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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 the next day, 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 practice Yoga asana, meditation and pranayama twice a day under the open sky, with a view into the endless vastness of the desert. In our free time, we rest, read, take a walk in the dunes and soak in the beauties and silence of this vast and calming surrounding. 

"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

The days will start with a tea ceremony in the heart of the desert camp, and end around the campfire under the stars where we will enjoy the remoteness of the place, our community as a group and listen to the drums, songs and stories of our local hosts. 

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

Basic yoga experience is required to participate in the yoga program. Michael will teach in German.


This yoga retreat will be offered from April 16, through April 24, 2021 at Merzouga and the desert camp in the South East of Morocco.


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. 
Besides being a dedicated yoga teacher, Michael runs his own graphic design business 2ND WEST full-time. He is the father of two adult children. Together with his wife Lina, he runs the studio Yogaloft in Rapperswil-Jona. He teaches workshops and retreats and is part of the teacher faculty at AIRYOGA in Zurich and Sundari Yoga in St.Gallen.


The Host
Barak Outside is the founder of Sahara Yoga. He and his large family will accompany and take care of our group from arrival to and departure from Merzouga. Barak was born in the oasis of Merzouga. He lives with his wife Ayla and their daughter Noura in the North of Germany and works as a male nurse (he is therefore best trained for medical emergencies). Several times a year he visits his home country.
Barak 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 Marocco.


The Accommodations
In Merzouga: At Hotel Kanz Erremal, at the base of the desert dunes. Made of adobe mud and hay, the hotel has the structure of a typical kasbah. With swimming pool directly facing the dunes. 
At the Desert Camp: The simple yet lovely, round Berber tents (double occupation max) have beds with good mattrasses. Bed linens and small towels are offered as well. 
The desert camp is endowed with solar power and fresh drinking water, flushing toilets, as well as an open sky shower in the midst of the dunes. There are several places for resting in the shade with hammocks, and a Gong for the daily waking call. All meals will be cooked on the open fire and - depending on the temperature and the weather conditions - will be enjoyed under the open desert sky or in the dining tent.
Please note, that in the desert, there is no connection to the internet - this will give you the opportunity for a few days of 'digital detox'! For urgent calls a phone-connection can be established (only on a specific dune). Barak, our host, will be available on his mobile phone in case of emergencies. All participants will be given his number in advance to provide to their families.


The Program (changes may apply)
Friday, April 16, 2021:
Individual flight to Errachidia via Casablanca with transfer to our hotel in Merzouga by car (about 1.5 hour drive) or by public bus from Marrakesch to Merzouga (in this case you will be picked up at the bus station) / Check-in and overnight stay at the hotel

Saturday, April 17, 2021:
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, April 18, through Thursday, April 22, 2021:
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, April 23, 2021:
Yoga practice and breakfast at the camp / Camel trekking back to Merzouga / Round tour through the oasis, traditional Berber lunch at the family Oussidi’s private house, visit of the local children aid project and of a local Berber cooperative offering traditional arts and craft / Closing circle, dinner and overnight stay at the hotel

Saturday, April 24, 2021: 
Early morning check-out and transfer to the airport Errachidia (resp. to the bus station for those, who travel to Marrakesch by bus) / Individual continuation of travel 


Price per person
CHF 1’850.- with accommodation in double room/2-bed tent.
A few single rooms are available in the hotel in Merzouga as well as in the desert camp at an extra cost of CHF 450.- (first come, first served).

Services included 
•  Accommodation for 8 nights (2 nights in a double room at the Hotel 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 transfer on arrival and departure days (for the recommended flights) / optionally transfer from/to the bus station
•  2 camel trekkings 
•  24-hour service at the desert camp 
•  Daily, extended yoga sessions (taught in German) - except on the day of arrival and departure
•  Berber lunch with family Oussidi
•  Donation of CHF 20.- per person to the children aid project in Merzouga 

Services not included
•  All flight cost
•  Beverages (at the desert camp, water will always be available. On the last day, we will count all empty bottles and divide by the number of participants. 1x1,5 Liter = EURO 1.-)
•  Tips (voluntary, recommended amount about EUR 70.-)


Travel
We recommend flying to Errachidia via Casablanca. Iberia, Royal Air Maroc or TAP Air Portugal offer several options. 
April 16, 2021: From Casablanca, flight with Royal Air Maroc AT1446 at 10:40 pm to Errachidia (arrival on April 17, at 00:55 am). Transfer to the hotel in Merzouga by car for those arriving with this flight.
April 24, 2021: organized transfer from the hotel in Merzouga to Errachidia airport. Departure with Royal Air Maroc AT1447 at 8:05 am. Arrival in Casablanca at 10:00 am. Individual continuation of the journey. 

As an option, you can also travel to Merzouga by public bus from Marrakech. 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 provide tips for extending your stay in Morocco.


Booking / Further Terms and Notes
For all questions and to book please email Valérie Lutz: valerie@yoga-to-go.ch


Registration deadline is on February 20, 2021.

Until the registration deadline, registrations are provisional. 
We will decide on February 20, 2021 whether the retreat can be held or not. The safety and health of the participants is our first priority in this decision. We recommend that you book your flights only after the retreat is guaranteed.

Once the retreat is guaranteed, yoga-to-go will bill the participant the full cost according to booking. The amount is then due within 10 days.

In case the retreat has to be cancelled at short notice due to the Cocid-19 situation in Morocco, any costs already paid to yoga-to-go will be fully refunded.

The retreat requires a minimum of 8 participants to take place. Maximum 18 participants.

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.

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. 
It is the responsibility of each participant to book their flights and to inform themselves about flight changes and Covid-19 regulations relevant to this trip.

Insurance is your own responsibility. We strongly recommend a travel insurance and 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 yoga-to-go Valérie Lutz in cooperation with Sahara Yoga. The company’s General Terms and Conditions apply which will be send (in German) to each participant upon booking.

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.