A sea of sand and five-star glamping sites; nothing beats boundless sand on the horizon with nothing but the sound of your breath to accompany you. The Sahara Desert is an unforgettable experience.
The Sahara Desert, which covers roughly three-quarters of Morocco, is easily accessible from Marrakesh and Fes. With the rolling dunes and dry topography that mark the beginning of the great Sahara come fascinating nomad tribes and fragments of Morocco’s key role in the Silk Road.
Whether you are looking for a day trip from Marrakesh or an extended Morocco desert tour, you will be blown away by what you will find here.
To get you started, here are some things to consider when planning your vacation to Morocco:
Moroccan Deserts to Visit
Merzouga and Erg Chebbi
Merzouga is a small desert hamlet with hotels and restaurants that serves as the entryway to the stunning sand dunes of Erg Chebbi. This section of the desert is well-known for its vast expanse of dunes and is hence the most popular. Merzouga is ideal for a Moroccan Sahara Desert vacation from Marrakesh to Fes or vice versa.
While staying in town is available, staying in a desert camp, which ranges from exclusive and opulent to more basic and intimate campgrounds, is suggested for the whole experience.
For those seeking to go deeper into the desert, the Erg Chebbi is a must-see when on a desert trip in Morocco. The Erg Chebbi, Merzouga’s highest dune, is a one-hour walk or camel ride from town. The dune provides a panoramic view of the mountains in the distance, as well as the seemingly unending dunes of Merzouga. The luxury campers are sprinkled throughout the orange dunes and stretch into the horizon.
The Zagora Desert
Although not as stunning as Merzouga, Zagora is the simplest to reach for a short journey in Morocco, such as this 2-Day Desert Adventure from Marrakesh. While day journeys from Marrakesh to Zagora are not practical, these dunes may be seen in only two days.
Zagora’s terrain is a dry stone desert; thus there are no sand dunes as in Merzouga, yet the sight and experience are nonetheless spectacular. The Zagora Desert allows visitors to interact with Berber people and experience life as a nomad. Camel caravans, which are still utilized as a mode of transportation for the Berber people, may be seen throughout Zagora.
Zagora is well-known among historians for a billboard depicting a camel and a nomad with the words “Timbouctou 52 jours,” which may still be found in the town. As traders continued to stop their caravans at Zagora, the sign signaled the beginning of the Saadian caravans’ ambition to capture the city and the beginning of Zagora’s cosmopolitan feel.
How to Get to the Moroccan Deserts
Merzouga and Zagora are around six hours apart and in opposing directions, with Zagora being farther south of the Algerian border.
The trip from Marrakesh to Merzouga takes nine hours. We recommend combining your Sahara Desert tour in Morocco with a longer trip from Marrakesh to Fes. This allows you to break up the lengthy journey by visiting tiny towns and villages along the route and immersing yourself in Berber culture before arriving at Merzouga.
Routes from Casablanca, Tangier, or Agadir are also choices. To avoid the long travel and missing out on Morocco’s desert settlements, we recommend including this in a longer vacation. Morocco desert tours from Casablanca, for example, will take you to all the correct areas.
We strongly recommend stopping at the desert village of Ouarzazate to visit the kasbahs and the spectacular ighrem, Ait Ben Haddou, on the old caravan route while on a Marrakesh desert excursion. Ouarzazate is a fantastic addition to your Morocco desert trip since it allows you to see life on the 17th century commercial routes. This may also be included in your Fes tour to Merzouga to view the mud dwellings that established vast villages in the center of the desert.
Marrakesh provides easy access to the lonely Zagora. While Zagora lacks dunes, it does provide the desert experience that you were searching for while in Morocco. You’ll learn how to survive on the trip amid unforgiving arid environments as your Berber nomad gurus lead you.
You may also break up your drive to Zagora by stopping at Ouarzazate. The settlement is located halfway between Marrakesh and the desert.
What Do You Do on a Morocco Desert Tour?
Camel Riding in Morocco
Camel rides and Morocco simply seem to go together. Walking over the dunes on the back of a camel is an iconic picture of the nation and its desert, and it is one of the most popular activities to do in Morocco desert.
You’ll watch the sunset across the dunes as you and your camel are escorted towards your tent for the night, much as you would on our 9-day Marrakesh Sahara tour. A Berber nomad will lead your camel and serve as your guide for the night.
Walking across the sand will transport you to the heart of the Sahara, with infinite dunes stretching out in the distance. As you observe the sunset from a vantage position, you’ll notice the sky transform from a burned red to black as the stars begin to appear.
Morocco’s camel ride experience, which is offered in both Merzouga and Zagora, is an essential element of any trip.
If you enjoy surfing, snowboarding, or skating, you’ll be delighted to learn that you may practice your abilities on the sand. Sandboarding is an exciting way to explore the Merzouga sand dunes and adds an adrenaline rush to your Sahara desert vacation.
You may either hire a guide or go to the sand on your own to explore the dunes on a board. In any case, you’ll enjoy a smooth and warm landing, which will boost your confidence. Sandboarding is a thrilling addition for adrenaline junkies wishing to spice up a trip to Morocco, such as this 14-day Sahara Desert tour in Morocco.
Get some wheels while at Merzouga to explore the 35 kilometers of sand while jumping dunes and racing down into natural valleys cut by the wind.
For families visiting Morocco, quad riding in the desert is a pleasant alternative to walking in the noon heat. You’ll be able to either supervise your children as they navigate the car or take charge and watch their faces light up as you explore the Merzouga Desert.
Take on the desert terrain and arid scenery of this area of Morocco on a 4×4 adventure from Marrakesh to the Sahara Desert, such as this 4×4 Moroccan Highlights Adventure. Prepare for a rough ride as you go from the city to Ouarzazate and around the Sahara Desert, stopping along the route to discover everything that Morocco’s desert has to offer.
While this is not for the faint of heart, individuals who love more adventurous excursions will appreciate this unique Marrakesh desert tour.
As the sun sets over the sands of Merzouga and Zagora, you’ll get an unforgettable desert tour experience. The sky will light up, but in a different way, when the stars appear, illuminating the sky so brightly that you won’t need a flashlight to see where you’re going.
Stargazing in the desert is unlike any other experience you’ve had. With no light pollution for miles, you’ll become an astronomer without a telescope as shooting stars cross the sky and the Milky Way illuminates the sky in front of you. It is recommended that you take an extended excursion, such as this Morocco Desert tour, to go far into the desert for the finest star-gazing experience.
Learn about Berber and Gnawa Culture
The Berber people are indigenous to North and West Africa and are descended from the region’s pre-Arab ancestors. Berbers are traditionally nomads, and their culture and way of life revolve around being on the road.
You will travel alongside and learn about Berber culture as it lives and breathes through nature on any excursion through the Merzouga desert or even the High Atlas highlands.
A more culturally involved vacation, such as this 12-Day Morocco Must Do tour, would allow you to meet the Gnawi, who were transported to North Africa as slaves by the Berber people.
This region’s nawa music is well known and fast spreading around the world. Gnawa music has an Islamic religious beat and is related to ceremonial healers; individuals are cured through musical ceremonies by drawing saints and beings through the burning of incense and the Gnawa musicians’ trance.
Gnawa music’s survival and appeal are critical to the preservation of Gnawa culture and history. Today, it is commemorated in a more modern manner during the annual music festival in Essaouira, which has grown to become the country’s largest music event.