A night in a camp in the Sahara desert and a road trip from Marrakech to Sahara desert (and back) was the main highlight of my Morocco travel itinerary. I traveled from Marrakech to Sahara desert with a group tour and in this blog, I am going to jot down all the important things that you need to know about this road trip.
At least at the time of writing this article, there is no bus, train or any other public transport service available to the Sahara desert from any major tourist destination in Morocco. So, there are basically three options left to you and all of them passes through the same route but differs in how much time you spend at different places.
Organised Group Tour:
This is probably the cheapest option. There are several tour organizers which pretty much offer the same itinerary, same places to visit, same camping arrangement and so on. Therefore, when you hunt for an organized tour for this trip, make sure to do proper research and get the best price. After going through several websites and contacting different organizers, I found a hidden-gem (seriously, it never showed up in Google results). My organized tour cost me 89€ per person and it was absolutely fine. I will write about it at the end (no affiliation at all !!!).
Private Four Wheel Drive Tour:
If you have already started a little bit research about this trip then, you must have already seen several private 4×4 wheel drive options for it. I contacted so many of them and found that the price varies between 200€-500€ per person. If you are not on tight budget then, I would recommend to do it this way. With this option, you get the freedom to stay at some places a little longer and believe me, on this road, you would want to stay longer at several places.
This is already pretty explaining, just take a rental car and do the whole expedition yourself. The roads in Morocco are good but on this stretch, there are so many hairpins turns and one needs to be really experienced (see the picture of Atlas mountains below).
Things to See along the way
The Marrakech to Sahara desert trip is not just about going to the Sahara desert and spending a night there. The whole route from Marrakech to the Sahara desert is amazing and you get to see a lot.
The most interesting thing during this whole journey is to see the changing landscapes. When you start your journey, you would first encounter the high Atlas mountains. While your bus passes through several hairpin curves, you would get to see the beautiful Atlas mountains with some small green patches.
Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou:
A UNESCO world heritage site and a location where several Hollywood blockbusters have been shot (yes!!! including Game of Thrones), this is the second big highlight of this trip. If you are doing a group tour then, you would get a guided tour in the Ait Ben Haddou Kasbah.
Dadès Gorges (Todgha Gorge):
While going towards Tighir, you deviate to a small road along the river to Todgha Gorge. These are a series of breathtaking limestone river canyons. These are naturally carved by water streams of Dades river.
Finally the Sahara Desert
After the tiring journey of nearly two days with breathtaking views, we finally reached the much-awaited destination, the Sahara desert !!! The amazing part of the trip is that you get to see the changing landscapes and you witness how the high mountains converge to the world’s largest desert. It seems that as if somebody has dumped so much sand in the otherwise flatlands. You see a boundary between sand dunes and flat land…amazing !!!
Merzouga Desert Camp Experience:
After dumping our stuff at the base camp in Merzouga desert (basically Sahara desert), we started our camel ride towards the desert camp. The trip was planned in such a way that we got a chance to witness Sunset in the world’s largest desert.
It was around 1.5 hours camel ride to reach our desert camp. The tour operators organized the camp pretty well. The food was served in the camp itself and some cultural performances by locals were also organized. It was a thrilling experience and I decided to go out of the camp and do a little wandering. There was absolute silence, which felt like someone has muted all the sounds in the world (awesome feeling). The sky in the desert is so clear and twinkling bright stars seem so close that you feel like touching them while standing on a sand dune.
Next day we woke up early and started the camel ride towards the base camp.
- Motion Sickness Medicine: The way through the Atlas mountains have so many sharp curves and its natural to feel dizzy. Even if you don’t have a problem with such roads, keep some tablets for co-passengers because somebody gonna feel vomit for sure !!!
- Clothing: Even if you travel during summer time, it will be cold during the night in the desert. So, keep some warm clothes with you. It would better to wear clothes in layers.
- Proper Shoes: Its needless to say that its desert and its home to the reptiles (yes, snakes) so, wear proper shoes.
My tour Operator:
There are so many tour operators for this Marrakech to Sahara desert road trip and all of them offer pretty much the same activities. I booked my tour with Marrakech desert tour, which I found the cheap and best option. I do not have any affiliations with them so, do your proper research before booking.
Note: The video has English subtitles