Field Report: 3 day desert tour from Marrakech to Merzouga

This three-day desert tour takes you from Marrakech to Erg Chebbi and back. On the way to the Sahara, you will be able to enjoy the numerous sights of South Morocco and experience the unforgettable highlight of the trip: spending a night in the desert.

A trip to the Sahara is definitely worth to putting on your list for an amazing vacation in Morocco. The breathtaking motifs of the postcards sold in Marrakech will suddenly become reality: an endless ocean of sand, a clear horizon, and, if you’re lucky, a gigantic starry sky. The absolute highlight of the three-day “Desert Safari from Marrakech to Merzouga” is the night in the desert camp. The tour described here is offered by a Moroccan travel agency via Getyourguide and is one of the most frequently booked desert tours with top reviews.

Desert tour from Marrakech to Merzouga

Round trip with overnight stay in the Sahara desert

The tour begins in Marrakech. There is room for a maximum of 17 participants in the air-conditioned minibus. More than 1300 kilometers will be covered in the next three days, but that sounds more stressful than it actually is. The view from the bus window is phenomenal and the landscape breathtaking. Regular stops will make the photographers happy, as well as those who need to use the rest room. The longer stops include more detailed sightseeing. And there is plenty to see, as the journey to the Sahara and back takes you to several important sights, such as the UNESCO World Heritage Site Ait Benhaddou or the Todra Gorge. As mentioned above, the number of participants per tour is limited to 17. This makes the trip very enjoyable as you don’t travel anonymously but get in touch with your fellow travelers easily.

Desert safari from Marrakech to Merzouga
Duration 3 days
Highlights Ait Benhaddou, Dadès Valley, Rosental, Todra Gorge, Erg Chebbi, Draâ Valley
Special Instructions Backpack for night in the desert camp, sleeping bag
Rating
Costs from 110 USD per person
Booking Getyourguide

The desert tour itinerary
Sahara desert tour itineraryDay 1: Get over the High Atlas and take the “Street of the Kasbahs”!

The first day of the trip passes by quickly with a drive over the High Atlas and a stop in Ait Benhaddou, Ouarzazate and, alternatively, a visit to the Kasbah Taourirt or the Cinematical Museum which deals with the nearby film studios. Next, the route follows the “Street of the Kasbahs” and crosses the Valley of the Roses. You stay overnight in an atmospheric middle class hotel in Boumalne Dades.

Ait Benhaddou Morocco

Getting over the High Atlas on the way to the Sahara

Kasbah Taourirt in Ouarzazate on the way to the desert

Day 2: Feel the Sahara!

The second day starts with a trip through the Dades Valley to Tinghir. There you will visit an oasis garden and will be guided through the Kasbah. Afterwards the trip continues to the Todra Gorge, where you have lunch after a walk. Next, the route leads through the Tafilalet to Merzouga.

  • Tinghir, guided tour of the oasis
  • Guided tour of the Kasbah
  • Todra Gorge, lunch
  • Drive through the Tafilalet
  • Merzouga
  • Dromedary ride to Erg Chebbi in the sunset
  • Overnight stay in desert camp

Farmer in the Dades valley on Morocco

The Dades valley between High Atlas and Sahara
Todra Gorge Morocco

In the afternoon of the second day, the highlight of the journey is approaching: spending the night in the desert camp. As the last part of you journey to the dunes is on the back of dromedaries you will have to reduce your baggage to a minimum of absolute necessities in the last hotel outside the desert and store the rest there. Once you’ve mounted the dromedaries you will walk like a caravan for about an hour and a half through the sand dunes and there will be a stopover just in time for the sunset. At dusk you reach the highest dune of Erg Chebbi.

The sand dunes of Erg Chebbi

The sand dune, about 150 meters high, is an impressive backdrop. At its foot is the desert camp where you will spend the night. A fire is already lit. After the private tents are distributed, there are delicious Tagines, music and a jolly mood. Those who prefer quiet can stroll to the sand dune and enjoy the vastness. In case of a star-shaped night and full moon, a nightly panorama opens up, which almost looks like a glacier landscape and will remain unforgettable.

a night in the desert

Day 3: Explore the Draâ Valley!

The way back starts early the next morning. On the dromedaries you ride into the sunrise to Merzouga. There will be breakfast after arriving at the hotel. After packing, the journey back begins through the Draâ valley. After a lunch break in Ouarzazate, you continue over the High Atlas back to Marrakech.

  • Return to Merzouga into the sunrise
  • Breakfast at the hotel on the edge of the dunes
  • Draâ Valley
  • Ouarzazate, lunch
  • Marrakech

Sahara Tour Merzouga

The Anti Atlas Mountains in Morocco

Desert tour from Marrakech to Merzouga: process and organization

This tour was superbly organized. With a confident tour guide and punctual and reliable procedures. Even unexpectedly occurring situations like a broken tire were easily dealt with and without affecting the schedule. The guide spoke English and French, among other languages, and patiently explained the backgrounds of Moroccan culture. He was very friendly and paid attention to the individual needs of all participants.

Broken tire on a desert tour in Morocco

A broken tire could neither affect the schedule nor the confident tour leader

To make this tour work, a rather tight schedule is necessary. This did not always leave much time for extensive explorations of sights. But despite the time pressure, the driver drove always safely, also under very bad road conditions.

There were no hidden costs or provisioned guides in souvenir shops. The tour guide was very transparent about potential additional costs and made it clear that they are voluntary. This included e.g. a local guide who led you through Ait Benhaddou if needed. We had no need and that was ok for everyone involved. All other guides are included in the travel price (119 $ per person), as well as transportation, accommodation, breakfast and dinner.

The practical side

Unfortunately, it is not very well communicated in advance what kind of equipment you should bring on this tour. For example, a second piece of luggage that can be worn on the back and where you can store camera, snacks, water, sunscreen, etc. during the day. This backpack will be important for when you are out in the desert, because at the end of the second day, you will change from minibus to dromedary. Everyone carries their bare necessities, including drinking water, on their backs. The rest of the luggage meanwhile remains in the bus.

Dromedaries will carry your luggage on the desert tour

Unlike other luggage, a sleeping bag can easily be attached to the saddle of the dromedary

A sleeping bag is also recommended. The city where you spend the first night, Boumalne Dadès, is at an altitude of nearly 1600 meters. In winter, night temperatures fall below zero degrees. Also, the overnight stay in the desert can be cold depending on the season. The thick camel wool blanket in the private tent might not be warm enough for everyone, so you should take a sleeping bag and warm clothes with you. Those who take the tour between autumn and spring will be happy to have brought long underwear.

Conclusion: Cheap desert tour to make your vacation perfect

The night at the Erg Chebbi is a highlight for every stay in Morocco and the long journey is worth every kilometer. No wonder this desert tour has such good ratings. In addition to the breathtaking impressions, especially the confident tour guides have made this trip a great experience. In retrospect, this tour was the highlight of our vacation and I can definitely recommend it.

Desert tour with dromaderies in the Sahara

Financially, the desert tour is unbeatable as well: for a three-day excursion with guides, dromedary walk, overnight stays and half-board, 119 US Dollars is an incredibly low price, especially considering how many people are involved in organizing this tour. The desert tour is offered all year round. As it can be very hot in the summer in South Morocco, you should think twice about whether you want to do this tour in July or August. Also, because of the long distances I would not recommend taking young children.

Booking

The desert tour from Marrakech to Merzouga can be booked directly via Getyourguide. When booking, you can already specify the hotel’s address for pick-up in Marrakech. After the confirmation and a message, the travel agency notifies you at the latest the day before the start of the tour to tell you when the trip begins and how you will be picked up.

Desert safari from Marrakech to Merzouga
Duration 3 days
Highlights Ait Benhaddou, Dadès Valley, Rosental, Todra Gorge, Erg Chebbi, Draâ Valley
Special Instructions Backpack for night in the desert camp, sleeping bag
Rating
Costs from 110 USD per person
Booking Getyourguide

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