Beverages (water and hot tea will be served for all meals at the desert camp. Additionally, bottled drinking water will always be available. Before leaving the camp, we will count all empty bottles and divide by the number of participants. Expect to pay about EUR 15.- per person for the water)
•  Tips (voluntary, recommended amount about EUR 50.- per participant)

Additional charge
EUR 450.- for a single room/tent (limited number, first come-first served)
EUR 50.- for the extra night at the Hotel Kanz Erremal from October 26 to 27, 2023 in a double room, incl. breakfast and dinner / EUR 70.- for single accommodation


Travel
You can either fly to Casablanca. Iberia, Royal Air Maroc or TAP Air Portugal offer several options. Royal Air Maroc offers a direct flight from Geneva.
From Casablanca domestic flight to Errachidia, arrival shortly after midnight. 
The itinerary of the journey is based on the Royal Air Maroc flight schedule.

If you wish, our travel partner Hotelplan will take care of booking your flights and is also available for further requests. Please contact zuerich-limmatplatz@hotelplan.ch or phone +41 44 277 70 60 (ask for Markus Anderegg and mention this yoga-to-go journey).

As an option, you can also fly to Marrakech and spend a few days in this vibrant city before or after the retreat and take the public bus to Merzouga - or return to Marrakech by bus from Merzouga. The journey takes about 12 hours; the landscape is said to be extraordinarily beautiful. If you wish, Sahara Yoga will give you further information on this or even book the bus ticket for you.
You can also contact Sahara Yoga anytime for the extension of your stay in Morocco with or without a private driver/guide.


Booking / Further Terms and Notes
Please book your space online via the Sahara Yoga Website.
If you wish a single room add this option to your registration.
If you want to book the extra night please e-mail Sahara Yoga.
For questions regarding the booking process please contact Sahara Yoga, for all other questions please contact Valérie, Yoga-to-go.


It is the responsibility of each participant to book their flights and to inform themselves about flight changes and immigration regulations for Morocco. These are the actual requirement to enter Morocco.

Once the retreat is confirmed, the participants will receive detailed information on what to bring and what to consider for their stay in the desert camp. See useful information here...

The retreat requires a minimum of 8 participants to take place.

EU- and Swiss citizens need no tourist visa for Morocco, however, a return ticket has to be presented on request. Your passport must be valid until six months after your travel date. 

Insurance is your own responsibility. We strongly recommend a travel insurance (including coverage of cancellation costs and travel incidents), as well as a health and accident insurance with sufficient coverage.
The facilitators/the teacher shall not be held liable for any damage to, or loss of, property or injury to persons. The participant waives any claim against the facilitators/the teacher for any such loss, damage, injury, or death.

This retreat is organized and accompanied by Sahara Yoga in cooperation with yoga-to-go Valérie LutzThe General Terms and Conditions of Sahara Yoga apply.

We support the voluntary compensation of CO2 emissions caused by airplane flights. With your payment to e.g. the Swiss NPO Myclimate you can compensate the carbon footprint of your flights. Your offset payment will support national and international, high-quality climate protection projects.