Morocco Desert Tours: Everything you should know about a Sahara Desert Tour
So many travelers have an Sahara desert trip on their Morocco wish list. However, as soon as the tour is over, questions begin to surface.
In the process of planning your Morocco Sahara desert tour it could be a bit difficult. What do you know about where to begin when every tour says it’s one of the most popular Morocco tour options in the desert?
If you’re still in the beginning stages of making plans for your Morocco desert excursions and you’re wondering how best to arrange your Morocco desert adventure, you’ll find this Sahara Desert vacation guide very useful. In this article I’m going to provide everything you must be aware of Morocco desert travel, such as:
The ideal place to begin you on Sahara Desert Morocco tour;
Where is the Sahara to go;
What is the most suitable time of the year to take part in any of Sahara tours?
How many days do you have on your Sahara journey;
What can you expect in terms of Morocco costs for desert tours, and what to expect at different price levels;
What to pack for your Morocco desert adventure; and lastly
Some tips on Sahara tours and excursions with kids.
I hope that after you’ve read this article which will provide everything to know about the Sahara Desert tours Morocco offers and more, you’ll be in a much better position to book one of the top Morocco desert tours that’s right for you.
Morocco Desert Tours: Where To Begin? and Where to go?
One of the most important things to consider when planning your Sahara Desert travel is what region of the Sahara will you visit and from where you will begin your trip to Sahara.
There are two major deserts which tourists visit in Morocco for enjoyment during 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 will discuss both these issues further down.
Sahara Desert near Merzouga
Merzouga tours are the most popular Sahara tours in the region, with Merzouga being close to the popular Erg Chebbi sand dunes. The dunes at Erg Chebbi are taller and darker in color than dunes that are found near Zagora making them a much more sought-after location.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of Merzouga tours in the desert is that the town sits near the majestic Erg Chebbi sand dunes. Furthermore, the town is packed with modern hotels, and is a short distance from the sand dunes in just a 30 minute Morocco Camel Trekking. This allows the Merzouga desert adventure relatively easy as well as convenient for people short on time or those who do not want to venture too far from the track.
But its proximity to the sand dunes may also be one of the reasons for its drawback. Because it is more well-known is a reason why it’s more expensive . It will be crowded with a lot of visitors.
Merzouga is located around 9 hours’ drive from Marrakech and 7 hours drive from Fez. If you’re joining one of the Marrakech desert tours, be sure to plan at least two night and three days because you will stop overnight when you get there.
Zagora is situated in the southern portion of Morocco and is in close proximity to Erg Chigaga sand dunes. These dunes lie around 60km from the nearest road and thus the journey to view them takes quite a lot longer then to see the sand dunes from Merzouga.
To reach Zagora You must first get to the tiny settlement of M’hamid. From there, it’s a long drive through the rough desert terrain before you reach Zagora’s Erg Chigaga sand dunes.
It’s also important to note that the 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. Therefore, for this reason (as well as taking longer to reach) it tends to be less well-known than Merzouga and is usually for the budget traveller or those looking to get off the beaten road.
Zagora is located approximately 6 hours drive far from Marrakech or 9.5 hours driving distance far from Fez (without the need for stops).
Where to Commence?
The most well-known location to start Sahara Desert trips is from Marrakech. It is mainly because Marrakech is the capital city of Morocco and also where most people start their trip. But, you can also travel to Sahara Desert from Fes. Be aware that since the Marrakech Desert safaris are more sought-after, there are different options to choose from here.
A well-known route is a Marrakech tour from Marrakech to Fes excursion in the Sahara desert. This means that you begin your trip in Marrakech and after an enjoyable Sahara desert safari, head towards Fez and vice reverse.
How Many Days to Allow for a Morocco Sahara Tour?
Trucks and campervans in Dades Gorge in Morocco.
The amount of driving needed to travel to either Merzouga and Zagora however, no matter whether your visit is from Marrakech or Fez you can expect a full day of driving to and from. This is why it’s not feasible to go on any kind of Fez or Marrakech day trip to the desert.
In a minimum, you can take overnight Sahara trips at Marrakech or Fez For an Sahara Desert camp trip to be worthwhile , you’ll have to plan two or three nights. If you are planning a two- or three night Sahara camping trip, a large portion of your trip will only be driving.
If you’re beginning to embark on your Sahara Desert experience in Marrakech and have only one night to spare, your best bet is to visit the closer Zagora Desert. If however you have two or three days, you can easily visit the stunning orange sand dunes of Merzouga Desert.
If you are planning to book a 2 or 3 night tour, make sure to make sure at least two of the nights are in actual desert. The most affordable tours are only overnight in the desert, and any other nights will be spent in an accommodation. In a stay of two to three days in the desert you will be in a position to explore in the desert on a much slower pace and partake in many activities, such as visiting local tribes such as sandboarding along with camel trekking and taking a break among the gorgeous sand dunes.
Visiting the Agafay Desert
If you are short on hours, Marrakech day excursions to the Agafay Desert is a good alternative. The Agafay Desert is located 40km southwest of Marrakesh and is a rough dry moon like landscape.
You won’t see the stunning dunes of sand as you will within Merzouga or Zagora, on this Marrakech day excursion into the desert you’ll still be able to ride a camel across the desert. I need to stress that the Agafay Desert is not the Sahara Desert.
The Agafay Desert is also a good option if you are visiting Morocco in summer. Many Morocco camps in the desert close down for a month or two due to the extreme temperature and risk involved with bringing people to the desert during this time.
If you’re thinking of a Sahara Morocco tour in summer think about visiting the Agafay desert camp located just outside Marrakech instead . There, it will remain hot but the camps remain open.
Should I DIY or Book a Guided Sahara Trip?
It’s completely possible to do the DIY Sahara tour. You can rent an automobile and drive yourself to the sand dune area, or take a bus. On arrival you can arrange all of your activities on your own and do exactly what you want within the Sahara.
However, when sleeping in the Sahara, there are numerous advantages by joining one of the desert Morocco tours, that it far outweighs making it your own. Here are some of the reasons to book one on the Morocco Sahara Desert tours:
The best Morocco desert tours are all one-stop and include transportation from either Marrakech or Fez in addition to activities, lodging and in most cases all meals.
There’s a lesser chance of getting lost;
When you take a guided desert Morocco tour Your guide will be aware of the best places to stop for those amazing pictures;
You’ll experience less problems regarding language barriers.
You can reasonably be assured of your safety.
Overall you have more chances of the entire trip going in the right direction.
What kind of Sahara Desert Camp to Book What type of Sahara Desert Camp to Book? Budget, Luxury, or Mid-Range?
If you’ve got an idea of the places you’d like to go on your desert safari tour in Morocco and the number of days you’re allowed to stay there It’s time to begin working out whether you’d like to book a cheap, mid-range or luxury tour.
But before booking any tour, ask the Morocco tour operator in the desert to answer the following inquiries:
What’s included in the Sahara desert tour cost? What is not included?
Do you actually have tours in the time that you’ll be there and how hot will it be? This is something you’ll want to know for in the summer months. Most operators do not offer services during summer. There is no air conditioning, and temperatures could easily rise to between 100-110F during the day and mid 70’s at night.
Where will you stop in addition to the name of any hotel or riads?
If it’s not on one on the Morocco private desert tours how many other travelers will be traveling together?
Are there any stops with additional tours , or tips will cost you money?
What meals will be covered from pocket? And what’s the average cost?
If you do not want to eat at the locations stopped for meals, are there other options?
What is the arrangement for sleeping in this camp in the desert?
What is the full schedule of the tour? What are the breaks, and when to be at and out of the desert camp?
If you’re dealing with any health issues like back pain (me!) inquire if they have a back rest for the camel to give you additional assistance.
Simply Google “budget Sahara Desert tours” and you will be inundated with terrible reviews by unhappy clients. While many appeared to have been promises of luxurious and serene tents situated in the middle of breathtaking sand dunes is a sea of tents, low-quality facilities and plenty of disappointment.
That’s not to say there aren’t good budget tours out in the world, I’m sure they exist, but the problem is that high-quality budget tours don’t appear to be the norm. That’s my own personal experience.
Here are some things you can expect on a budget tour:
Often , poor meals at most, served with the desert. All other meals are paid for at the expense of you;
A lot of people are who are on your tour
No toilets , you are supposed to go to the sand , or perhaps in a basic toilet;
Showers are not available;
Insecure bedding or even sleeping on the sand
Communication / Language issues.
For some people that aren’t, this may not be a problem. You might want to have a more rustic experience. That’s awesome! If you’re looking for a low-cost desert adventure but are expecting something more it’s a long drive and no way out when you arrive.
A mid-range campground will have some of the amenities found in a luxury camp , but might come with fewer frills as the budget camp. This option might also have private transportation vs. an shared ride. To determine whether something is in the middle, compare the prices given to budget and luxury alternatives.
The luxurious Sahara tour is so lavish that the guests won’t be aware that they are camping!! The luxury tour I went on was so incredible that my bed seemed even more comfortable than my bedroom!
Here are some things that you can expect on an expensive tour:
Tents, camp sites, and individual tents and individual tents with drinking water
Tents with heating
The beds are large and comfortable;
Private area for sitting;
Delicious Moroccan meals
To learn more about luxury travel you can read about my experience in this post.
Other Tips About Booking a Tour
My primary advice to the travelers is to book your tour well in advance prior to arriving in Morocco. While it’s possible to book at the time of arrival, if you book prior to your arrival, you’ll be able to complete your research and make sure you have are booking with a known tour operator and understand the exact details you’ll encounter during your trip.
In the past, I’ve read reviews from people who were dissatisfied by their trip, and this could easily be avoided if they had done their research.
If you are in Marrakech or Fez there are a lot of tour touts in the medina busting customers with Morocco Sahara trips. If you’ve not reserved your trip in advance, you could well end up booking the tour you know nothing about or being influenced to take a tour simply because it’s a reasonable price.
A trip to the Sahara Desert trips Morocco offers are a rare experience, so it’s important to ensure that you do not end up disappointed. Trust me when I say that when it comes to an Sahara trip , you do get what your money for.
Morocco – Sahara Desert Tour: What is the best time of year to go?
As with all destinations There are times of the time are more favorable than others when it comes to Sahara desert explorations.
Many would suggest that the most ideal time of year for vacations and holidays within the Sahara desert is between April and October as the day and nighttime temperatures are milder.
If you go to the area during winter (December through March), you may find temperatures at night that are just below freezing, whereas in those summer months (June up to the end of September) the summer days can be extremely hot.
It’s also important to note that many desert tours shut in the summer time (specifically from August).
What are the essentials to bring on your Sahara desert journeys?
In order to appropriately pack and pack you Morocco Sahara desert trip, it is necessary to know a few things about the type of campsite you’ll be staying in. Before you start packing, learn what you can about your camp:
What are the sleep arrangements? Do you have a bedroom with covers, or do you need to carry your own? Will you have a bed or be sleeping on the ground? Are there heaters in the tents?
What is the bathroom facility It is crucial for you to be aware of which clothes make bathroom time easy and you don’t have to carry toiletries.
What food(s) and drinks will be provided? Or will you have bring your own on the way and at the camp?