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Info about Desert Trips from Marrakech

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East Gwillimbury...
posts: 2,232
reviews: 74
Info about Desert Trips from Marrakech

While most of southern Morocco is an arid region, if you are looking to find the "real" Sahara (rolling sand dunes with very little vegetation), you will need to travel a fair distance away from Marrakech.

The 2 closest desert areas from Marrakech are Erg Chebbi near Merzouga, and Erg Chiggaga near Mhamid. Erg Chebbi is the more popular of the 2 with travellers, given its higher, colourful dunes, though reports vary concerning the actual heights of the dunes in both places. Both of these areas are a full day's drive from Marrakech (over 500km's); keeping in mind that the speed limit on open roads in Morocco is 80km/h; 60km/h or 50km/h in towns. Expect the total 1-way driving time to these areas to be approximately 9-10 hours with limited stops.

Given the distances involved, it is recommended that the minimum required time to enjoy a desert trip from Marrakech is 4 days/3 nights. Using this plan, it will limit the amount of drive-time in 1 day to around 4-5 hours, and give you the opportunity to actually see some of the country instead of rushing thru and missing out on sights en-route. The round-trip can be done in 3 days/2 nights, however this means that 1 of the days will be a full-day drive without the chance to see anything but sights thru the window of a vehicle. A 2 day/1 night desert trip, while theoretically possible, is not recommended.

Popular overnight stopping places en-route to the desert are Ait Ben Haddou, Ouarzazate, Skoura, the Agdz area, Todra Gorge & Dades Gorge. Hotels & guesthouses can easily be found in all of these areas.

While many travellers choose to hire a tour company or car & driver for desert trips, one can easily hire a rental car and drive themselves. Once outside of Marrakech, the driving is very straightforward, with relatively little traffic, good signs (French & Arabic) and decent road conditions. The Tizi n Tichka Pass over the High Atlas Mtns. is a mountain pass with many twists and turns, but is in good condition, and should only be a potential problem in poor or winter weather.

The only part of a desert trip from Marrakech that *requires* a guide, is the actual overnight desert trek. One can hire camels or 4x4 vehicle for an overnight trip onto the dunes via organized company, local guide or desert hotel/guesthouse. Many can be found and booked online via their website/direct email.

The TripAdvisor forums have MANY of these contacts already listed by travellers, and trip reports also contain excellent info posted by those who have already been. For more detailed info from others already posted, type in key-words (eg. desert tours, desert trek, tour companies, camel trek, etc.) into the Morocco forums Search Box, and one will find many pages of excellent, specific information that has been contributed by your fellow travellers.

A desert camp generally consists of a group of semi-permanent tents, grouped together with a central eating/gathering area and (hopefully) separate toilet/outhouse. Some camps even offer running water, flush toilets and shower! Of course, facilities will vary depending on cost and services offered. Overnight treks usually leave from the edge of the dunes around sunset, and will return in the early morning light, before the heat of the day sets in. Expect to have dinner at camp, and possibly a very light breakfast as well. If you book your trek via a desert hotel, it may be possible to leave luggage in a storage area in the hotel instead of a vehicle overnight. **Be sure to ask all questions regarding services and facilities offered BEFORE you book your desert trek, so that you will not be disappointed upon arrival at camp.

Hopefully this information has been helpful to any potential desert-trekkers. I hope that others will add other useful information as time goes on as well. A Moroccan desert trek is an unforgettable experience, and I hope you have a great time!

Best regards,

1. Re: Info about Desert Trips from Marrakech

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Removed on: 5:48 am, November 11, 2010
Cardiff, United...
posts: 929
reviews: 31
2. Re: Info about Desert Trips from Marrakech

Just back from Morocco this week.

Did the Desert tour and totally agree with spmm. The minimum time you need to see the dunes at Erg Chebbi is 3 days 2 nights (you will still be slightly rushed on the last day). If you have the time then I would also recommend 4 days, 3 nights. I read all the reviews about how much travelling is involved but you won't believe it until you are actually there.

Expect to pay anything from £17 to £30 for the overnight desert experience (this will include a room to store your luggage in Merzouga, 1 hour camel ride, dinner, overnight stay in a tent, camel ride back, breakfast and a room to shower in before you leave Merzouga).

3. Re: Info about Desert Trips from Marrakech

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Removed on: 10:05 pm, October 16, 2010
Feltham, United...
posts: 3
reviews: 1
4. Re: Info about Desert Trips from Marrakech

Hi, you mentioned that you just came back from Morocco and did a desert tour. Could you please tell me what the itinerary is like? (i.e. what time do you leave Marrakesh, stops along the way and what time do you arrive back on the 3rd day?)

I am booking a different riad and need to tell them the time I am arriving back from the desert tour. Please advise.

Could you also tell me which tour group you went with?

Many thanks,

Yatsh

5. Re: Info about Desert Trips from Marrakech

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Removed on: 10:37 pm, November 28, 2014
Edited: 10:37 pm, November 28, 2014
Milton Keynes...
posts: 11
6. Re: Info about Desert Trips from Marrakech

hi MIB15 cardiff

First of all thankyou for your report, it is quite helpful. I am going to Morocco with my wife and son for 10 days. I am renting a car and driving to all the places recommended by you. Can you please recommend some hotels/ B&B and also places to stopover during our journey from Marrekech to Ourazazate to Erg Chebbi and then to Fez and back to Marrekech.

Please also recommend any stop overs during motorways journey and any do and don't please.

Thanking you in advance.

Texas
posts: 234
reviews: 6
7. Re: Info about Desert Trips from Marrakech

Thank all of you for your reports..they aremost helpful as I start to plan an 8 day trip next October.

May I ask .....in your quote of 1200dh for Jalil's driving/desert experience....did that include your accomodations as well? I'm trying to estimate what is to be expected cost-wise for a trip from Fes to Merzouga to Marrakech for a total of 8 nites. Actually Ideally I would like to have a guide/driver meet us at the ferry in Tangier since we will be in Marbella the week before and it doesn't seem to make sense to fly back to Madrid to Casablanca and get picked up there. I have decided though to fly back to Madrid from Marrakech so we are not back-tracking.

East Gwillimbury...
posts: 2,232
reviews: 74
8. Re: Info about Desert Trips from Marrakech

Hi nalismom,

I'm glad that you've found this thread helpful, however there are currently several active topics about guides, and one in particular about the guide you've montioned (the ever-present "fabulous driver recommendation" topic). Perhaps your question would be better suited to that thread? It would probably be best to keep this thread solely about desert trips from Marrakech; hence the title, and not individual guide details.

Thanks, and I'm sure you'll find lots of info there, as there are over 70 posts on that topic right now.

cheers

Edited: 10:51 pm, October 23, 2010
Cardiff, United...
posts: 929
reviews: 31
9. Re: Info about Desert Trips from Marrakech

Hi Aladdin1980,

The road to Merzouga is a single carrageway all the way from Marrakech to Merzouga (no motorway), the first 3 hours can be quite a slow drive as you will be going up and over the High Atlas Mountain. After this period the road is straight and well sign posted (just be aware that there are lots of police check points along the way, checking for speeding).

You will have to decide if you want to go to Kasbah Telouet, if you do then I would advise you to plan to spend the night in Ouarzazate, if not try to get to Tenihir (Todra Gorge). I have previously stayed at Hotel Anissa in Tenihir (it is a B+B just before the Todra Gorge), this place is family run and very friendly (under £20 for a double room). I would highly recommend it.

Make sure you plan around 1-2 hours at Ait Ben Haddou, it is a really nice place to see and you get a lovely view from the top of it.

Make sure you book your hotel in Merzouga before you leave the UK, when you get on the road near to Merzouga there are literally hundreds of signs (off the main road) for hotels and you won't know which ones are good when you are there. Also make sure you have good directions to find the hotel you have chosen.

The camel ride to the Bivouac can be quite hard at times (it lasts for over 1 hour), some hotels will give you the option to be taken to the bivouac by 4x4 (I would prefer the camel ride but not if my children were with me), take the 4x4 option if your not fussed on the camel ride.

The drive from Merzouga to Fes is also a long one, we did it in about 9 hours (with a few short stops), the road is a single carraigeway and there are some mountain roads on the way. The hotel we stayed in Fes was cheap and I would not recommend it to you.

Fes back to Marrakech is mostly motorway (there was a toll to be paid), if you have the time then take a detour Casablanca to see the King Hasan II Mosque, it is very nice there (if you are in Casablanca between 4-7pm then you will get caught in the rush hour traffic which we did, it was comparable to London at rush hour time, try your best to avoid these times).

If you are going to be driving yourself around Morocco then get a detailed road map of Morocco, it will really help you on your travels.

Edited: 10:17 am, October 24, 2010
COLOMBIA
posts: 4
reviews: 342
10. Re: Info about Desert Trips from Marrakech

Hi

I just came baack from this same trip and in my opinion, even if the roads are marvelous, I suggest you have a driver with a good car for the long trip. I also would add that you stop in some of the small sights and towns on the way to the Sahara. Everything is

so lovely and different.

The Sahara trek is worth the experience but do go with an open mind ready for anything. Do take a flashlight and jacket. It got

quite chilly that night.

Hope this helps

kitty