This Sahara Desert Tour was the best travel experience I’ve ever had. If you can only pick one thing to do during your time in Morocco, I would urge you to take this tour!
Hours were spent researching the best Sahara desert tour to take on our trip to Morocco. I knew we really only had about 3 days of our one week trip that we would be able to dedicate to the desert. Until I began my research, I only learned then how large the country is. There were so many factors to take into consideration when picking our tour company. My top priorities were safety, comfort, and value.
The tour that we ended up booking can be booked at this website here.
Our tour specifically was: Marrakech – Merzouga, 3 Days Shared Sahara Desert Tour with Marrakech Desert Trips.
What type of traveler(s) is this suited for?
Honestly, anyone would love taking this tour; Couples, solo travelers, friends, etc. My best friend and I, two female travelers, took this tour together and we had the time of our life. I would suggest whoever decides to take this tour that you have a moderately active skill level as there’s some light hiking and camel riding involved. However, I do recall them even having motor transport options for those not able to ride camels!
For the 3 days Shared Marrakech to Merzouga desert tour it is €89 which is approximately $97 USD. This includes really nice accommodations, transportation, and most of your meals. It’s such a great value, and totally worth it.
Here is a day by day breakdown of this Sahara Desert Tour:
Day 1 – MARRAKECH – ATLAS MOUNTAINS – KASBAH AIT BEN HADOU – DADES VALLEY (6 hours driving + stops)
Depart from Marrakech. You will start your day bright and early, departing from Marrakech. Your tour guides will communicate through WhatsApp beforehand where they will pick you up and what time. Pickup should either be at your accommodation or very nearby. If you want to do this tour but will be elsewhere from Marrakech, just click on the tour link and find your departing city, they organize lots of tours.
Something you should know – you will be spending a whole lot of time with your driver. Our driver was AMAZING. He was so sweet and we came to trust him very easily. I remember when booking beforehand, some people had some hateful things to say about their driver. Like they couldn’t understand them or they didn’t talk enough. Please remember that at the end of the day your in a foreign country and everyone is doing their best to communicate clearly.
First stop, Atlas Mountains!
Some of the stops are really more like pulling over to take pictures for a few minutes. Not all of them are like this, but some are. However, a few minutes for a photo op is all you really need for most of these destinations.
Stop #2 – Kasbah Ait Ben Hadou
Kasbah Ait Ben Hadou is your second stop on your 3 day Sahara tour. This place was awesome and is a popular filming location as it’s been seen in Gladiator and Game of Thrones. You will have a tour guide and stop for lunch (which will be on your own dime). You will be expected to tip the tour guide as well. I do remember this guide was not particularly very friendly here, however, the tour company has no control over the guides at tourist destinations like this. Enjoy your time and get some pics in the sandy city!
Stop #3 – Dades Valley
The Dades Valley is made up of rugged gorges carved out by the Dades River in Morocco. This will be your last stop of the day! Your hotel will be found in the depths of the valley. The roads to get to your hotel are a bit crazy, so if you get car sick easily, bring some medicine to calm your stomach.
The hotel you will be staying at is HOTEL LE CHATEAU DE DADES. It’s a pretty basic hotel, but really nice and the food was delicious. As I said, the hotel is pretty basic, when we stopped at a grocery store on our way there, we bought a bottle of wine to open up at the hotel along with some snacks.
Day 2 – DADES VALLEY – TINGHIR – MERZOUGA – SAHARA DESERT (4 hours driving + stops)
You’ll likely wake up early and get to enjoy breakfast before departing. Shortly after you depart, your driver will stop to allow you some time to explore the stunning valley!
Next stop – Tinghir
This was one of my favorite stops on our tour! You get a glance at what a traditional Berber home looks like, along with the skill and time it takes to craft traditional Berber carpets. While they give you an extensive guide to Berber carpentry, you’ll be treated to hot Moroccan tea. I’ll be honest, when I heard that “carpets” were the thing to buy in Morocco, I thought it was a bit silly. I’ve heard of collecting mugs, leather, and other traditional goods while traveling – but carpets!? When I saw these carpets, I understood. They were so magnificently beautiful. If I wasn’t backpacking and had a bit more money to blow, I would have snatched one up!
At this point, you are SO close to the Sahara Desert, you can nearly see it. Riding along the highway straight into the sand dunes was one of the most jaw-dropping moments.
Once you arrive at the tour base, you will have the opportunity to quickly use the restrooms and pack a small overnight bag. There is no way that you will be able to pack all of your luggage onto your camel, nor will you want to. They will securely lock up the rest of your luggage for you. They will do a quick Berber turban demonstration if you’d like to ride your camel like a true Berber! Also, it really does help keep the sand out of your eyes, along with some sunglasses.
What you need before getting on the camel: thick pants, a headscarf, sunglasses, sunscreen, a small overnight bag.
Finally, The Sahara Desert.
A massive check off the bucket list! Camping overnight in the Sahara was the most exciting and beautiful experience I’ve had thus far in my life. The endless golden dunes are just something everyone must see if they get the chance to. It’s just pure serenity and bliss.
Traveling to camp, via Camel.
It’s not every day that you can say you rode a camel to your accommodation! Your trek to your overnight camp is LONG. Like, nearly two hours long. Our inner thighs were sore for days. This is why it is especially important that you wear very thick pants.
Don’t worry, there will be plenty of chances to get your photos!
Camping in the Sahara Desert.
After you’ve finally arrived at the camp, you’ll quickly get settled in your tent and prepare for a delicious dinner. All of the meals on this trip were really impressive, and this one did not disappoint! Most of the dishes we ate during our tour were mainly Vegetarian based.
Following dinner, you will be treated to a beautiful night under the stars. There will be music, dancing, stargazing, and our guides even took us on a sand dune hike! Sledding down the dunes at midnight is a moment I will cherish forever.
Do not hesitate to really engage and get to know your tour guides. They are all young, most of them in their 20s, but are very intelligent and can teach you a lot about their culture if you listen. I enjoyed my conversations with them getting to know more about their real way of life away from all of the tourism.
Camping in the Sahara Desert consists of large private tents (for an upgrade) with beds & blankets and restrooms. It’s really more like Glamping! Be sure to bring layers of close to sleep in, nighttime is freezing
Day 3 – MERZOUGA – OUARZAZATE – ATLAS MOUNTAINS – MARRAKECH (9 hours + stops)
Prepare to wake up very early the next morning to begin your camel trek back to the tour base in Merzouga, where an elaborate breakfast awaits. There will be 1-2 more stops for photo ops on the way back, but not near as many as the day before, so be sure to take advantage of your final moments in the beautiful Sahara Desert.
Back on the road again!
The route from the Sahara back to Marrakech is pretty straight (figuratively). Meaning there won’t be as many tourist stops as you had on the way to the desert.
Ouarzazate will be your main stop on the way back to Marrakech, where you’ll enjoy a leisurely lunch & quick look at Atlas Studios.
Atlas Studios is the world’s largest film studio. Iconic film and television shows such as Indiana Jones, Game of Thrones, Aladdin (2019), Mummy, Gladiator and more have used this lot to film on. Unfortunately, you don’t really get a tour of the grounds, it’s really just a quick stop to stretch your legs and walk around outside the gates.
Back on the road to Marrakesh.
You should arrive in Marrakesh/ Marrakech at around 7 pm (19h00). Your driver should drop you off at, or within walking distance to your accommodation.
This tour was so spectacular, and completely exceeded our expectations. For such a low price, you really get your money’s worth and an experience of a lifetime.
That concludes a full 3 Day Tour from Marrakech to the Sahara Desert!
*my fab travel bestie, Annika Berntsen, contributed some of these photos.