Morocco Desert Tours: Everything you must know about Sahara Desert Tour
Many travelers have an Sahara desert tour on their Morocco wishlist. However, as soon as the tour is over, questions begin to appear.
The process of planning Your Morocco Sahara desert tour it could be a bit difficult. How do you determine where to start when every tour boasts that it is one of the most popular Morocco Desert tours?
If you’re just in the beginning stages of making plans for your Morocco desert explorations and are thinking what the best way to organize your Morocco desert travel, then you’re going to be able to find the Sahara Desert vacation guide very helpful. In this article I’m going to discuss everything you should be aware of about Morocco desert adventures, which includes:
The ideal location to start your Sahara Desert Morocco tour;
Where in the Sahara to visit;
What is the best time of the year to take part in some of Sahara tours;
How long should you spend on your Sahara excursion;
What to expect of Morocco costs for desert tours, and what you can expect at different price points
What should you pack for your Morocco desert adventure; and lastly
A few helpful tips on Sahara tours and traveling with children.
We hope that, after reading this guide which covers everything there is to know about Sahara Desert tours Morocco offers that you’ll be in better position to reserve one of the most memorable Morocco desert excursions that’s ideal for you.
Morocco Desert Tours: Where to Start and Where to go?
One of the first items you have to determine for your Sahara Desert travels is which region of the Sahara will you explore and where will you commence your journey to Sahara.
There are two major deserts that tourists visit in Morocco for your Sahara Desert holiday – either the Merzouga Desert or the Zagora Desert and usually tourists start their journey from either Marrakech or Fez. We will discuss both these areas further below.
Sahara Desert near Merzouga
Merzouga tours are the most sought-after Sahara tours, with Merzouga being located close to the renowned Erg Chebbi sand dunes. The dunes of Erg Chebbi are taller and more vibrant than the dunes that are found near Zagora and make them a more sought-after destination.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of Merzouga tours in the desert is that the town sits near the impressive Erg Chebbi sand dunes. Furthermore, the town is filled with modern hotels and is a short distance from the sand dunes in only a 30-minute Morocco Camel Trekking. This makes an Merzouga desert safari relatively easy and convenient and ideal for those who are short on time or those who do not want to venture out of the path.
But its proximity to the sand dunes may also be one of the reasons for its drawback. Due to its popularity this place can be more expensive . It gets busy with a large number of tourists.
Merzouga is located about 9 hours’ drive in Marrakech which is 7 hours away from Fez. If you’re joining one of the Marrakech desert tours, it is necessary to make room for two days and two nights as there will be a night stop in the middle of the trip.
Zagora is located in the southern portion of Morocco and is close to the Erg Chigaga sand dunes. These sand dunes are located some 60 km from the nearest road , consequently, the walk to see them takes quite a lot more time than to visit the sand dunes that are located in Merzouga.
To get to Zagora You must first arrive at the settlement of M’hamid. From here it’s a rather lengthy trek through rugged desert terrain until you arrive at the Erg Chigaga sand dunes.
It’s also important it is important to note that Zagora desert is not the orange-colored desert you might imagine . This is one of the deserts made of stone, and has more of a moonlike appearance. For this reason (as as it takes longer to get there) it tends to be less popular as Merzouga and is a good choice suitable for the budget-conscious traveler or for those who want to go off the beaten path.
Zagora is situated about 6 hours’ drive from Marrakech as well as 9.5 hours drive far from Fez (without stops).
Where to Commence?
The most sought-after location to start Sahara Desert trips is from Marrakech. Most likely, this is due to Marrakech is known as the capital of Morocco and is where the majority of travelers begin their journey. However, you can travel to Sahara Desert from Fes. Just note that given the Marrakech Desert tours are more popular, there are many different options to choose from here.
A very popular route is to go on it as a Marrakech and Fes trip through the desert. So start your trip in Marrakech before you go on an enjoyable Sahara desert safari, move on to Fez and vice reverse.
How Many Days to Allow for a Morocco Sahara Tour?
Campervans and trucks in the Dades Gorge in Morocco.
Given the huge amount of driving required to reach either Merzouga and Zagora however, no matter whether your visit is via Marrakech or Fez, expect a very full day of driving there and back. Because of this, it’s not feasible to go on the Fez or Marrakech desert day trips.
At the very minimum, you could do overnight Sahara excursions starting from Marrakech or Fez, but for a Sahara Desert camp trip to be worth it, you should allow for two to three nights. Even doing a two or three-night Sahara camping tour, a substantial portion of the trip will only be driving.
If you’re starting with your Sahara Desert experience in Marrakech and you only have single night to stay in the best option is to go to the nearby Zagora Desert. If you’re lucky enough to have two or three nights you are able to easily explore the breathtaking orange sand dunes found in the Merzouga Desert.
If you decide to plan a 2- or 3- nights tour, you should double check that at least two nights actually spent in the desert. The most affordable tours only spend overnight in the desert however, any additional nights will be spent in a hotel. In a stay of two to three days in the desert you will be able to explore your desert in a more leisurely pace, and also participate in many activities, such as visiting tribes from the local area including sand boarding as well as camel trekking, or just taking a break among the gorgeous sand dunes.
Visiting the Agafay Desert
For those short on hours, Marrakech day excursions to the Agafay Desert is a good alternative. The Agafay Desert is located 40km southwest of Marrakesh and features a rough dry moon like landscape.
There aren’t any amazing sand dunes like you do with Merzouga or Zagora on this Marrakech day excursion to the desert, you’ll still have the opportunity for a ride on a camel across the desert – I just would like to remind you that Agafay Desert is not the Sahara Desert.
The Agafay Desert is also a good option if you are visiting Morocco in summer. Many Morocco desert camps shut down for a couple of months because of the extreme temperatures as well as the risks involved in inviting people to the desert during summer.
So if you’re planning a Sahara Morocco tour in summer take a look at an Agafay desert camp just outside Marrakech instead where it will remain hot but the camp sites are still open.
Should I DIY or Book a Guided Sahara Trip?
It’s totally possible to make the DIY Sahara safari. It is possible to hire a vehicle and drive towards the sand dunes or take a bus. After arriving, you can arrange the activities you want to do and do whatever you’d like to do on the Sahara.
But when it comes to camping in the Sahara, there are many advantages with joining one of the desert Morocco tours, that it far outweighs doing it on your own. Here are the top reasons to book one from the Morocco Sahara Desert tours:
The most enjoyable Morocco desert trips are all inclusive and include your transportation between Marrakech or Fez accommodations, activities and usually most, if not all meals;
There is a lower chance of getting lost;
On a guiding desert Morocco tour the guide will know all the best places where you can stop for amazing photos
You’ll be less likely to have issues when it comes to language barriers.
You can reasonably be assured of your safety.
In the end, you’ll have a better chance of your trip going exactly as you planned.
What type of Sahara Desert Camp to Book Do you want to book a Sahara Desert camp that is Budget, Mid-Range or Luxury?
You now have an idea of where you’d like your next destination to be on your desert safari trip in Morocco and the amount of time you’ve got available now is the time to begin choosing whether to go on a budget, mid-range or luxury tour.
But before booking any tour, you should ask the Morocco desert tour company to answer the following inquiries:
What is included in the quoted Sahara desert tour cost? What’s not included?
Do you actually have tours scheduled during the time you’ll spend there? How do you feel? This is something you’ll want to know for summer time. A lot of operators don’t offer services during summer. There is no air conditioning, and temperatures can easily get to 100-110F during the daytime and the mid 70’s at night.
Where will you stop and what is the name that of any establishments or riads?
If it is not one from the Morocco private desert tours how many other travelers will be travelling together?
Are there any stops with additional tours or tips that you are expected to pay?
What meals will you pay out of pocket and what’s the cost average?
If you’re not able to eat at the locations stopped for meals What other alternatives do you have?
What are the sleeping arrangements for your desert camp?
What is the entire schedule of the trip, including breaks, and when to be at and out of the camp in the desert?
If you’re dealing with any health problems, such as a bad back (me!) ask them if they can provide a back rest available for the camel to give you additional support.
Just Google “budget Sahara Desert tours” and you will be bombarded by reviews from disappointed customers. Although many appear to have been assured of luxury and tranquil tents set in stunning sand dunes is a sea of tents, poor facilities and a lot of displeasure.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t quality budget tours there, as I’m certain there are. The problem is that good budget tours don’t seem to be the standard. Unfortunately, this is my personal experience.
Here are a few of the things you can expect from a budget tour:
Often mediocre meals – at least, included in the desert. All other meals are at the expense of you;
Many people will be were on the tour with you;
No toilets – you are obliged to take a shower on the sand or maybe in a toilet that is basic;
Showers are not available;
Insecure bedding or even sleeping on the sand;
Communication / Language issues.
For some people who are not concerned about this, it’s not an issue. Some people prefer more of a rustic experience. That’s awesome! However, if you’re looking for a cheap desert trip but want something more it’s a long drive with an impossible exit the moment you reach.
A mid-range camp will have many of the amenities of the luxury camps, but it may include fewer frills than the budget camp. This option might also have private transportation vs. a shared ride. To determine if an option is in the middle, compare the prices given to budget and luxury alternatives.
The luxury Sahara trips are so luxurious, it’s hard to believe you’re camping!! In fact, the luxurious tour I took so amazing as to make the beds even better than own mattress at home!
Here are a few things you can expect during an extravagant tour:
Camping sites and tents and individual tents with drinking water
Beds that are comfortable and large;
Private sitting areas;
Delicious Moroccan meals
To find out more about luxury tours You can read about my experiences in this post.
Other Tips About Booking a Tour
My top tip for you is to make sure that you book your tour in advance before arriving in Morocco. Although it is possible to book on arrival, by booking in advance , you’ll be able to complete your research and ensure you that you book with a reputable tour group and know the exact details you’ll encounter when you go on your tour.
Many times, I’ve read reviews from people who were disappointed by their trip, and this could easily have been avoided if they had done their research.
When you arrive in either Marrakech or Fez you’ll find a variety of tour guides in the medina busting tourists with their Morocco Sahara trips. If you’ve not booked in advance you may have to take a tour that you know little about, or be influenced by a tour’s price because it’s a reasonable price.
It is true that the Sahara Desert trips Morocco offers offer a unique opportunity, so it’s very essential that you do not leave disappointed. Be sure to trust me when I say to taking a Sahara excursion – you do get what your money for.
Morocco – Sahara Desert Tour: What time of the year to go?
As with any destination There are times of the season are better than others for Sahara desert explorations.
Most people believe that the best time of year for getaways to the Sahara desert is between April and October because the night and daytime temperatures are cooler.
If you decide to visit during the winter months (December to March) there is a chance that you will find the temperatures in the evening just below freezing, whereas in these summer months (June from September) the days can get extremely hot.
It’s also important to note that many desert tours close during summer (specifically during August).
What do you need to pack for your Sahara desert travels?
To ensure that you pack the right items with the proper items for to pack appropriately for Morocco Sahara desert trip, you’ll have to know some basic information about the camp you’ll be staying in. Before packing, you should know the following about the camp you’ll be staying in:
What are your sleeping arrangements? Do you have a bedroom with covers or will you need to take your own? Will you have a bed or rest on the ground? Are there any heat sources in the tents?
What facilities do you have in the bathroom It is crucial so that you know what you can wear to make bathroom-ing simple and whether you will need to take toiletries.
What food(s) and drinks will be provided? Or will you need to bring your own before and during your stay at the camp?