Morocco Desert Tours: Everything you should know about a Sahara Desert Tour
Many travelers have an Sahara desert tour on their Morocco wishlist. But, in the blink of an eye, the questions appear.
When you are planning to plan your Morocco Sahara desert tour it can be quite a challenge. Where do you know to begin when every tour says it’s one of the top Morocco desert excursions?
If you’re in the early stages of creating your Morocco desert adventure and are wondering how to best plan your Morocco desert journey, you’re going to get this Sahara Desert vacation guide very helpful. In this guide, I’m going to provide all the basics you should be aware of when planning your Morocco desert adventures, which includes:
The ideal place to begin you on Sahara Desert Morocco tour;
Where in the Sahara to visit;
What is the most suitable time of the year to take part in one of the Sahara tours;
How many days do you have on your Sahara journey;
What to expect in terms of Morocco cost of desert tours and what can you expect to pay at different price points
What should you bring for your Morocco desert getaway; and lastly
A few tips for Sahara tours and travelling with kids.
After reading this guide that covers all you need to know about the Sahara Desert tours Morocco offers You’ll be in a much better position for booking one of the top Morocco desert tours that’s perfect for you.
Morocco Desert Tours: Where To Begin? and Where to go?
One of the first things you need to do is decide on your Sahara Desert travels is which region of Sahara will you visit and also where you’ll start your trip to Sahara.
There are two main deserts that tourists can visit in Morocco for its Sahara Desert holiday – either the Merzouga Desert or the Zagora Desert and usually tourists begin their tour from Marrakech as well as Fez. We will discuss both these aspects further down.
Sahara Desert near Merzouga
Merzouga tours are the most popular Sahara tours, with Merzouga being close to the renowned Erg Chebbi sand dunes. The dunes of Erg Chebbi are taller and richer in color then the dunes that are found near Zagora so they are a popular destination.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of Merzouga tours in the desert is the fact that the town lies in the middle of the impressive Erg Chebbi sand dunes. In addition, the town is packed with modern hotels, and you can easily reach the sand dunes with the short of a 30-minute Morocco Camel Trekking. This allows the Merzouga desert adventure relatively easy and practical, and is ideal to those short on time or not wanting to get away from the main route.
But its proximity to the sand dunes can also be its down in the fall. Because it is more well-known the place is costlier and can get busy with lots of visitors.
Merzouga is situated around 9 hours’ drive in Marrakech and 7 hours’ drive from Fez. If you’re joining on one of Marrakech desert tours, you’ll need to plan at least two night and three days because the tour stops overnight during the journey to get there.
Zagora is located in the southern portion of Morocco and is located in close proximity to Erg Chigaga sand dunes. These sand dunes are located around 60km from the nearest road , thus the journey to view them is a good bit longer than the sand dunes of Merzouga.
To reach Zagora to reach Zagora, first arrive at the city of M’hamid. From there, it’s a long hike through the rugged desert terrain before arriving 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 a more moon like appearance. Therefore, for this reason (as as it takes longer to get there) it does tend to be less popular over Merzouga and is generally for the budget traveller or those who like to be off the beaten trail.
Zagora is located around 6 hours’ drive away from Marrakech as well as 9.5 hours drive in Fez (without stops).
Where to Commence?
The most well-known location to begin Sahara Desert trips is from Marrakech. Mainly this is because Marrakech has been deemed the capital of Morocco and where many travelers commence their trip. It is also possible to visit Sahara Desert from Fes. But, given that the Marrakech Desert excursions are the most well-known, there are many alternatives from here.
A very popular route is to do a Marrakech route from Fes trip through the desert. So start your trip in Marrakech and , after you’ve completed your Sahara desert safari move onto Fez – or vica reverse.
How Many Days to Allow for a Morocco Sahara Tour?
Campervans and truckers in the Dades Gorge in Morocco.
The amount of driving required for a visit to Merzouga or Zagora and regardless of whether you are visiting in Marrakech or Fez expect a long day of driving to and back. For this reason, it’s not feasible to go on one of the Fez or Marrakech day trip to the desert.
As a minimum, you are able to do overnight Sahara trips starting from Marrakech or Fez however, for a 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 tour will still only be driving.
If you’re planning to begin your Sahara Desert experience in Marrakech and only have one night available the best option is to visit the closer Zagora Desert. If you’re able to spare two or three nights you can easily visit the stunning orange sand dunes of Merzouga Desert.
If you are planning to opt for a two or three night tour, be sure to double ensure that at least two nights actually spent in the desert. Many of the cheaper tours will spend just the single night spent in desert, however, any additional nights will be in a hotel. Staying two to three nights in the desert means you’ll be capable of exploring your desert in a much more leisurely pace, and also participate in numerous activities such as visiting tribes from the local area as well as sand boarding or camel trekking, and lying back in the stunning sand dunes.
Visiting the Agafay Desert
If you’re short on hours, Marrakech day excursions to the Agafay Desert is a good alternative. The Agafay Desert is located 40km southwest of Marrakesh and has a rough dry moon like landscape.
You won’t find the amazing dunes of sand as you will on Merzouga or Zagora on this Marrakech day trip to the desert you’ll still be able to ride a camel over the desert – I just need to stress that Agafay Desert is not the Sahara Desert.
It is worth a visit to the Agafay Desert is also a ideal option for anyone traveling to Morocco in the summertime. There are many Morocco desert camps close down in the course of a month or two due to the extreme temperature and the risk of taking people to the desert during this time.
So if you’re planning a Sahara Morocco tour in summer, consider visiting an Agafay desert camp close to Marrakech instead . There, it will still be hot but camps will be open.
Should I DIY or Book a Guided Sahara Trip?
It’s entirely possible to take the DIY Sahara safari. It is possible to hire an auto and drive yourself to the sand dune area, or perhaps take a bus. After arriving, you can arrange every single thing you wish to do and do what you like at the Sahara.
But when it comes to camp in the Sahara there are many advantages when you join one of the desert Morocco tours, that it far outweighs going it alone. Here are a few of the reasons why to consider booking one among the Morocco Sahara Desert tours:
The most enjoyable Morocco desert trips are all inclusive and include transportation between Marrakech or Fez and Fez, as well as activities, accommodation and usually most, if not all meals.
There is less chance of becoming lost.
If you are on a guided desert Morocco tour Your guide will be aware of all the best places to stop and take amazing photos
There will be less difficulty dealing with language barriers.
You are reasonably assured of your security; and
Overall you have more chances that your entire trip will go according in the right direction.
What is the best Sahara Desert Camp to Book – Budget, Luxury or Mid-Range?
If you’ve got an idea of where you’d like to go on your desert safari tour in Morocco and the number of days are available, it’s time to start working out whether you’d like to book a low-cost and mid-priced or luxury tour.
Before booking any tour, ask the Morocco tour operator in the desert to answer the following inquiries:
What is included in the Sahara desert tour cost? What is not included?
Do you have any tours during the time you’ll be there and how the temperature is it? This is something you’ll want to know for those who travel during the summer. A lot of operators don’t offer services during the summer months. There isn’t air conditioning and temperatures can easily get to 100-110F during the day and mid 70’s in the evening.
Where will you be stopping and what is the name of any hotels or riads?
If it’s not one on the Morocco private desert tours how many others are traveling with you?
Are there any destinations that offer additional tours or additional tips will cost you money?
What meals will you pay out of pocket ? What’s the average price?
If you do not want to dine at the places that have been closed for meals There are other choices?
What do you think of the sleeping arrangements in this camp in the desert?
What is the complete schedule of the tour? It includes dates for stops and times to start and depart the desert camp?
If you’re suffering from any health concerns, like back pain (me!) ask them if they can provide a backrest for your camel to provide additional assistance.
Just Google “budget Sahara Desert tours” and you will be bombarded with negative reviews by unhappy clients. While many appeared to be offered luxury and tranquil tents set in stunning dunes, reality is an ocean of tents, poor facilities and a whole lot of discontent.
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 the quality of budget-friendly tours do not appear to be the typical. This is also my own personal experience as well.
Here are some of the things you can expect on an affordable tour:
Often , subpar meals are at most, they are served in the desert, all other meals are paid for at your own expense.
Many people will be who are on your tour
No toilets – you are obliged to take a shower on the sand or perhaps in a basic toilet;
Sleeping in uncomfortable bedding, or on the sand
Problems with communication and language.
For some people, this is a non-issue. You may want to go for the experience of being in a rural setting. That’s awesome! However, if you’re looking for a desert getaway that isn’t expensive but expect something more it’s an extremely long drive with an impossible exit after you reach there.
Mid-range camps will offer some of the amenities found in an expensive camp, but could have fewer frills like the budget camp. This type of camp may also provide private transportation, vs. the shared ride. To determine whether something is mid-range , compare the services given to budget and luxury alternatives.
The luxurious Sahara tour is so lavish, you won’t even realize you’re camping!! The luxury tour I took such a delight that my bed seemed even better than mattress at home!
Here are some of the things you can anticipate on a luxury tour:
Camp sites and individual tents and individual tents with drinking water
Beds that are comfortable and large;
Private spaces for sitting;
Delicious Moroccan meals
To learn more about luxury travel you can read about my experience in this article.
Other Tips About Booking a Tour
My primary advice to the travelers is to book your tour in advance before arriving in Morocco. While it’s possible to book at the time of arrival, if you book in advance you will have time to do your research and make are booking with a reputable tour group and know precisely what you will experience during your trip.
There are many times that I’ve read about reviews that have stated that people have been disappointed with their tour, this could easily have been avoided if they’d done their own research.
Once you’re in Marrakech or Fez you’ll find a variety of tour operators in the medina busting customers with Morocco Sahara trips. If you’ve not reserved your trip in advance, you could possibly end up booking an itinerary you’re aware of little about, or be influenced to book a tour because it’s a reasonable price.
It is true that the Sahara Desert trips Morocco offers are for many a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so it’s important that you are not disappointed. Trust me when I say that when it comes to a Sahara trip , you do get what you paid for.
Morocco and the Sahara Desert Tour: What is the best time to go?
Similar to any other destination, certain times of the season are better than others for Sahara desert excursions.
Many would suggest that the best time to celebrate festivities in the Sahara desert is between April and October , as the night and daytime temperatures are milder.
If you plan to visit during the winter months (December to March), you may find the nighttime temperatures below freezing, while during the summer season (June up to the end of September) the heat can be oppressive.
It’s also important to note that many desert tours end during summer (specifically when it’s August).
What should you pack for your Sahara desert journeys?
To ensure that you pack the right items in the right way for the Morocco Sahara desert trip, you’ll need to know some basic information regarding the kind of camp you’ll be staying at. Before you start packing, make sure you know the following information about your camp:
What is the arrangement for sleeping? Are you sleeping on a bed with covers or do you need take your own? Are you sleeping in an actual bed or will you rest on the ground? Are there heaters in the tents?
What facilities are available in the bathroom; this is important for you to determine what clothes will make bathroom-ing easy and you don’t have to carry toiletries.
Do you know what food(s) and drinks are available, or do you be required to take your own before and during your stay at the campsite?