Morocco Desert Tours: Everything you should know about a Sahara Desert Tour
So many travelers are considering the Sahara desert tour on their Morocco wish list. However, very quickly, the concerns begin to appear.
If you’re planning your Morocco Sahara desert tour it could be a bit difficult. How do you decide where to begin when each tour says it’s one of the top Morocco desert excursions?
If you’re still in the beginning stages of organizing your Morocco desert adventures and are wondering what the best way to organize your Morocco desert journey, you’ll find this Sahara Desert vacation guide very useful. In this article , I’m going to discuss the most important things you need to be aware of Morocco desert trips including:
- The best place to start on your Sahara Desert Morocco tour;
- Where in the Sahara to visit;
- What is the most suitable time of year to join one of the Sahara tours?
- How many days can you devote on your Sahara journey;
- What to expect of Morocco prices for tours in the desert and what to expect at various price points;
- What to pack for your Morocco desert holiday Also, lastly
- A few suggestions on Sahara excursions and trips with kids.
We hope that, after reading this guide that will explain everything you need to know about the Sahara Desert tours Morocco offers and more, you’ll be in a much better position to book one of the most memorable Morocco desert tours that are ideal for you.
Morocco Desert Tours: Where to Begin? And Where to go?
One of the first things that you should consider to decide for your Sahara Desert travel is which region of the Sahara will you explore and when you’ll be starting your trip to Sahara.
There are two main deserts that tourists can visit in Morocco to enjoy the duration of their Sahara Desert holiday – either the Merzouga Desert or the Zagora Desert and usually tourists start their journey from Marrakech as well as Fez. We’ll go over both of these aspects further down.
Sahara Desert near Merzouga
Merzouga tours are the most well-known Sahara tours and include Merzouga being located near the well-known Erg Chebbi sand dunes. The dunes at Erg Chebbi are taller and much more vibrant in color than the dunes located near Zagora which makes them a more sought-after destination.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of Merzouga tours in the desert is the fact that the town lies on the edge of the stunning Erg Chebbi sand dunes. The town is also filled with modern hotels and you can easily reach the sand dunes via a short 30 minute Morocco Camel Trekking. This makes an Merzouga desert tour relatively easy and convenient and ideal to those short on time or those who do not want to venture too far off the beaten track.
But, its proximity to the sand dunes, can also be its down to the down. As it’s more popular the place is more expensive and it certainly will be crowded with a lot of tourists.
Merzouga is located about 9 hours’ drive in Marrakech and 7 hours away from Fez. If you’re joining an excursion like the Marrakech desert tours, be sure to allow at least two night and three days because you will stop overnight in the middle of the trip.
Zagora is situated in the south of Morocco and is within the Erg Chigaga sand dunes. Sand dunes that are approximately 60 km away from the nearest road and consequently, the walk to see them takes a great deal longer then to see the sand dunes from Merzouga.
To reach Zagora To reach Zagora, you first need to arrive at the town of M’hamid. From here it’s a rather lengthy trek through rugged desert terrain before reaching Zagora’s Erg Chigaga sand dunes.
It’s also important to know it is important to note that Zagora desert is not the orange like desert you might imagine – this is the stone desert, which has a moon-like appearance. That’s why (as as it takes longer to reach) Zagora is known to be less well-known over Merzouga and is usually ideal for budget travelers or for those that prefer to stay off the tourist route.
Zagora is about 6 hours drive far from Marrakech which is 9.5 hours drive to Fez (without stop-overs).
Where to Commence?
The most well-known location to begin Sahara Desert trips is from Marrakech. This is due to the fact that Marrakech is known as the capital city of Morocco and the place where many tourists commence their trip. But, you can also visit Sahara Desert from Fes. Be aware that since the Marrakech Desert tours are more popular, there are many choices from here.
One of the most popular routes is one of the Marrakech to Fes excursion in the Sahara desert. Start your journey in Marrakech before you go on having completed the Sahara desert safari, move on to Fez – or vica reverse.
How Many Days to Allow for a Morocco Sahara Tour?
Trucks and campervans in Dades Gorge in Morocco.
Due to the extensive amount of driving required to reach either Merzouga and Zagora and regardless of whether you visit from Marrakech or Fez expect a full day of driving to and back. Because of this, it’s impossible to take one of the Fez or Marrakech desert day trips.
At the very minimum, you can do overnight Sahara trips starting from Marrakech or Fez If you want the Sahara Desert camp trip to be worthwhile you really require two to three nights. Even doing a two or three night Sahara camping trip, a good portion of your trip will simply be driving.
If you’re beginning the Sahara Desert experience in Marrakech and have only one night available, your best bet is to visit the closer Zagora Desert. If however you have more than three nights available, you are able to visit the magnificent orange sand dunes of Merzouga Desert.
If you choose to plan a 2- or 3- night tour, make sure to ensure that at least two nights are actually spent in the desert. Some of the more budget tours will spend just the just one day in the desert, while the remaining nights will be in hotels. Staying two to three nights in the desert means you’ll be allowed to experience this desert area at a much more relaxed pace , and engage in many activities, such as visiting tribal villages, sand boarding in the desert, camel trekking, or simply relaxing among the stunning dunes of sand.
Visiting the Agafay Desert
For those with limited timing, Marrakech day excursions to the Agafay Desert is a good alternative. There is a great view of the Agafay Desert is located 40km southwest of Marrakesh and features rough and dry moon-like landscape.
It’s not possible to find the incredible dunes of sand as you will within Merzouga or Zagora on this Marrakech day trip into the desert, there’s still the possibility to go on camel rides through the desert – I just want to make it clear it is the Agafay Desert is not the Sahara Desert.
The Agafay Desert is also a ideal option for anyone traveling to Morocco in the summertime. Many Morocco camp sites close down for a month or two due to the extreme temperatures and the risk of transporting people to the desert during summer.
So if you’re planning to go on a Sahara Morocco tour in summer it is worth considering visiting an Agafay desert camp close to Marrakech instead , where it will still be very hot, yet the camps will remain open.
Should I DIY or Book a Guided Sahara Trip?
It is entirely feasible to go on the DIY Sahara trip. It is possible to hire an auto and drive yourself to the sand dunes or take a bus. After arriving, you can arrange all of your activities on your own and do what you would like to do within the Sahara.
When it comes to sleeping in the Sahara, there are many advantages from joining one of the desert Morocco tours, that it far outweighs making it your own. Here are a few reasons why you should book one on the Morocco Sahara Desert tours:
- The best Morocco desert experiences are inclusive and include transportation from either Marrakech or Fez in addition to activities, lodging and, in general, most if not all meals;
- There’s a lesser chance of getting lost.
- In a desert Morocco tour your guide will have knowledge of the best spots where you can stop for amazing photographs;
- There will be less difficulty dealing with language barriers.
- You are reasonably assured of your security; and
- Overall you have more chances of the entire trip going to plan.
What type of Sahara Desert Camp to Book Which Sahara Desert Camp is best for you – Budget, Luxury or Mid-Range?
You now have an idea of the places you’d like your next destination to be on your desert safari in Morocco and the amount of time you’re able to take, it’s time to start making a decision on whether to book a budget or mid-priced tour, or a luxury one.
But before booking any tour, be sure to ask the Morocco desert tour company to answer the following inquiries:
- What is included in the quoted Sahara desert tour cost? What is not included?
- Do you actually offer tours in the time that you’ll be at the venue and how hot will it be? This is something you will want to know for those who travel during the summer. Most operators do not offer services in the summer months. There is no air conditioning, and temperatures could easily reach between 100-110F during the day , and in the mid 70’s at night.
- Where will you stop with the names that of any establishments or Riads?
- If it is not one among the Morocco private desert tours how many other travelers will be travelling together?
- Are there any destinations that offer additional tours or tips that you are expected to pay?
- What meals can be purchased out of pocket ? What’s the cost average?
- If you do not want to dine at the places that have been closed for meals Do you have other options?
- What do you think of the sleeping arrangements in Camp in deserts?
- What is the complete schedule of the trip, including stops, as well as the times when you will depart and arrive at the desert camp?
- If you have any health issues, for example back pain (me!) inquire if they have a back rest available for the camel for extra support.
Simply Google “budget Sahara Desert tours” and you’ll be inundated with terrible reviews from disappointed clients. While many appeared to be assured of luxury and tranquil tents amid stunning dunes, reality is there are a lot of tents, low-quality facilities and plenty of discontent.
However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t quality budget tours there, as I’m certain there are, it’s just that budget-friendly tours of high quality don’t appear to be the usual. Unfortunately, that’s also my own personal experience as well.
Here are a few things you can expect on a budget tour:
- Camel trek;
- Often mediocre meals – at best – included in the desert. All other meals are paid at your own expense.
- Lots of people during your tour
- No toilets – you are being asked to clean yourself off on the sand or maybe in a basic toilet;
- No showers;
- Beds that are uncomfortable or perhaps sleeping on the sand
- Language and communication problems.
For some there is no problem. You may want to go for more of a rustic experience. That’s awesome! However, if you’re looking to go on a budget desert vacation but expect something more it’s a long drive with no exit once you get there.
A mid-range camp may have some of the amenities offered by the luxury camps, but it may offer fewer frills than an affordable camp. This type of camp may also provide private transportation, vs. an shared ride. To determine if a service is mid-range , compare the services available to luxury and budget alternatives.
The luxury Sahara tours are so luxurious, it’s hard to believe you’re camping! The luxury tour I was on was so lavish that I slept in a bed even much more comfy than own bed at home!
Here are a few of the things you can expect on a luxury tour:
- Camp sites and individual tents that have running water
- Private bathrooms;
- Tents heated;
- Big, comfortable beds;
- Private space for sitting
- Delicious Moroccan meals
To find out more about luxury tours, you can learn more about my experience in this article.
Other Tips About Booking a Tour
My most important tip to you is to reserve your trip in advance before you arrive in Morocco. While it’s feasible to book upon arrival, by making reservations in advance , you’ll have the time to do your research and ensure you get a reservation with a established tour company and be aware of exactly what you can expect when you go on your tour.
A lot of times, I’ve read reviews in which people are disappointed by their trip. This could have been easily avoided had they done their own research.
When you reach either Marrakech or Fez you’ll see a number of tour touts in the medina busting travelers with Morocco Sahara trips. If you’ve not booked your tour in advance, then you may well end up booking an itinerary you’re aware of isn’t about or getting influenced to book a tour because it’s cheap.
A trip to the Sahara Desert trips Morocco offers are a rare chance, therefore it’s important to ensure that you do not end up disappointed. Be sure to trust me when I say to your Sahara trip , you truly are getting what you pay for.
Morocco The Moroccan Sahara Desert Tour: What time of the year is the best to visit?
As with any destination there are certain times of the time are more favorable than others for Sahara desert excursions.
Most people think that the most ideal time of year to celebrate festivities in the Sahara desert is between April and October as the night and day temperatures are less hot.
If you are planning to travel during winter (December to March), you may find the nighttime temperatures sub-zero, while during those summer months (June to September) the heat can be oppressive.
It’s also worth noting that a lot of desert tours will close during summer (specifically the month of August).
What do you need to pack for your Sahara desert travels?
For you to pack properly with the proper items for to pack appropriately for Morocco Sahara desert trip, you’ll need to know certain details about the camp you’ll be staying at. Before packing, research what you can about your camp:
- What are the sleep arrangements? Are you sleeping on a bed with covers or will you need to carry your own? Do you have a bed or will you have to sleep in the dirt? Is there heat in the tents?
- What are the facilities for bathrooms it is vital so that you know which clothes make bathroom time easy and you don’t have to bring toiletries.
- How much food(s) and drinks are available, or do you have to bring them both in the journey and at the campsite?