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Info about Desert Trips from Marrakech

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East Gwillimbury...
Level Contributor
2,232 posts
74 reviews
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,

Marrakech, Morocco
Destination Expert
for Morocco
Level Contributor
4,153 posts
83 reviews
121. Re: Info about Desert Trips from Marrakech

Yes you can get to the desert from Marrakech by bus or grand taxi - do a search on 'Marrakech to Merzouga' to find more details. There are various options for a stopover on the way to break up the journey - otherwise it is a 12hr+ journey.

Level Contributor
2 posts
7 reviews
122. Re: Info about Desert Trips from Marrakech

Hi! Maybe pick up a tour in Marrakesh when you arrive from a local tour office!

I was worried about not finding something because I had limited time so I booked online but the other guys on the same tour as me had just picked it up the day before and it was much cheaper there. Something ridiculous like $80AUD for 3days and 2 nights Marrakesh --> Desert --> Marrakesh which also stops at places like ourzazate, merzouga, todra gorge, dades valley. Apparently all the desert tours are very similar - 1 night in dades valley, one night in the desert camp. There is not much 'guiding' so you're really paying for the ride, food and accomm.

123. Re: Info about Desert Trips from Marrakech

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Palma de Mallorca...
1 post
124. Re: Info about Desert Trips from Marrakech

Hello! Im planning a trip to Morocco with my boyfriend in october. We would like to rent a car in Marrakech and drive to Mergouza and then onto Erg Chebbi to spend a night in the desert and on our way back head towards the coast, probably Agadir. Would anyone be able to suggest an itinerary from Marrakech to Mergouza and from there to Agadir, and most interesting places to stop overnight, we were thinking about 6-7 days. Thanks!

Level Contributor
3 posts
12 reviews
125. Re: Info about Desert Trips from Marrakech


We have done this in April 2012 1st day from Marrakech to Tinerir on the way you can see Ait Ben Haddou.

2th day from Tinerir to Erg Chebbi ( Merzouga) on the way you see La Vallée des dades and Todra.

3th day you can see the desert by 4X4 and in the evening by camel into the desert and sleep in a tented camp. 4th day eventually a day of rest or the trip from Merzouga to the Vallée du Draa. 5th day the trip to Agadir. We didn't drive to Agadir but to Essaouira ( and stayed 2 days in Marrakech first) which is more beautifull. From Marrakech to Essaouira is only a 2,5 hours of driving. i would go for at least 8 days to do this trip otherwise you have to hurry and nature is so beautifull that you have to stop very often to take pictures or just enjoy the views. Good luck with the planning !

Adelaide South...
1 post
126. Re: Info about Desert Trips from Marrakech

Oh my goodness, just read review.

You have absolutely helped me put together some worrying detail regarding time limits and organization regarding desert experience.

Shall also take on board, advice regarding driver.

Great review. I just love tripadvisor for this very reason.



Rosario, Argentina
Level Contributor
1 post
6 reviews
127. Re: Info about Desert Trips from Marrakech

A mitad de septiembre hicimos con mi hija un viaje de una semana en Marruecos con Azul Aventuras. Nuestro itinerario empezó en Marrakesh y despues de cruzar el Atlas y pasar 4 dias en la zona del desierto volvimos a cruzar las montañas para recorrer Fes. Fue una experiencia inolvidable!!!, se hace en un vehículo 4x4 y en nuestro caso eramos nosotras dos y Moha nuestro guía y chofer. Todo es muy personalizado y Moha logró trasmitirnos en muy poco tiempo su amor al desierto y mucho de las características de los marroquies, gente muy amable y muy cálida. Volveríamos a hacerlo sin dudas y agregaríamos un par de noches en el desierto!!!

Silvia y Celeste

Rome, Italy
Level Contributor
1 post
12 reviews
128. Re: Info about Desert Trips from Marrakech

Morocco Expert Tours is a terrific tour company.

We were six American friends (20s and 30s) visiting Morocco for the first time. We were mostly staying in Marrakech but wanted to get out of town and see some of the countryside and desert. We found Morocco Expert Tours through its excellent, and well-deserved, reviews on TripAdvisor.

Youssef, the owner, was very helpful from the beginning with all of our questions. We were picked up and everything couldn't have been smoother. Hamid, our driver, took us everywhere. He let us talk and laugh amongst ourselves, but also was able to answer any question that we had about the history or culture of the places we saw. He also helped me negotiate a good price for some dates being sold on the road.

We rode camels to our campsite, one of the most fun experiences any of us had had. Then had a great meal in the Berber camp before falling asleep in tents. The tents, by the way, had actual small single beds - no sleeping on the ground! Much nicer than expected. The dinner and breakfast were lovely, too. The next day was like the last, with another camel ride and SUV ride around the mountains. We even saw a few rainbows.

It was absolutely worth the money. Don't be fooled by cheaper excursions you find that look identical. This was PRIVATE. The others are on a bus filled with strangers. The experience is really night and day. You can stop whenever you want, take as long as you want at each place, and be as silly as you want with your family and friends. And you feel like you make friends with your guide, asking him whatever you want, asking him to take pictures for you, etc. You won't get that with the cheap bus tours.

129. Re: Info about Desert Trips from Marrakech

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