Why Do a Morocco Desert Tour?
A sea of sand and five-star glamping sites; there is nothing quite like endless sand on the horizon with only the sound of your breath to accompany you. The Sahara Desert is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Covering nearly three-quarters of Morocco, the desolate sand dunes of the Sahara Desert are easily accessed from Marrakesh and Fes. With the rolling dunes and arid terrain that marks the beginning of the great Sahara, comes fascinating nomad cultures and little snippets of the vital role that this part of Morocco played in the Silk Road.
Whether you are looking to do a day trip from Marrakesh or an extended Morocco desert tour, what you will experience here will be way beyond your expectations.
To get the ball rolling, here are some things to think about while planning your trip to Morocco;
Moroccan Deserts to Visit
Merzouga and Erg Chebbi
Acting as the gateway to the spectacular sand dunes of Erg Chebbi, Merzouga is a small desert town populated with hotels and restaurants. This slice of the desert is known for its huge expanse of dunes and is, therefore, the most popular. Merzouga is perfect for those looking for a Morocco Sahara Desert tour from Marrakesh to Fes or vice versa.
While it is possible to stay in the town, for the complete experience, it is recommended to stay in a desert camp which ranges from private and luxurious to more basic, cosy campsites.
For those looking to explore the desert a little more, the Erg Chebbi is something that you cannot miss while on a desert tour in Morocco. The tallest dune in Merzouga, the Erg Chebbi is a one-hour walk or camel ride from the town. The view from the dune offers a panoramic view of the mountains in the distance towards Algeria and the seemingly endless dunes of Merzouga. You’ll see the luxury camps dotted across the orange dunes and stretch out into the distance.
The Zagora Desert
Zagora is the easiest to access for a short trip in Morocco such as this 2-Day Desert Adventure from Marrakesh, although not quite as impressive as Merzouga. While day trips from Marrakesh to Zagora are not possible, you will be able to visit these dunes in just two days.
The landscape of Zagora is a dry stone desert, so it does not offer the sand dunes like in Merzouga, however, the landscape and experience is still impressive. The Zagora Desert provides the opportunity to get in touch with Berber people and live the nomad life. Around Zagora, you’ll have the chance to see camel caravans which are still used as a means of transport for the Berber people.
Zagora is well-known among history buffs for a poster featuring a camel and a nomad reading “Timbouctou 52 jours” which can still be seen in the town. The sign marked the starting point for Saadian caravans’ quest to conquer the city and the beginning of Zagora’s cosmopolitan feel as traders continued to stop their caravans in the town.
How to Get to the Moroccan Deserts
Merzouga and Zagora are more than six hours away and in opposite directions with Zagora lying further south of the Algerian border than Merzouga.
From Marrakesh to Merzouga, the journey takes nine hours. We suggest that you incorporate your Sahara Desert tour in Morocco into a longer trip from Marrakesh to Fes. By doing this, you can split up the long journey by visiting the small towns and villages along the way and getting in touch with Berber culture before arriving in Merzouga.
Other options include routes from Casablanca, Tangier and Agadir. Once again, we advise you to incorporate this into a longer trip to avoid the long journey and missing out on Morocco’s desert towns. Experiences such as this Morocco desert tour from Casablanca will take you to all the right places.
While on a Marrakesh desert trip, we highly recommend stopping at the desert town of Ouarzazate to see the kasbahs and the impressive ighrem, Ait Ben Haddou from the old caravan route. Ouarzazate is an excellent addition to your Morocco desert tour as you snatch a glimpse of life on the trading routes of the 17th century. You can also incorporate this into your Fes tour to Merzouga to see earthen homes that formed great towns in the heart of the desert.
The desolate Zagora is easily reached from Marrakesh. While Zagora does not have any dunes, it does offer the desert experience that you were looking for while travelling in Morocco. As your Berber nomad experts guide you, you’ll learn the ways of surviving while on the road in unforgiving dry landscapes.
On your way to Zagora, you can also break up your journey by stopping in Ouarzazate. The town marks the half-way point to the desert from Marrakesh.
What Do You Do on a Morocco Desert Tour?
Ride a Camel in Morocco
Morocco and camel rides just seem to fit together. An iconic image of the country along with its desert, walking through the dunes on the back of a camel is one of the most popular things to do while in Morocco’s desert.
Arriving around sunset, just as you would in this 9-day Marrakesh Sahara tour, you’ll watch the sunset across the dunes as you and your camel are guided towards your camp for the night. Your camel will be guided by a Berber nomad, who will be your guide for the night.
As you are walking through the sand, you’ll feel like you are in the heart of the Sahara as the endless dunes stretch out in the distance. As you watch the sunset from a viewpoint, you’ll witness the sky turn from a burnt red to black as the stars begin to light up the sky.
An experience that is available in both Merzouga and Zagora, Morocco’s camel ride experience is an essential part of any trip.
If you are an avid surfer, snowboarder or skater, you’ll be thrilled to find out that you can play around with your skills in the sand. An interesting alternative to explore the sand dunes of Merzouga, sandboarding adds an adrenaline-pumping spin to your Sahara desert tour.
You can opt for a guide to show you or grab a board and take to the sand solo to explore the dunes on a board. Either way, you’ll have a soft and warm landing which will add a little to your confidence. Sandboarding is an exciting addition for adrenaline seekers looking to spice up their trip to Morocco, such as this 14-day Sahara Desert tour, Morocco.
Get some wheels while in Merzouga to explore the 35 kilometres of sand while jumping dunes and careering down into the natural valleys carved by the wind.
Quad biking in the desert is a great option for families travelling in Morocco as a fun alternative to walking in the midday heat. You’ll be able to guide your children while they navigate the vehicle or take control and watch their faces beam while you explore the Merzouga Desert.
Tackle desert terrain and the arid landscapes of this part of Morocco on a 4×4 exploration from Marrakesh to the Sahara Desert like this 4×4 Moroccan Highlights Adventure. Get ready for a bumpy ride as you journey from the city to Ouarzazate and around the Sahara Desert, stopping off to explore all that the Morocco desert has to offer along the way.
While this kind of trip is not for the faint-hearted, those who do enjoy more adventurous journeys will revel in this unique Marrakesh desert tour.
As the sun sets over the sand of Merzouga and Zagora, you’ll experience something truly unique to your desert tour. The sky will come alight, but differently, as the stars appear, lighting up the sky so much that you won’t need a torch to see where you are going.
Star-gazing in the desert is unlike any star-gazing experience you have had before. With no light pollution for miles, you’ll become an astronomer without a telescope as shooting stars cross the sky and the Milky Way lights up before you. For the best star-gazing experience, it is advised that you take an extended trip, like this Morocco Desert trip to go deep into the desert.
Learn about Berber and Gnawa Culture
The Berber people are indigenous to the north and west of Africa and are descendants of the pre-Arab inhabitants of the region. Berber people are traditionally nomads, and their culture and lifestyles are focused on living on the move.
While on any tour in the Merzouga desert or even then High Atlas mountains, you will travel with and learn about Berber culture, as it lives and breathes through the landscape.
On a more culturally immersive trip, such as this 12-Day Morocco Must Do tour, you’ll have the chance to meet the Gnawi who were brought to North Africa by the Berber people as slaves.
Gnawa music in this region is famous and is rapidly spreading across the world. Gnawa music has an Islamic religious rhythm and is associated with ritualistic healers; through musical ceremonies, people are treated through the drawing of saints and entities through the burning of incense and the Gnawa musicians’ trance.
The continuity and popularity of Gnawa music are vital for the preservation of the Gnawa culture and heritage. Today it is celebrated in a more modern fashion at the annual music festival in Essaouira, now the biggest music festival in the country.
Best Time to Go to Morocco’s Deserts
It is possible to do a Morocco desert tour at any time of year; however, for the best experience, it is best to go either between March and May or September and October. This is the shoulder season for Europeans, so fewer people will be travelling at this time. Morocco, in particular, the desert will not be as hot at this time too.
The spring and autumn months are suitable for tours around all of Morocco, as with moderate temperatures you can enjoy all of the activities available from the High Atlas Mountains to the Sahara.
In winter, the Moroccan desert may be more relaxing with fewer tourists; however, it will be very cold at night. You will also have the additional factor of unfavourable weather conditions which could jeopardise your trip itinerary. Morocco can and does get snow in the mountains due to its northern positioning.
What to Pack to Go to the Moroccan Desert Tour
Only one thing should remain in your mind when packing for your desert tour: “how can I come away from the Sahara with as little sand in my belongings as possible?”
A challenging task, but let’s see what we can do;
Good walking shoes, preferably walking sandals, will be ideal for your desert tour in Morocco even if it is just a day trip from Marrakesh. As sand will flow easily from them, you won’t find that sand reaches your toes every time you put your shoes on!
A Light Bag and a Bag Liner
A smaller light bag is all that you will need for a night in the desert. You can arrange luggage storage with your guide when you plan your Morocco desert tour.
A liner bag can slot inside your main bag to protect your clothes from getting sandy. If the desert starts to get windy, which it can, this will stop a thick mist of sand from getting inside.
What to Wear in Morocco’s Deserts
Light clothes covering arms and legs will help you to avoid sunburn and stay cool during the day. At night, the desert can get cold, so a sweater, socks and perhaps even some thermals or leggings will keep you warm while you are star-gazing.
Some touts may insist that you buy a headscarf before heading out into the desert; however, this is only really necessary if you are going on a long trip where sand storms may be possible. Even then, the traditional Berber headwear on tourists is purely for tourist purposes. The prices suggested will be a little overpriced, it is up to you whether or not you engage in this purchase; a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen will suffice.
Creating Your Morocco Desert Trip
While it is possible to book your Morocco Sahara tour when you arrive, there are some risks of planning by yourself, particularly for female solo travellers. When planning to go on an overnight trip to Merzouga or Zagora from Marrakesh, it is vital to do your research and know who exactly you are booking with.
Many travel companies are selling the same trips in Morocco’s larger cities. If anything goes wrong, you must know the name of the company to inform other travellers of your experience to stop it from happening again. The benefit of booking in advance is that you are able to do thorough research and select trusted agents from the get-go.
When booking a custom tour with Tripfuser, you’ll have a range of Local Suppliers who can create a safe trip to ensure you have the best possible experience when in the Moroccan desert. At Tripfuser, all of our Local Suppliers are carefully selected to make sure you have the best possible experience.
With Tripfuser, you can create a trip that suits you. Select from our fully-customisable Morocco tours to begin your conversation with one of our in-destination Local Suppliers. From there on in, you will work together to curate your personalised travel experience. Our Local Suppliers in Morocco will go down to the finest detail to ensure you are out in the desert plains in no time!