Moroccan Sahara Desert Tour
Our desert experience was everything and more than we could have expected- riding camels into the desert on the caravan, sand boarding, savoring a Moroccan Tajine, laughing with new friends from around the world, sipping Moroccan Whiskey while enjoying traditional music around the campfire, stargazing, and camping overnight in berber tents – an experience that will never be forgotten.
Thank you Original Morocco Tours !
The Tour Begins!
Day 1: Through the High Atlas & Into the Valley
From Marrakech, we started our 3D/2N journey to the desert at 8am on Day 1 with our driver, Hamid (if you arrange to be picked up in Fes, your itinerary will simply be backwards). We drove through the highest pass in the Atlas Mountains, called Tizi-N’Tichka (which is actually the highest mountain pass in North Africa).
We stopped to take pictures and continued our journey on to Quarzazate (Morocco’s Hollywood). On our way, we stopped at the Kasbah of Ait Ben-haddou, a Unesco heritage site, and famous filming location (Game of Thrones and the Gladiator, to name a few).
In Quarzazate, you have the opportunity to stop at the Film Studios (museums) and the Kasbah Taourirt if you wish. (What’s great about being on a private tour, is that you can tell your driver if you want to do something other than what’s on the itinerary, within reason – like not go to a museum if you’re not a museum person).
We continued our drive through valleys of palm trees, desert and just absolutely breathtaking scenery until we reached the Dades Valley, which is stunning. I usually fall asleep in long car rides, and I simply could not shut my eyes during this ride, even in the warm sun! We checked into our lovely hotel (which was all arranged by Original Morocco Tours), enjoyed a traditional dinner with music and enjoyed some shut eye for the night.
Day 2: Ready to jump on the caravan!
After breakfast, we drove to the highest point to lookout over the Dades Valley, then we headed off to the Merzouga Desert, passing through the Boumalne Dades and the Rose Valley (which sadly, wasn’t in bloom but would be breathtaking if it was!). We walked through the Todra Gorge (It’s WAY to cold to swim in during the winter months) and stopped at a shop with traditional Berber garb to play “dress-up”. The flag we are holding below is the traditional Berber Flag. The symbol represents “Freedom” and the colors represent the sea, the land and the desert.
At this point we arrived at the Erg Chebbi sand dunes – think the beautiful red mountains of wind blown sand—we’re finally here! We went off-roading and played in the dunes before meeting our desert guide and Camels (In Morocco, they call them dromedaries, which is a 1 humped camel). Note: Camels don’t love to snuggle like I thought they would!
Our guide, Hamid, who we had spent the last ~30 hours with, stays elsewhere for the night and kept our luggage safe (all you need is a small backpack to bring into the desert with warm clothes, pj’s, a toothbrush, etc. I would highly suggest bringing gloves, a hat, layers, and wool socks for the evening- it gets down to freezing temps at night!)
We rode into the desert with our camels and new guide- it was pure bliss. Watching our reflections of the caravan on the red sand was something I could partake in for hours. After about an hour and 15 minutes, we arrived at our Berber Camp – traditional Berber tents surrounding an open fire, with pillows and Moroccan rugs and blankets everywhere.
We spent the rest of the afternoon sand boarding in the dunes and enjoying the sight of rolling sand dunes in every direction. That night, we enjoyed a traditional Moroccan meal, prepared for us by the berber men at our camp and then hung out by the camp fire – singing traditional songs, learning to play Moroccan instruments, dancing, etc. We drank lots of Moroccan Whiskey (Moroccan Mint Tea) and laid in the sand to stargaze.
Day 3: After an amazing night, we woke in the morning to ride our camels to the top of the dunes in time to see the sunrise.
We finished our journey via camel back to where our original guide, Hamid, dropped us off. He was there to greet us with our stuff so we could shower and enjoy breakfast at a nearby hotel. We headed off to Fes, passing through Erfoud, the Ziz Valley, Azrou (where you may get to see monkeys!), Ifrane (The Swiss Village of Morocco/ where the ski resorts are) and the day ended in Fes around 6 pm/18:00 when we were dropped off at our Riad.
We had such an amazing, memorable experience on this 3 day adventure into the Sahara Desert, and it would not have been the same without our wonderful guide, Hamid!
Practicalities of The Trip:
The easiest and most convenient way to get to camp in the sahara desert and end up in Fes is through a Three (or more) day tour, with pick up in one city and drop off in the other – Marrakech/Fes or vice versa. We used Original Morocco Tours and they were absolutely wonderful.
We didn’t even consider renting a car to drive to the desert on our own. It was so convenient and hassle-free to have an experienced driver who knows the land, along with a private 4×4 that can handle the sand. A lot of the roads are less traveled on, and if you pop a tire you may not have assistance for quite some time- this would have been quite the problem for 2 city girls. Our driver also took us off-roading on the way to the desert, which was awesome. We felt extremely safe the entire time we were with the company – in terms of us being 2 solo females, his driving, keeping our luggage/belongings in the jeep under his watch, etc.
I was very confused between the different desert treks and I hope this can help clear it up. The 3D/2N trek takes you into Merzouga, which is closer to the Algerian boarder / deeper into the Sahara desert. The 2D/1N trek from Marrakech only takes you to the desert near Quarzazate. Coming from Marrakech, both tours pass through the same places to get to the desert, however, the 3D/2N also sees the extra valleys/gorges and has extra time to go off-roading, etc. On the 3D/2N trek, you spend your first night in Dades Valley, which is unbelievably beautiful. On the second night, you camp in the Sahara Desert in Berber Tents (the tents/grounds are actually operated as a hotel). This is nice because there were people there from other tours/groups/bookings staying there, so we ended up meeting a bunch of really fun guys that we hung out with that night. On the third day, you finish the journey to Fes, passing through new scenery and cities.
Thank you for reading and I hope your Sahara Desert Adventure is just as Amazing
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask!
Original Morocco Tours Can also answer questions and help you arrange your next trip!
For $15 off your first reservation on booking.com, use this link