If you are a regular reader of our blog you will already know how proud we are of our haimas, of having built them in the traditional way, of having entrusted them to the locals, and of having preserved their essence.
Because you will see many types of haima, but not all of them have the Berber flavor, which for us is essential to experience the desert in its purest form: if you want to really immerse yourself in it, sleeping in an authentic haima surrounded by immense dunes like those of Erg Chebbi is a must.
So that you can go to a camp where the haimas are what you expect, we have prepared a post for you to soak up the options that you will find.
Let’s start at the beginning…
What is a haima?
If you are a Spanish speaker, you will have seen the word written with either a “jota” or an “hache” and you may have doubted. Well, both are correct, because it comes from the Arabic word Haymah.
Having cleared up the spelling issue, let’s get to know better what a haima is.
It is a tent, tent or portable house that the nomadic Berbers set up as a dwelling during their stays in the desert. It is therefore relatively easy to assemble and disassemble.
This Arab house consists of a central pole surrounded by poles at the same height around which is placed a large canvas that makes up its walls and roof.
It may seem somewhat flimsy a construction that, to simplify a lot, consists of a few poles and a canvas, especially considering that it has to protect its inhabitants from the unpredictable inclement desert weather.
However, both its shape and its orientation are designed so that the Sahara wind does not blow it down, and when it blows here it does so with gusto. And the same with the rain: the entrance is placed in the opposite direction to the wind so that the rain rarely enters the tent.
Okay, you might think, and what is this cover made of that canopy that supports everything? Well, not of plastic, but quite the opposite; the mantle that gives body to the haima is made of camel, goat, esparto, or palm hair.
This well-tensioned roof prevents water from surprising its inhabitants and is also a magnificent insulator of temperatures, both from the sweltering summer heat and the coolness of winter.
At Kam Kam Dunes, our haimas are handmade by local craftsmen with camel skin: a well-built haima can withstand anything; that’s why it has endured over time.
And inside the haimas? Inside, covered with carpets, families make life, so all their things are there: tables, kitchen utensils, small furniture or trunks, clothes… everything, everything.
When we say that they make life we mean that all the members of the family eat, sleep and spend their free time in them. If they are few, the haima will be smaller and if they are a large family, the house will be bigger.
Now that we know what a haima is, let’s see what types there are so that you know what you are facing if you decide to come to the desert.
Types of haima
When it comes to the types of haima that function as accommodation in the Moroccan desert, you will find that some call them “luxury” and others do not.
However, luxury always sounds wrong to us when it comes to a camp that claims to be authentic. In fact, we generally refuse to be labeled as a luxury camp.
Well, let’s not get bogged down in talking about us, we’re getting off-topic. If you’re interested in digging deeper, we have a post where we talk about it at length: Is Kam Kam Dunes a luxury desert camp… or not?
What we were getting at.
If you are coming to Erg Chebbi you will find these three types of haima:
#1 The standard haima
They are simple haimas, generally shared by several travelers who have their space separated by a kind of curtain or cloth. In these haimas you should not expect much decoration because it is usually scarce, to be honest.
In them, you sleep on a mattress with sheets, blankets, and pillow placed on the floor.
And the bathrooms and showers? Also shared a few meters away from the tent.
As a point in favor of this type of accommodation we would say that if you are one of those who like camping, experiences very close to nature and you are short of budget, then not so bad.
#2 The upper haima
The superior haimas have almost all the comforts of a hotel but have little to do with the authentic tents of the nomadic peoples.
Why do we say this? Because they are often tents made of white plastic with glass windows and aluminum exterior carpentry. And the interior is completely lined with fabric.
In short, their appearance is like that of a hotel room.
There are those with a very elaborate Moroccan style and there are also those decorated in a very similar way to the rooms of Western hotels. If this is what you are looking for, go ahead, there are different colors for every taste.
One advantage is that the bathroom is inside the tent and that’s a winner, of course. When we go on vacation we want to be comfortable.
In short, these are the haimas that in Morocco are surprisingly called “luxury”.
If you like nature in its right measure and you are of your own habits, in this type of camp you will be in your element.
#3 The haimas at Kam Kam Dunes
Why do we put ours in a separate category? Because we cannot pigeonhole them in any of the other two.
The Kam Kam Dunes haimas have the comforts of a hotel and the attachment to the environment with an adventurous touch of the standard tents.
We do not conceive to come to the largest desert in Morocco and not live the emotions that it offers. And you can’t do that if you don’t integrate yourself into the traditions, but also if you don’t feel special.
That is why they are built by the locals in their own way and decorated with great care by us in a boho style; the decorative elements of the haimas, the carpets, and the materials are all handmade and made of natural materials selected one by one.
Our eagerness to be authentic does not mean that we do not want to offer soft beds with the best quality sheets and a bathroom with a shower and hot water in each of the tents. You come here on vacation and in your precious time off you deserve the best.
Kam Kam Dunes is for you if you are the kind of person who wants adventure but wants to sleep, eat and drink well and in style.
Sleeping in a haima in the desert
What we can assure you is that spending the night in a haima in the desert is something that leaves a mark because it provokes a cascade of emotions.
Driving a quad through the dunes, watching the sunset on the back of a camel, a rich dinner and a shower after an intense day, the observation of a starry sky in the dark, and sleeping in an authentic haima in the silence of the desert are experiences that can only be done here.
If you want to check it out, book your haima, we are waiting for you.