How to Choose a Sahara Desert Tour in Morocco

Camping, Camels and Sand Dunes in the Moroccan Sahara

As my taxi pulled into Cairo International Airport in advance of my flight to Casablanca, Morocco, the driver informed me of one destination I’d missed during the marathon two weeks I spent in his country. “Camping in the Western desert near the Libyan border” he said, “is something you must do the next time you’re in Egypt.”

Never one to wait for a “next time” — or to count on it, for that matter — I began researching trek’s into the Moroccan Sahara almost immediately after landing.

Let Me Plan Your Trip to Morocco

Although the dune-y portion of the Sahara desert within Morocco is small by African standards, a huge variety of tour options exist. Decide on how many days you want to spend in the Moroccan Sahara, what you want to do there and where you want to sleep before you commit to a tour to ensure your expectations match up with what you find among the dunes.

How Many Days?


When you begin investigating Sahara desert tour options in Morocco, you’ll notice headings for all tours offered specify the number of days you spend on the tour. When I visited in October 2011, tours were available for durations as short as one day and up to four days, although fine print always specifies that longer stays are available.

Morocco is a huge place: Most of the tours depart from Marrakech, located near its eastern seaboard, while the Sahara occupies the eastern frontier of the country. As a result, you have to understand that even getting to the desert takes a pretty significant amount of time, so if you choose a one- or two-day tour, I don’t know how much of the actual desert you’re going to see.


As a general rule, I would say you should book as long an itinerary as you can afford — the longer your tour, the further into the Sahara you can get. I embarked on a three-day, two-night tour at the advisement of my hostel’s owner. Shorter tours, she warned, don’t permit you access to the dunes of the Sahara. You know, the portion of the desert that actually looks like desert.

Making Sure You See the Dunes

I actually wish I’d booked a four-day, three-night instead. The first day was comprised of a long drive over the beautiful Atlas mountains and ended with us barely entering into the “rocky” portion of the Sahara, spending the day exploring the Kasbah of Ouarzazate, where several of the movies in the “Mummy” series were filmed. We slept in a hotel near the Dades Gorge in the Draa Valley, admittedly one of the coolest places I’ve ever been.


It wasn’t until just before sunset the second day that we arrived in the town of Merzouga, the gateway to the dunes of the Moroccan Sahara near the Algerian border. We hopped promptly onto camels and traveled a few kilometers into the desert, where we set up camp — as in tents, fires and sleeping bags, oh my! That night, the adventurous among my group (present company included) smoked hashish with our Berber guides and climbed to the top of a 300-meter sand dune, which provided incredible views of the entire desert.

Unfortunately, morning came quickly: By 6, we were on our dromedaries and en route back to Merzouga, where the “third day” of the tour was about to begin. Again, I will emphasize that you should book as long a tour as possible, particularly if being among the dunes and camping are your highest priorities in seeing the Sahara. The longer your tour, the less of it (percentage-wise) you spend in a motor vehicle.

Onward Destinations from Merzouga


The last day of whatever tour duration you select is spent completely in transit — either back to Marrakech, the starting point of most tours, or onto other places in Morocco, namely the city of Fez in the country’s central valley.

Do be aware that if you choose not to continue back to Marrakech, you are responsible both for facilitating and paying your way onward. Two of the German girls in my tour group wanted to continue on to Fez as well, so I wasn’t alone in my struggle — and I’m going to be honest, it was kind of a struggle.


From Zagoura, you need to take a “petit” taxi to the town of Er-Rachidia. The cost of this taxi is negligible if you have several people, but be warned: You will share this cab with five other passengers, in spite of its (rightfully) being labeled as “small.”

Several onward options exist, including a government-owned CTM bus directly to Fez. After a few days in the desert, however, I have a feeling you’ll be like me and wanting a bit more luxurious transport. If you have some extra dirhams to spare, a car to Fez can be yours for 720 DH, or about $86. That sounds like a lot — and it is — but if you have three or more people, the extra cost is well worth the comfort and freedom.

Another advantage of taking a private taxi to Fez is that you can make your driver stop along the way so that you can enjoy the stunning views you get descending out of the Atlas mountains into Morocco’s vast central valley.

Where and How to Book — And How Much

I’ve mentioned several times in this article that I departed from Marrakech and accepted advice on which tour to take from a hostel owner there. If you haven’t figured it out by now, Marrakech is the place to book.

I’d also recommend you follow my advice and book directly through your hostel. Although you will certainly be placed on a third-party tour with people from other hostels and hotels in the city, booking through your hostel ensures you get a fair price and gives you an outlet for recourse in the event that something goes wrong with your tour — it shouldn’t, but I’m just saying.

As far as price, I paid 950 DH for my three-day, two-night trek — the worthless (inasmuch as I detailed above) one- and two-day treks are slightly less, the longer ones slightly more. Unless you are spending a huge amount of time in the desert, I wouldn’t pay more than 1,200 DH.

So what does the price include? All your transportation and lodging — including a camel ride in the Sahara and a camp there — as well as breakfast and dinner. That means you’re left to pay for lunch, incidentals and drugs out of pocket.

About The Author

is the author of 550 posts on Leave Your Daily Hell. Robert founded Leave Your Daily Hell in 2010 so that other travelers would have an entertaining, reliable source of information, advice and inspiration at their fingertips. Want to travel more often? Subscribe to email updates today!


  informs, inspires, entertains and empowers travelers like you. My name is Robert and I'm happy you're here!


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  • Robert Schrader

    Hi Mary:

    Although it is theoretically possible to book your tour from Ouazarate, waiting to do so will limit your options and, in a worst-case scenario, leave you at the merch of the touts there. My advice would be to shop around for tours while in Marrakech and bargain with the tour company to accommodate you on a flexible, customized basis. This will not only allow you for greater leverage when it comes to price and itinerary, but in the event that anything is not to your liking, you will have some recourse.

  • Emma Joyston-Bechal

    Hi Robert we have just opened a comfortable eco camp beach and then from October Sahara. It was started for our yoga and healing retreats but is also open to any travellers. Would love you to visit Emma

  • Robert Schrader

    Cool :-)

  • Allison Beth

    Hi Robert,
    Do you know anything about the Sahara excursion (in particular 1 night/2 day trip) organized by the Riad Layla Rouge Hostel? I haven’t found too many reviews on their excursions but I’m staying there and it seems convenient. Its between that and a more expensive tour by a very well reviewed “desert majesty”, Any suggestions or feedback on which is better for a solo traveller (female) would be appreciated. Thanks!

  • Robert Schrader

    Hi Allison:

    I think as long as you are going on a group tour, your gender or solo traveler status will not be an issue. As far as the hostel tour, even if you have no reviews to go by, the good news is that you always have recourse (i.e. complaining to the hostel) if it’s terrible.

  • Halley Souza

    Hi Robert,

    I live in Portugal and I’m planning to go to Morocco by motorbike. Do you have any idea if wild camping is allowed all across Morocco ? Thanks

  • Robert Schrader

    Halley: I am reasonably certain that it is allowed, but I am not sure if it’s always a good idea, i.e. in terms of wildlife and climate. You might want to speak to local berbers wherever you go to make sure it’s safe.

  • Juliana Izabel Polydoro

    Hi Robert, I’m going to Morroco in july with my sister, we are going to Marrakesh, I just booked the flight didn`t book the hotel yet, and I want to spend 3 days two nights on the desert, so should I book the hotel just for the nights I will stay in Marrakesh? I`m just afraid to do this then I can`t get any tour to the desert….

  • Robert Schrader

    Juliana, you will definitely be able to find some tour in the desert!

  • Faidy Rusinque

    Hi Robert,
    I’m also going to Marrakesh in July with my brother, I just booked my flight but I don’t have a hotel nor I have a tour. Do you have any suggestions for a good hotel/hostel that will be in a good location for us to find the best tours?
    Another question, will we be able to find tours to go to the desert in earl July?
    Thank you

  • Robert Schrader

    HI Faida:

    I recommend staying at Hostel Riad Marrakech Rouge, which you can book on HostelWorld. They can also arrange a tour!

  • Nadine

    Hi robert. i am planning on going to marrakesh in february next year. I’d like to book a desert tour in advance so that i wont even have to pay for a hostel or anything. Which tour provider did you decide for? Any tips? Thanks in advance.

  • Robert Schrader

    Hi Nadine:

    Due to the way the tours work, you will need to spend at least one night in Marrakech, so it’s better to wait until you get there to book.

  • mohamed

    Overnight Camel Trek with “Cameltrekking Excursions” is an experience you will never forget and one which we hope will bring something unique to your adventure,Our DESERT TOUR offer traditional music and drumming,excellent cuisine and sleeping in the desert beneath a stunning canopy of stars in our tradicional nomadic camp!

  • chiarnia

    can you tell us how much did you spent for the tour? thanks!

  • chiarnia

    hey Juliana, can you please tell us how much did you spend for the desert tour?
    thank you!

  • Medoti Mohamed

    Insighfull instructions about Desert Tours in Morocco! has many of the advantages recommended in this article for a memorable experience. your interests and experience matter. Time, caring and exploration. you are welcome to Morocco

  • Butterfly

    My husband and I have travelled extensively and always independently but decided to book a desert tour during our honeymoon. we Started our tour Marrakech and Ended it in Marrakech, The things we saw were amazing too. The snow covered High Atlas and Middle Atlas mountains, we visited several Kasbahs such as Kasbah Taourirt Kasbah Amridelt the best being Aït Benhaddou and Oasis, and some impressive valleys like Dades Valley where we spent our first night in a beautiful hotel as well as Todra Valley & Draa Valley.

    The highlight of the trip was a camel trek out into the Sahara, with a berber camel guide to sleep in a berber camp. Riding a camel is a bit of an adventure, but you really need to do it! The camp is very basic & authentic, drum players came to our camp to sing and entertain – and sunrise was awesome.

    We would recommend Marvelous Morocco Tours to anybody thinking of arranging a tour in Morocco. From the initial tentative communications by email to arranging the detail of the tour to the actual tour itself everything has been faultless. All correspondence has been prompt, informative and clear and the physical tour was of a high standard, exceeding our expectations. We often didn’t notice we were on a tour, we just felt like we were trekking independently with some new friends who didn’t mind carrying bags, setting-up camp, cooking, cleaning and having a chat – That was priceless to us. We are sure we will return to Morocco at some point in the future and we will not hesitate to book another tour with MMT

  • Robert Schrader

    Thank you so much for sharing your detailed story – it was very beautiful!

  • exciting trip

    exciting trip
    this article to every one want to discover the magic of moroccan desert us you know there are many desert in morocco for example the desert of erg chebi its realy an ocean of sand it take you to an specefic period of time were the people living in a simple life under tent and using a camels to travel or taking a baggage from one plaes to another f its really a terriffy place where the hotels any way the agence of morocco-sahara-tours are ready to take you in a trip in all part off morocco in imperial city or desert or attlas montain it does not matter you can find more information this web site

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  • Mariana Garvalho

    We took the 4 days desert trip with Morocco Excursions Company from Marrakech to Fes, through the High Atlas Mountains with its spectacular Tichka Pass. and sahara desert, We had several stops on the way to El Kalaa m’gouna for a special night in Kasbah Itran (Kasbah of stars as Mohamed prefers to call it). In the Kasbah, the dinner was great and very traditional followed with Berber music (Ahidous) and drum party performed by our friendly guide and driver. These guys were very hospitable. The breakfast on the terrace the next morning was fantastic with fabulous views. We then made our way to the desert via Boumalne du Dades and Todra gorges. Upon our arrival to Erg Chebbi Merzouga, we were greeted by a welcoming and very helpful staff. The dunes are a 2 minute walk and the views were impressive!
    We had a camel ride at sunset and slept in a Bedouin tent that what we really didn’t want to miss during our visit to this magical country through the Moroccan Sahara desert. It was fabulous fun and made our dream come true. Our trip ended in Fes driving throughout remarkable Ziz Valley, Middle Atlas Mountains and the cedar forests – we were lucky enough to see the monkeys and watch them climbing the trees for a half hour or so.
    We had a wonderful trip and it exceeds our expectations. We saw more than we expected, thanks to our guide and the company team. Our personal guide Youssef was easy to work with and was always very attentive to our needs, we felt looked after and he made our experience hassle free and so much fun.
    We honestly appreciate the wonderful services we receive from M.E Company ( . We would like to express our sincere thanks once again to you and your team, Thank You, Thank You, Thank You … We would have absolutely no hesitation in recommending Morocco Excursions Company to anyone.

  • Merzouga-Excursions

    “” produced a range of quality tours to enable you to select the type of tour youd like. However all of our tours are about you our client so if you have a specific requirement maybe youd prefer to arrive or leave at a different city to the one weve suggested or youd like to visit a particular place of interest, then let us know and we will arrange it for you.

    With “” you can explore and enjoy all that Morocco has to offer, visiting the beautiful Atlantic coast, exploring the historic imperial cities,hiking the high Atlas mountains or camel trekking the sand dunes of the sahara and sleeping in the desert beneath a stunning canopy of stars in our traditional nomad bivouac camp.

    The sahara desert remains one of the most enigmatic and beautiful places on earth.”” offers you the opportunity to travel across this landscape on the back of a camel, a method of transport across the sahara that stretches back thousands of years. View stunning scenery, unique rock formations and enjoy a culture strong enough to survive in one of the most extreme environments on the planet.

    Overnight Camel trek with “” is an experience you will never forget and one which we hope will bring something unique to your adventure. Our desert tours offer traditional music and drumming, excellent cuisine and sleeping in the desert beneath a stunning canopy of stars in our traditional nomadic bivouac

  • Berber Tours Morocco is small professional tour operator based in Marrakech. We believe the best way to explore and experience Morocco is through the eyes of the local people. Founded on the Berber tradition of welcoming and hospitality, we provide custom itineraries with impeccable service at competitive prices
    Our team of drivers and guides consists of highly qualified locals with a vast knowledge of the labyrinth streets of Marrakech, the coastal cities of Essaouira and Agadir, the villages and scenery of the Atlas Mountains and the never-ending dunes of the desert.
    Our drivers and guides are all licensed to work with tourists in Morocco, and speak English, French and Spanish.
    We offer a selection of itineraries of varying lengths and destinations to explore and discover a Morocco full of hospitality, everchanging scenery and starlit nights.
    Search our website for inspiration and tell us, what you want to discover and we will make your custom itinerary. Whether it is an individual tour or a larger group event, we carefully plan and check each detail to ensure that you will have an enjoyable and memorable experience.
    To provide an exclusive and authentic experience we arrange for our clients to stay in traditional Kasbahs and Riads. In the desert we arrange for our clients to spend an unforgettable night in nomadic bivouacs after an enjoyable camel ride across the dunes.
    We can accommodate travellers on a budget, as well as travellers looking for luxury.

    For more informations, please visit our website:

  • Mariana Garvalho

    My friends and I had an amazing time in Morocco we used Hassan Mouhou
    from Morocco Excursions Company An experience we will never forget. It
    started with Ali (our tour guide) collecting us from our Riad in
    Marrakech on a rainy Tuesday. After that the whole experience just got
    better and better. Ali drove us through snow (It was February) over the
    Atlas Mountains and then down in between the High Atlas and Anti-Atlas
    Mountains. We stopped off wherever required, so had plenty of breaks at
    some really interesting places (one of my favorites is Ouarzazate). He
    knew all the right places to stop off at so we didn’t waste time seeing
    the best sights. After that we stayed at Dades Gorge in an interesting
    hotel. It was a freezing night outside, so be prepared to take warm
    clothing if you go in Winter (and want to go outside), however the huge
    fire they had in the restaurant was lovely. The next morning Ali greeted
    us to take us out to the desert. We drove to the top of Dades Gorge and
    then went out to another Gorge, which was equally stunning. Take a big
    memory stick in your camera, because you will use it!

    I think the most amazing part was the actual time in the desert. Ali’s
    great fun, so with the 4×4 we took an offroad route to get to Merzouga
    quick. Great fun! After arriving at the hotel in Merzouga, which
    literally is on the edge of the desert, I met the famous Hassan. Hassan
    sat down and talked with us over a cup of tea. He made it quite clear
    that we don’t need to take the kitchen sink with us, since we were only
    going to spend the night in the desert (we were on the 3 day excursion),
    therefore we really just needed something warm to wear if we choose to
    venture outside, as well as something for bed. Even though you’re in the
    desert, the sand doesn’t stick to you, so it’s got little chance of
    making the tents dirty.

    The camels are great fun to ride, and the man who walked our camels the
    one hour to get to the tents was probably one of the fittest guys I
    know. He’s Aziz and wears flip-flops to walk up and down sand dunes.
    Doing that for 5 minutes for me is exhausting (and I run marathons), yet
    Aziz is able to do this for hours on end…. With flip flops.

    We arrived close to our tents in the desert and spent the sunset
    snowboarding down the dunes (absolutely terrific fun) as well as
    photographing the amazing sun set you see there. After sun set, Hassan
    lead us down the dune to our tents. The actual tent layout consists of
    about 7 tents, all big. One of the tents is for dinner and I think 4 are
    for the guys working there (5 star service!). I guess that leaves 3 for
    guests to sleep in.

    Dinner was freshly cooked and served by Hassan’s team. It’s unbelievable
    to have such nice food all that way out in the desert, followed by
    everyone, including some of the guys who prepared dinner joining us to
    sing some Berber songs for us. There’s an abundance of drums, which
    Hassan and his friends are very good at playing. We had great fun, and
    it was an honour to hear some genuine Berber music played live for us. A
    really special evening!

    The sleeping tent has candles and plenty of blankets. It was probably
    one of the deepest sleeps I’ve ever had. No problems with scorpions or
    any other creepy crawlies, since they don’t come out in winter. Also
    there’s a few cats around that deal with any nasties like that. It felt
    weird for me to go to sleep in bed without first having a shower (since
    we had just been snowboarding down sand dunes), but as I said, the sand
    doesn’t stick on anything, so you’re clean just by patting it off. It’s
    true what Hassan said, the sand’s clean.

    All in all, we had an incredible time. We enjoyed every single day, both
    the excursion and the warm company that joined us. We thoroughly
    recommend Morocco Excursions ( ) and will happily join Hassan and his guys again. – Absolutely loved every minute of it.

  • jastine kv :Experience the ‘Magic of Morocco’ with a camel trek through the dunes of the beautiful Erg Chebbi Desert, set camp in an authentic Berber tent, and build a campfire under the stars for a cup of tea and traditional Moroccan tagine.

    Or customize your tour of Morocco to include a 4 x 4 trek through the Atlas Mountains, visit the magical cities of Casablanca and Marrakech, the beautiful mountain city of Chefchaouen, the charming seaside haven of Essaouira and much much more!

    Sahara Gate Tours is a tour company which offers private tours that are customized to your taste, budget, and time frame.Sahara Gate Tours Our tour experts are native Moroccans with a rich cultural heritage who are very proud of their history and country. The Sahara Gate Tours team has been working in the tourism industry for many years and speak fluent English, Spanish, French, Arabic and Berber.

    Let us show you Morocco as we know it and love it— the places, people, the food, the history and the culture— we are anxious to share it all with you!contact us

  • Paradise Found Around

    Hey Robert,

    Fantastic post on the Camel excursion – by far the best one I’ve found. Thanks for all the great info. I’m considering doing a similar trip as you, leaving from Marrakech, riding the camels, then trying to make my way to Fez at its end, however am wondering how much luggage this means I should bring. The majority of people seem to leave some stuff at their hotels in Marrakech, but like, you I wouldn’t be returning there so would need to bring everything I had with.

    Do you have any recommendations on what type of bags to bring on the camel trek? I have a backpacking bag and smaller backpacks and imagine anything with heels is ridiculous, but I just want to confirm.

    Thanks for any insight,


  • Robert Schrader

    I think the smaller the bag, the better. You won’t need a lot of your own stuff out in the desert, and you don’t want to stress the poor camel out with any unnecessary weight.

    Happy travels!

  • sykhairi

    Hey Robert,

    I’m planning to rent a car and travel all around Morocco and one of the places I’m interested to visit is this Sahara desert. However, do you recommend going there by myself with a car and is it possible to sort out the accommodation myself? I’m still a bit sketchy of how this place is in terms of accommodation and cafes/restaurants available nearby.


  • Robert Schrader

    You can sort out the accommodation using any booking site, such as or the like. As far as driving alone, it’s “safe” in the sense that you don’t have to worry about terrorism or anything, and roads are OK condition. But Moroccan drivers are quite crazy!

  • MTA

    Hi sykhairi ,

    Go to , If you want to ride the camel and spend a night in the desert under the stars with a good price and nice services ,

  • Susyray

    I went to Morocco with a friend in December 2014. Neither of us had ever visited any part of Africa before and we were of course very excited. I was particularly looking forward to visiting the desert, a dream I had had for some time. We booked our 4 days 3 night Marrakech desert trip through before arriving in Morocco and were immediately contacted by Iddir (Owner), who answered all of our many questions (concerning everything from packing advise to safety questions). An experience that will stay with me forever and I warmly recommend MMT.

  • Samantha Solis

    After doing pretty extensive research for our desert tour in Morocco, we decided to put the fate of our 4 days 3 nights Marrakech Desert Tours in the hands of Marvelous Morocco Tours after reading comments in this blog thanks to Mr Robert for sharing this blog, as found MMT highly recommended in TA. everything had been going exceptionally well. The communication, customisation, promptness & professionalism was excellent. Our driverGuide was Iddir met us at our hotel, He was a great driver and guide through the most beautiful country. Everywhere we stayed the people were so warm and welcoming and the food was phenomenal!!! He even took us to his house to have tea with his family. The highlight of the tour, of course, is the night in the desert. Such an amazing experience! The other sites along the way (Kasbah Ait ben Haddou, Dades gorge, Todra gorge.. etc.) I highly recommend this company :

  • Robert Schrader

    Thanks for relaying your experience – I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  • Delila

    I arranged a tour to erg chebbi desert, pretty much last minute, for me and some other people I met in a hostel in Fes. Our group went from two to three to five, and there were no problems – Hassan from Morocco Excursions company ( met me where the overnight bus dropped us off and was totally fine with our expanded group.

    Since we arrived at 6:30 am, we had to wait until the late afternoon to head out into the desert. We were allowed for free to rest all day at Le Petit Prince in rooms and shower, which was great. We were later joined by several other groups and we set off on our camel safari as a group of 15.

    The tent camp was wonderful! Comfortable, great dinner, and music into the night. Hassan (the boss), Moustafa, and co. are so enthusiastic and they pulled a bunch of us into the moonlit dunes around 2 am just to chat (in a bunch of languages, as we were a very multinational group), learn a bit of Berber, and dance. It’s refreshing to see considering how often they must do this. All of us enjoyed the hours of chatting and fooling around, and were pulled up to see the sunrise a few short hours later. Very memorable.

    After the ride back to the auberge, they gave us a nice breakfast, let us all clean up, then sent us on our way. They were also able to recommend accommodation and transportation for me to the Todra Gorges, both of which worked out wonderfully.

  • Robert Schrader

    Thanks for the feedback!

  • Michi

    is that the tour that you went on? the one arranged by the Riad Marrakech Rougue? If I were to book that tour, do you recommend that I do it in advance so that I can assure my spot? Im going in may and i am worried that it might be a busy time.

  • Robert Schrader

    Hi Michi:

    I would recommend that you contact the riad directly and ask their opinion. It can’t hurt to hold your spot, but it might or might not be necessary, depending on what the booking levels are at right now.

  • Chelsea

    Heya, I was wondering how much you paid for your trek? I’m going to Morocco in a few days and was quite shocked to hear some of the prices for the 3-4 day excursions.

  • Walid Tours

    Morocco is very neat and clean country for tourist to visit.In delightful manner you have described the wonders of Morocco via this post. I will look forward more post on travel…..Thanks, Mo

  • Camel Trips Morocco

    Desert Tour Camel Trekking Adventure Merzouga

    Night in the Desert Erg Chabbi Merzouga

    Camel Trek – 1 night in Erg Chebbi

    Tour: (1 Night in desert ) begins in evening, we organise the camel ride
    for the night in desert from a hotel near the sand dunes, The camels
    will be packed with foods, blankets and everything else which we will
    need. The trek will start right into the desert for 1:40min, We will
    spend the night in an equipped camp with drums music in the middle of
    the Sahara,this is a great opportunity to take lovely pictures of the
    sunset and sunrise, when we arrive at the camp we walk to the high dunes
    to see the sunset ,It will be a magical night when the sky is clear of
    cover and stars sparkle and shine with intensity. During the first
    night, there will be a wonderful dinner around a campfire,we will spend
    the night in nomad tents ,In the morning we will ride the camels backing
    to Merzouga , you’ll have the breakfest and shower in the hotel in

    ThPrice : 35€ EUR per person

    Included :

    A room in the hotel where we organise our desert trips to leave some of your luggage & shower

    Parking for you car (if you have

    Nomad tents (Desert camp)

    Dinner and breakfest

    Camel each ( Camel ride for (1:40 min)

    Bottled water

    Sandboarding in the dunes

    Contact Us

    To make a booking or any enquiry please fill in the form, or call us at:

    Hamid: (00 212) 671581826


    Merzouga 52202 Morocco

  • Marcus Oania

    We started our Moroccan trip from Fes, after visiting the most important places, we left the Fes Medina mid-day to roam and explore the nouville, French for the new city part of Fes. Our bus was not departing till 9 at night so we had time to chill out in the city center. While the others went to re-up on some supplies, I stayed to watch the bags. A few kids came on bikes and I filmed them with my gopro. We quickly made friends despite the language barrier. They were eager to share their tricks for the camera. I gave them some graffiti stickers and share facebook information. Facebook, Everyone inMorocco has it.

    A few mint teas, coffees and getting lost, we found ourselves at the CTM bus station.. There was a German trio playing a guitar, where Thanecha immediately took to join. New friends were instantly made by the love for music, but we never knew how good of friends they would soon become. We had a nine hour, overnight bus ride to Rissani, a stop over to Merzouga, where the Sahara meets Morocco.

    After a long, sleepless and sometimes painful 9 hours, we arrived in Rissani, at 6am, before the sun broke the horizon. A man named Mohammed approached us and asked if we wanted some food and drink at his cafe, which he claimed was open, warm and just down the street. It sounded good to us as the Germans joined us. Immediately, this man gave some negative vibes, one of those gut feelings you get when you know something is not right.

    His cafe, Panorama Cafe, was not open or even his and took 10 minutes for someone to unlock it. I called him out on it, and he was quick to be on defense. “Why would I lie to you, my friend?” I dismissed him as we entered with the Germans.

    One of the German girl’s boyfriend was coming from Merzouga to come get them, so they hung out with us until then. Mohammed’s odd demeanor continued, as he pushed his services on me. I repeatedly said I had an excursion booked and I did not need his assistance in getting to Merzouga. All I or anyone of my group was interested was some tea and coffee. He persisted and was desperate, showing me pictures and videos of his resort and 4×4. He exclaimed that the boyfriend coming to pick them up was total BS because it took jobs away. He mumbled on in Arabic as we figured him out. He knew we figured him out and called his friends to come to his rescue.

    He offered all sorts of BS answers to our questions, and would shout Africa! or USA USA! AMERICA!!! when he didnt know what to say. He eventually brought out tea for all of us, when Ryan said, I am not drinking anything this man gives us. Apparently Mohammed touched a member of our group inappropriately up on the roof terrace moments before. When the tea came out, he switched Thanechas cup with another. It was deliberate and we saw it. Something is going on and not in a good way. His desperation continues as we fight off his advances.

    Finally having enough, we all left to wait with the Germans outside, as their ride was near by. We walked down the road back towards the bus stop, where he gets in his 4×4 chases us, threatening to call the police if we catch a ride with the Germans. We had no intentions to catch a ride with them, it was just an alibi. Just then, a big blue caravan appears around the corner, to the jumping Germans delight and Mohammed’s despair. By now he was yelling at us to take his offer, yet we continue to thank him and refuse while walking away. He calls his friend to come help him not let this caravan get away by boxing it in, one car in the front and Mohammed in the back. We attempted to block his efforts to block the caravan by standing in front of his car, almost running over Ryan and Thanecha in the process. He was literally pressing the gas with two people in front of him. He threatened to call the police on us and the Germans if we got in. Tempers were high as shouting matches began, in the middle of town. What is going on?

    The Germans get in drove off leaving us trying to find a taxi, which apparently can only be found in front of his cafe. There is no way that was going to happen. We continue to walk in the opposite direction, repeatedly getting out of his car, claiming he is sorry and asks for forgiveness. By now, everyone in our group is just as hostile, all shouting at him to just leave us alone. I remained calm, thanked him and explained that there was no way we would be accepting any services from him. We walked down another street as far away as possible, cooling our tempers in the process. Did we just screw ourselves? He is probably in cahoots with every cab here, how are we getting to Merzouga?

    About a kilometer down the road, around the bend and out of sight of his cafe, the blue caravan appears. The Germans! They circled back around town unbeknownst to everyone in town, including ourselves. They quickly turned the caravan around and tell us to get in, and make it quick!

    We frantically pile in, lay on the floor in a small space, and drove away. These people were searching for us and came to our rescue. I can’t thank them enough.

    We escaped to Merzouga and was greeted with massive sand dunes as soon as we stepped out from the big blue steed.

    After saying bye to our German saviors, we walked over to the hotel next door. At the gate, I saw a young man who looked like he just woke up, but he looked familiar, “Hassan Mouhou?” I asked. “Yeah,” he replied. He looked just like the avatar he had on the emails we had exchanged earlier in the year. Short curly black hair, a young round friendly face and dark olive skin colored by the desert sun. I booked a camel excursion through his company ( Morocco Excursions Company => —— (and they come highly recommended as you will read why). We exchanged hellos and he brought us the traditional Berber whiskey (tea – sans the alcohol) out on the sky terrace of the hotel. Hassan was very welcoming and just wanted to hang out, which caught me by surprise. He didn’t try to push anything on us or sell us more junk, he just want to talk story and show us a good time. He even knew of Mr. Mohammed from Rissani. He showed us around Center of Merzouga just for fun until he had to prepare for our desert excursion.

    After a light meal, we returned to the hotel packed our bags and went out back to the hotel. There sat eight, single-humped dromedaries, snorting and farting away, ready to trek to camp. I know this is about as touristy as it gets, but hopping on one of those living desert cars and headed towards nothing but orange sand, lit by the low desert sun was surreal. Our former nomad guides, Youssef and Said, lead us and the camels by foot, towards the dunes. Our mini caravan of 6 camels trekked over 7km, across dunes as far as the eye could see. Some dunes were taller than 300 meters, simply incredible. None of us could get over the fact that we were riding dromedaries, into the Saharan desert, in Africa, on Christmas eve.

    Our guides dropped us off at a tall dune just short of camp, leaving us to hike to the top to catch our first Saharan sunset. It felt like we were children again, running up and down the dunes, laughter drifting in the quiet desert air. Was this really happening? We were in the Sahara Desert! After an obligatory mini photo shoot, we dug in and sat on the edge of a sand dune, boots off and toes in the sand, and watched the sun disappear in the distance. Perfect, simply perfect.

    We and our empty stomachs walked back to camp, ready to gorge ourselves on traditional Berber cuisine. Berber whiskey, rice with salad, and the delicious tagine chicken. We made new friends with the other tourist staying at camp with us, sharing stories of our travels so far and where we come from. Dinner was served and devoured. After washing dinner down with tea and real whiskey, we gathered around the camp fire under the moonless sky.

    Under the seemingly infinite amount of stars, we listened to the nomads play their traditional songs around the camp fire. They let us in on the fun afterwards. We got to play their drums and sing along, and perform for them as well. We told jokes and riddles all night, laughing, questioning and learning from each other. Tourist dropped off one by one, leaving a smaller and smaller group around the fire. Gwen, Sarah and I chatted with Hassan until the coals went out and could not heat our bodies in the cold, dark, desert night. The most interesting thing about the nomads is they have no concept of time. Being born in the desert, they live on a day to day basis and live their lives regardless of what happens in the world, thus none of them know how old they really are. I love it.

    Tired from the early morning shenanigans in Rissani, exploring Merzouga, climbing dunes and a late night camp fire stories, Sarah, Gwen and I cuddled in bed to deter the desert cold (35-40 degrees F) because the tents had no heat source. We piled the blankets on and drifted to sleep.

    We woke up to a chilly Christmas sunrise over the dunes. Wait, let me say that again, we woke up and watch the sunrise on Christmas day, in the Saharan Desert, unreal! While the one-nighter tourist headed back to town, everyone but Ryan headed up the dunes to do some sand boarding. Yes, it is exactly what it sounds like, we took a snow board and used it on sand. It’s not as fast as snow, but it was fun on the steep dunes. We boarded back to breakfast set on top of a dune. How cool was that?

    As if an hour half of “camel massage” (how Hassan refereed to riding the dromedaries, and being pretty sore afterwards) from the day before wasn’t enough, we sucked it up and went deep into the Black desert, riding about 2 hours in, to see a real nomad family. They were shy as we dropped in to their desert dwellings, but the children were out, in the shade watching us peer into their lifestyle. We juggled a football (soccer ball) around for a while, search for some cool rocks and learned about some nomadic ways of life. Funny enough, everyone there, including the nomads, are light years beyond me in football skills.

    Nomad life isn’t as rough as I imagined. I thought they lived entirely off the desert land, but they venture to the markets to trade every once in a while. I thought that this place is arid and dry, but the river beds will full of mud, still soft from the previous rains. However, once the water wells run dry, its time to move. They leave the houses built of mud brick behind for someone else if the well should ever replenish. From the Sahara to the Atlas, the nomads are constantly on the move. After an hour, our appetites made their needs known.

    A short walk lead us to a small oasis where lunch was served. Other tourist were there as well, as it seemed to be where everyone brings their guest. A handful of cars were parked outside, for those who didn’t make it by camel. We had Berber pizza for lunch, a big loaf of bread stuffed with all sorts of “toppings” in it. Egg, onion, chicken, peppers and rice, somehow worked. Add a giant plate of vegetables and a warm kettle of tea, and we were set. During lunch, our camels got angry and ran away, so it took some time for our guides to find them and get them back to the small oasis.

    We sucked it up and hopped back on the dromedaries, our backs and thighs reawakened to the pains of camel massage, to head to one of the tallest dunes for sunset. We passed several oases on the way, all with nomad tents around them. I could live there, I thought. Onward towards the dune.

    “Wait, were climbing up that one? Ohhh,” said Sarah when she realized what we were about to do. Before us stood a towering sand dune, the tallest in the area, with footprints along the ridge that lead to the top. We packed our cameras and water bottles, and started our ascent. We climbed up a 300+ (over 1000 feet tall) meter dune, all uphill along the ridge, in deep Saharan sand. Needless to say, it was tiring, but the view was rewarding.

    Truly a special moment, watching the sunset 300m above the desert floor, ankle deep in the sand, on a steep dune in the Sahara. Merry Christmas indeed.

    Christmas night was even better. Camp was full, nearly 25 total fellow tourist, some of them wasted, singing and dancing around the fire. It was amazing to say the least. People from all over the world all having a good time around the camp fire in the Sahara. The Berber nomads encouraged every one to join in, all while having an even better time themselves. We danced and sang the night away, with drums and even a guitar for Thanecha. When our turn to sing a song came up, we rapped the fresh prince of Bellair, naturally. All the English speakers joined in about a story all about how my life got twisted upside down…. We told jokes and riddles again, under the stars that seemed to be so bright that they could cast shadows. We partied the night away, having the time our of lives. Not your typical Christmas, but definitely one to remember.

    You can read more about our Moroccan experience by visiting our blog :

  • Robert Schrader

    Thanks for the amazing narrative!

  • billy

    Nice article and great insights. We were there last year and we can not wait to head back to Marrakech and sneak into the desert for 3 or 4 days. Last time we used a Marrakech travel company who arranged a chep 3 days desert trip from Marrakech ( 89,00 € pp ). We had a 17 seater minibus, stayed at hotel Le Vieux Cahteau in Dades on the first, and in a desert camp in Erg Chebbi on the second night. The highlight of the trip was the camel trekking in Erg Chebbi with sunset watch. their website is:

  • Beny

    The important thing is you enjoyed your trip in Moroccan desert, and you kept a beautiful memories and took a new experience in your life.

  • Camel Trips Morocco

    Camel Trips Morocco

    offers you a wide selection of possibilities to explore and experience the authentic Morocco and enjoy the Sahara Desert. We offer a selection of day excursions, longer tours, desert camps and camel rides, and other tailor-made adventures.

    Camel Trips Morocco Enjoy the Desert with the Nomads

    Camel Treks In Desert Merzouga


    Email :

    Centre Merzouga 52202 Morocco

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