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The Guide to
Best Morocco Travel 2023
Morocco desert tours have been growing more popular in the last years. It has become many travelers’ dream. If you are planning best Morocco travel here is the information to consider while planning your adventures and journey. This guide covers topics that most travelers ask about. Hopefully, it helps you to plan Morocco desert tour that is just perfect for you.
Where is the desert located in Morocco?
Sahara Desert is running roughly north-south along Morocco’s eastern border with neighboring Algeria. This is the world’s largest hot desert. In fact, the Sahara covers an area roughly the size of the entire United States. The location of the desert is remote and it can take a long hours to get there.
Is there desert in Marrakech?
Marrakech is often described as desert city however; its climate is found much closer to Mediterranean climates. It does receive less rainfall as typical Mediterranean area but, it’s more wet than desert climate. Marrakech is rather considered the main door or gateway to the Sahara Desert. Red City receives millions of visitors each year to start their long desert journey towards Zagora or Merzouga desert region.
Interestingly, there is Agafay desert which is located only 40 minutes away from Marrakech. However, it is often referred to stone desert, a rough, dry, moon-like landscape which offers beautiful landscape and can be linked to desert like environment. Not to disappoint you, Agafay desert does not have big, rolling and golden sand dunes that you may imagine; it’s considered desert environment with rockier surface. Agafay is become favorite destination for weekenders from Marrakech because its closeness to the city . This destination makes still a great Morocco desert tour choice, when time is the concern and you can’t travel to less accessible Sahara Desert. Agafay Desert is still beautiful environment to experience minimalistic vistas, breath taking sunsets along with the dinner in Bedouin camp. Perhaps enjoy camel ride while witnessing High Atlas Mountain vistas in horizon.
How far is the real desert from Marrakech?
The main sand dunes in Sahara Desert are the Erg Chebbi and Erg Chigaga dunes. Each destination offers a wonderful experience while Erg Chebbi dunes are much more accessible. This area offers modern accommodations right on the foot of the sand dunes in desert town of Merzouga. It is touristic town that has many restaurants and shops as well.
The Erg Chigaga dunes are located more off the beaten path therefore, offer travelers a bigger adventure. The dunes are located about 60 km from nearest town M’hamid and are accessible only by 4×4 ride through rocky and bumpy road. Travel time is about 2 hours by car and ½ day camel ride through rocky desert until you reach to the great dunes. Erg Chigaga is much harder to access due its remote location however, it adds more charm to your adventure.
From Marrakech to Merzouga is roughly 370 mi (600 km). This is around 10-hour drive one way, that depends on your stops and driving ability. From Marrakech to Zagora, Erg Chigaga dunes is approximately 370 mi (360 km). These drives take you over mountainous and winding roads, highways, rural and village roads. Just keep in mind along your drive you may want to slow down because there are many things to see and experience before you reach to desert. You will encounter many scenic landscapes, colorful Berber villages and interesting cultural experiences which you may want to discover further.
How to get to Sahara desert?
There are a couple of different ways to visit Sahara Desert. It all comes down to personal preferences and your travel style. If you are seasoned traveler and speak some Arabic or French it’s possible to travel independently. You could rent a car through rental company and plan 2 days drive to desert. We recommend to spend a night in Atlas Mountains because of the long drive.
Second option is to take a route with public transportation by bus. Downside of this option is, the long drive and therefore, journey could be exhausting. Also, it’s hard to move around without the car once you get to the desert.
Third option would be travelling with the tour company which is good idea to maximize your time. This option is convenient and you will have added bonus which is community connection. This choice is also safer and more reliable for female travelers.
With the private tour, you will be able to get deeper cultural experience. You will have change to interact with the local people and experience countries hidden points. Travelling with knowledgeable guides makes your desert trip easy and convenient. If you decide this is the way you like to take your Morocco desert tours, please contact us we are here to help and guarantee you the Morocco desert tours you wish for. We offer many different tours to choose from and please keep in mind all tours are customizable according to your wishes.
Where to start and end the desert trip?
As said above Marrakech is the main door to Sahara Desert therefore, its good idea to start your journey from the red city. There are wide variety of public and private transportation options available to choose from for your desert adventure. Furthermore, many tour companies are based in Marrakech due to its tourism aspects. Majority tours end in Fes which is another big touristic city with a lot to offer. Its good idea to start your trip from Marrakech to visit desert and end the tour in Fes or wise versa. You can also start the tour from Fes if you are in the northern parts of the country and end it in Marrakech. Turning this route, in either direction you have opportunity to see 2 imperial cities Marrakech and Fes, High and Mid Atlas Mountains, Sahara Desert, palm groves and cedar forest.
What is the best time to visit Sahara desert?
The best time to visit the Sahara Desert is in spring (March-May) and fall (October- November). These times of the year country has nice mild temperatures. Winters in Sahara can get cold and temperature in winter months (December-February) can drop below freezing in night time. However, this time of the year sky is the clearest which offers wonderful background for picture taking. You could wear layers and desert could still be fully enjoyed.
The summer months (June-September) temperature can get hot with highs crossing 120 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius). Turning the summer time visit you could experience sandstorms which makes visibility harder. On the other hand, summer time close to the sun set and early mornings, the weather can be quite pleasing while desert cools down.
What can you do in Sahara desert?
There are a few places in the world that compare to incredible landscape you will see in Sahara Desert. Just slow down, relax and admire uniqueness of rolling dunes because this unique environment is rear place in the world. There is saying once you visit Sahara Desert, you will never be the same anymore.
Here are activities you can enjoy turning your visit:
- The sunrises and sunsets are gorgeous and worth being awake
- Stargazing offers unforgettable experience in Sahara
- Quad or 4×4 jeep adventure in dunes is trilling experience
- A camel trek through dunes offers wonderful and peaceful adventure
- Try Sandboarding
- Bonfire with Berber music fills your soul
- Visit nomadic families and learn about tribes’ way of life
- Listen to Gnawa Music, desert is real home of Gnawa music. Visit village of Khamlia where you can listen these desert grooves.
- Explore the sand dunes, let sand through your fingers, get creative and take some beautiful pics to great memories
- Explore ruins in Sijilmassa, near Rissani. This ruin was once the most important trade post, connecting Morocco across the desert with Egypt, Sudan and Ghana.
- Shop local markets. In Rissani there is the biggest market in the region on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday while Zagora has a vibrant market every Wednesday and Sunday.
How many days to visit desert in Morocco?
Visiting this remote, unique location and spending a night under the stars is often once in a lifetime opportunity. Therefore, its recommended to spend at least 2 nights in desert region to truly experience the amazing environment and way of life in Sahara. With two nights you are able to explore the area, immerse yourself to slow based desert life and at the same time enjoy activities in the area. We recommend staying one night to Bedouin camp in dunes and another night to riad or hotel in desert town.
What to back for Morocco desert tour?
This depends what time of the year you are travelling. As discussed above, summers can get very hot and winter temperatures at night can drop below freezing. So, you should back accordingly. You should bring light jacket for cooler evenings, comfortable shoes sneakers or sandals to walk on sand, and scarf to protect yourself from sand and sun. There are many shops and markets on road and Sahara which sell huge variety of beautiful scarfs. You may like to purchase one, they are quite affordably priced. It makes also nice souvenir to take home.
It is worth of mentioning that Morocco is conservative country and especially in rural areas therefore, female travelers should dress modestly. Other recommended items to bring with you are: sunscreen, sunglasses, cash and battery back for your phone to have enough charge to take beautiful desert pics.