One of the most awaited moment of our visit to Morocco was to our tour from Marrakech to the Merzouga Desert. In this tour we crossed the chains of the Atlas and spent a night in the sahara desert near Merzouga, more precisely between the dunes of Erg Chebbi (but most people refer to it as the Merzouga Desert). We had already seen several deserts before, and although the Merzouga Desert is not one of the largest ones we have ever seen, but it has a magical ambience with its high dunes, golden color at sunrise or sunset and the sky full of stars at night. Here we tell you all the details of our 3-day desert tour from Marrakech to Fez.
- 1 3-day Morocco Desert Tour – Day 1: Marrakech – Dades Gorges
- 2 3-day Morocco Desert Tour – Day 2: Dades Gorges – Merzouga Desert
- 3 3-day Morocco Desert Tour – Day 3: Merzouga Desert – Fes
- 4 When to do a tour to the Merzouga Desert
- 5 How to choose your Morocco desert tour
- 6 Useful tools to organize your trip
3-day Morocco Desert Tour – Day 1: Marrakech – Dades Gorges
After spending a few days visiting the highlights of Marrakech, the next day early in the morning our driver/guide Youssef came to pick us up in our riad, and we embarked from Marrakech on our 3-day tour to the Merzouga Desert. In the jeep it was just us with Youssef, and from the first moment we had a really great time with him. In the first part of the trip we crossed the chain of the Atlas and we were amazed by the changes in the color of the mountains. We would not have imagined to see so many different colors, and we couldn’t stop taking pictures. In this area we saw many berber villages, since berbers are the main inhabitants of this area in Morocco.
We crossed through the Tizi N’Tichka Pass, which was the highest point of our trip. The views from above with the curvy roads were really vertiginous.
Around lunchtime, we arrived at one of the most spectacular stop of our Morocco desert tour, the magnificent Ait Ben Haddou, an old kasbah (fortified town). Ait Ben Haddou was declared UNESCO World Heritage site, and it served as shooting location for dozens of world famous movies and series (Lawrence of Arabia, Gladiator or Game of Thrones amongst many others). A few families still live in this kasbah, and although it’s a very touristic place, it’s worth dedicating some time to it.
After lunch we continued our tour towards the Merzouga Desert, and we drove on a road where we didn’t meet too many tourists. The route is referred to as the route of 1000 kasbahs, and here we saw tenth of beautiful, but mostly abandoned kasbahs, all built of adobe, memories of a distant past. After a while we arrived at an impressive kasbah, the Kasbah Amridil, which is a marvelous fortification from the 17th century, and you can recognize it on the Moroccan 50 Dirham bill.
We crossed the Palmeral Grove in Skoura, which is like an oasis with lots of palm trees and as last stop, we took pictures of the beautiful Rose Valley, which is famous for the flower festival they held there every May.
We finished the first day of our 3-day Morocco Desert trip in the Dades Gorges, where we stayed in Tiwafen Dades, a simple but decent hotel with beautiful views.
3-day Morocco Desert Tour – Day 2: Dades Gorges – Merzouga Desert
We continued our tour to the Merzouga Desert in the morning and we went deep into the Dades Gorges, where we stopped in several viewpoints to contemplate the fascinating landscape with peculiar rock formations. One of the formations which looks especially spectacular is known as “monkey fingers“, and it reminded us the rock formations of the Montserrat Mountain in Catalonia.
We left the Dades Valley and arrived again in a desert area, where we left the main road followed by most of the cars and minivans, and we crossed the desert on a dirt road. There was nothing of special interest here, but we came across a nomad berber who was walking in the desert with his two dromedaries. He looked at us with curiosity without seeming to be bothered to much, it was one of the magical moments of our desert trip in Morocco.
Our road was going upwards again, and soon we arrived at another fantastic view point. We looked down on the old city of Tinghir, where we could identify the neighborhood where originally the Jewish community lived, but their houses were abandoned a very long time ago.
Our next stop was one of the main sights of our 3-day desert tour, the Todgha Gorges, where we felt really small between those huge rock walls on both sides of the Todgha River. In this place unfortunately many of the tourist vehicles accumulated in a relatively small place. In addition as it was weekend, many local people were having a picnic on the riverbank, therefore it was harder to appreciate the beauty of the nature. Actually we quickly continued our journey to arrive as early as possible in the Merzouga Desert.
After lunch, we only made a few very brief stops, since we were already really anxious to get to see the sand dunes of the Merzouga Desert. As we got closer and closer, we felt more and more impatient to get to touch the dunes of Erg Chebbi with our own hands.
When we arrived in Merzouga, we got to know another two members of the small agency we did our Moroccan desert tour with. It’s a small family agency of 3 brothers, where usually Youssef is the driver, Mustafa takes care of the contacts and Aziz is the one, who took us later to the desert.
Well before sunset finally arrived the long-awaited moment of our desert trip on which we embarked in Marrakech 2 days before. We climbed up our dromedaries that were to take us to the Merzouga Desert. At the beginning it was hard to feel comfortable on top of these likeable animals, but soon we got used to them and enjoyed our ride towards the desert camp. We felt really happy surrounded by those huge sand dunes and we loved watching how our shadows advanced in the sand.
We left our dromedaries in a place and at the time of sunset we climbed up to one of the tallest sand dunes of Erg Chebbi. Although the sun hid behind the clouds, we had a wonderful time enjoying the spectacular colors, the silence and infinite peace. Gábor even dressed up as berber using the clothes of our guide, you can’t say he didn’t look like a real berber.
After sunset we arrived at the final destination of our desert trip, a campsite in the middle of a desert. Although our camping was not luxury category, the tents were really comfortable with a large bed, decent toilet and shower. When it became completely the dark, candles were lit to show the way between the sleeping tents and the main tent where dinner was served. For dinner we had our best tajine of not only our desert tour, but of our whole visit to Morocco. Moreover, we were really lucky since high season already finished, and we were just a small group of people in the campsite, so we were able to fully enjoy the magic of the Merzouga Desert. After dinner we lied down in the sand to gaze at the thousands of stars on the sky. We will never forget those moments!
3-day Morocco Desert Tour – Day 3: Merzouga Desert – Fes
The last day of our desert trip we woke up really early to watch the sunrise. We weren’t very lucky, because the sun hid again behind the clouds, but the intense golden color of the desert was simply unforgettable. We walked among the dunes and Gábor did a couple of headstands. There mightn’t be a more spectacular place to practice yoga than this one.
We went back to the campsite and after breakfast we climbed up our dromedaries again and started our way back to Merzouga. We said goodbye to the dunes of Erg Chebbi wishing to come back again once, maybe for some more time to enjoy its special ambience.
In Merzouga we changed “vehicle” again from our dromedary to our 4WD vehicle and we continued our Morocco desert trip towards Fes. This day lots of kilometers were waiting for us and we had less time to make stops, but we still visited a few beautiful places.
We stopped in a viewpoint to look down on the Ziz Valley, an immense valley with thousands of palm trees in it, surrounded by a deep canyon . This zone is very arid and the red color of the rocks dominate the landscape.
A few kilometers later, when we arrived in the Middle-Atlas, the landscape changed again completely, and it felt like being somewhere in the European Alps or the Pyrenees. Green alpine landscape with pine tree forests – we didn’t know about this façade of Morocco. This part of the country actually is quite rich, and the city of Ifrane for instance is known as the “Moroccan Switzerland“. This was our last stop before finally arriving in Fes in the evening.
The 3-day desert trip to the Merzouga Desert was a really fantastic experience. During these 3 days we saw marvellous things, some of them we hadn’t even expected to experience in Morocco. The highlights of the trip were the always changing landscape, the thousands of kasbahs, and of course the cherry on the cake was the night we spent in the desert.
We did this private desert tour with the small agency called Desert Morocco Trips. It’s a small family company operated by 3 brothers and they do their work very well. We were very satisfied with their service, since the previously agreed program was completely respected, the accommodations were good and in addition there were really great vibes between our guide and us.
When to do a tour to the Merzouga Desert
You can visit Morocco during the whole year, and this desert trip can also be carried throughout the year, although there are better times for that. In summer the weather is too hot in the Merzouga desert, and therefore few tourists dare to travel during those months. In winter you will feel really cold at night in the desert, but you only need to put on some more clothes. Nevertheless the route we did includes several mountain passes that can be affected by the snow and are closed sometimes in winter. The best time to do a desert tour in Morocco is in spring or in autumn.
How to choose your Morocco desert tour
Both in Marrakech and in Fes there are many agencies that organize these desert trips. The length of these excursions can be 3, 4 or even more days. In Marrakech you can practically choose between hundreds of agencies that offer more or less the same desert tour.
Being on the road in Morocco is really amazing, you can check out here another alternative for a road trip from Marrakech to Fes.
Desert tour variants
Private desert tours. These are private trips in 4WD vehicles (like the one we did), where you can have your word in your itinerary, when to stop, etc. If you start your trip to the desert in Marrakech, you can return back there or you can finish your tour in Fes. These 4WD vehicles can often take you to alternative routes (to get to special viewpoints), which are not accessible for public minivans. Normally the accommodation offered in these private desert tours is of great quality even if you choose the “economy” option.
Public desert tours. In these trips you travel with a bigger group of people in a minivan or a bus. You follow a previously defined itinerary without having a say in it. The desert trips that leave from Marrakech always return there, which makes the last day quite boring. The accommodation and the food is usually quite basic in these excursions.
Do you need more information. Here are some great tips for your travel to Morocco.
Useful tools to organize your trip
– ZZZ… BOOK YOUR HOTEL IN MOROCCO – find the best hotel for you.
– GET 25€ CREDIT WITH AIRBNB – find your perfect host.
– FLYYY… Find the CHEAPEST FLIGHT TO MOROCCO.
– BRUM BRUM… RENT A CHEAP CAR FOR YOUR TRIP AROUND MOROCCO – find the best car for you.
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