Are you planning a Sahara Desert tour in Morocco? Here is all you need to know.
The vast and beautiful Sahara desert in North Africa covers an area of 5.6 million square miles (9 million square kilometers). It’s the largest hot desert in the world and offers a unique and unforgettable experience for visitors.
Being in the tranquility of the Sahara desert is an experience like no other. The vastness of the landscape and the silence is something that you have to experience to truly understand.
Visiting the Sahara Desert is on many people’s Morocco bucket lists, and for good reason! It is an amazing and unique place on earth.
If you are planning on visiting Morocco and the Sahara Desert, there are a few things you need to know before you go. In this blog post, we will answer popular questions people usually ask about visiting the Sahara Desert.
Where is the Sahara Desert
The Sahara Desert lies over much of northern Africa. In Morocco, the Sahara Desert occupies a small area area in the southeast of the country along the borders of Algeria and Mauritania.
Is it safe to visit the Sahara Desert?
The Sahara Desert in Morocco is a safe place to visit. In fact, the Sahara Desert is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Morocco, and millions of people visit every year without any problems.
The only thing you need to make sure of is that you go on a guided tour with an experienced company that offers safe and reliable tours into the desert.
What is the best time for the Sahara Desert?
The best time to visit the Sahara Desert is in the winter months, from October to May This is when the weather during the day is cooler and there is less chance of rain.
The summer months, from June to September are the hottest and harshest months in the Sahara Desert and temperatures can reach up to 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit).
That’s why many Desert campsites and tour companies close during this time.
How far is the Sahara Desert from Marrakech
Marrakech is about 560km drive from Merzouga which is the nearest town to Erg Chebbi dunes in the Sahara Desert. The drive can easily take anywhere from eight to 10 hours, depending on the stops you make along the way.
Marrakech is about 350km from Zagora, which is another popular gateway town to the Sahara Desert near the Erg Chigaga dunes. Going from Marrakech to Zagora will take about six hours.
Although it takes a great deal of time to get there, the journey to the Sahara Desert from Marrakech is part of the adventure! Along the way, you will see some of the most beautiful landscapes and stunning scenery, including the Atlas Mountains.
How far is the Sahara Desert from Fez
Like the journey from Marrakech, the drive from Fez to the Sahara Desert is also a day’s long journey. Fez has located about 460km from Merzouga and over 600km from Zagora.
The drive to the Sahara is considered a very long but easy drive. The roads are in good condition and there are plenty of petrol stations and stops along the way.
To make the excursions more fun and relaxed, we recommend staying overnight in one of the villages or towns en route to the Sahara Desert. This will break up the journey and give you a chance to experience the local culture and hospitality.
Where to go in the Sahara Desert Erg Chebbi or Erg Chigaga.
The Sahara Desert in Morocco is a vast place and there are two main areas that people visit, Erg Chebbi and Erg Chigaga.
Erg Chebbi is the most popular and well-known of the two areas. It’s where you’ll find the iconic red sand dunes that are often associated with the Sahara Desert. Erg Chebbi is located near the town of Merzouga.
Erg Chigaga is a less visited area, but it’s just as stunning as Erg Chebbi. Erg Chigaga is located near the town of Zagora and it’s more of a remote adventurous place to visit.
If you are shopping for a Sahara Desert tour, you will most likely be offered a tour to Erg Chebbi but if you are offered a tour to Erg Chigaga, don’t hesitate! Both areas are equally as beautiful and offer a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Still not decided? Read our post: Erg Chebbi vs Erg Chigaga which one to choose?
Is it possible to see the Sahara Desert in one day
I say no, it’s not possible to visit the Sahara Desert in one day. As mentioned earlier getting to the Sahara Desert requires from 8 to 10 hours so it’s already a day wasted just getting there.
Plus, the Sahara Desert is a huge place and even if you are just visiting one small area, you will need at least a few hours to explore and live the experience.
In my opinion, the Sahara Desert is a place where you need to spend at least one day for the activities like camel trekking and sand boarding plus one night or ideally two under the stars to really appreciate the beauty of the Sahara.
What should I wear to the Sahara Desert?
This is a great question! The answer really depends on what time of year you are visiting the Sahara Desert.
If you are visiting during the winter months, I would recommend bringing a jacket or sweater for the evenings as it can get cold at night. And If you are visiting during the summer months, I would recommend light, loose-fitting clothes as it can get very hot during the day.
We have written a detailed blog post about what to wear in the Sahara Desert that you can check out for more information.
Should I visit the Sahara alone or with a guided tour
This is a question that we get asked a lot and the answer really depends on your travel style.
If you are the type of traveler who likes to plan everything in advance and have someone else take care of the logistics, then I would say that a guided tour is the way to go.
Guided tours are great because they include transportation, accommodation, and activities all in one package. And most importantly, you will have a local guide with you who can answer any questions that you may have about the Sahara Desert.
However, if you are the type of traveler who likes to wing it and go with the flow, then you may be better off visiting the Sahara Desert on your own.
Keep in mind that if you do choose to visit the Sahara Desert on your own, you will need to rent a car and book your accommodation in advance.
The upside to visiting the Sahara Desert on your own is that you will have the freedom to explore at your own pace and you won’t be tied down to a set itinerary.
But if you are choosing a tour, be sure to read the reviews and ask plenty of questions to make sure the tour is right for you and your expectations.
Group tour or private tour which one is best?
Well, this really depends on your budget and travel style. I would go with a private tour because it provides a more personal experience and the tour guide/company will be able to tailor the Sahara Desert tour to my interests.
So, if you can afford it, I would say that a private tour is a way to go.
But if you are traveling on a tight budget, then a group tour is your best option as it will be cheaper than a private tour.
The downside to group tours is that you will be stuck with a basic/standard tour schedule that may not be so interesting to you.
What activities are included in a Sahara Desert Tour
Most tours will include transport from your hotel to and from the Sahara Desert, a camel trek, a night in a desert camp, and various other activities such as sandboarding and quad biking.
Some tours may also include a visit to a local Berber village or a traditional hammam.
Is camel trekking in the Sahara Desert human or animal cruelty?
Camel trekking is a popular activity in the Sahara Desert and it is something that I would recommend doing if you are visiting the Sahara Desert. However, there is a lot of debate about whether or not camel trekking is humane.
I think that as long as the camels are well-cared for and not overworked, then camel trekking is fine. However, if you are against camel trekking, then you may want to skip this activity.
There are plenty of other activities that you can do in the Sahara Desert such as sandboarding and quad biking.
Is a Sahara Desert tour kids friendly?
Absolutely! Kids of all ages will love a Sahara Desert tour plus Camel trekking is a great activity for kids and most tour companies will offer child-friendly camel saddles.
Just keep in mind that the Sahara Desert can be hot during the day so if you are traveling with young children. The best times to visit with children are between May and October when temperatures are milder.
I would recommend booking a tour that includes a hotel stop before you reach the Sahara so that you can break up the drive and avoid long days in the car with young children.
Make sure to discuss all the details with your tour company in advance to ensure that they can accommodate your needs.
How much does a Sahara Desert tour cost
The cost of a Sahara Desert tour will vary depending on the type of tour (group or private), the length of the tour, and the activities included.
A group tour will typically cost between $100 and $400 per person while a private tour will start at around $600 per person.
The best way to get a good deal on a tour is to book in advance and during the shoulder season (April – May or October – November).
Recommended Sahara Desert Tours
- From Marrakech: Merzouga 3-Day Desert Safari with Food
- From Marrakech: All-inclusive 4-Day Private Atlas and Desert Tour
- From Fez: Private 2-day Sahara Desert Tour
What are some things to consider before booking a Sahara Desert Tour
Before booking a tour of the Sahara Desert, there are a few things that you should take into consideration.
- Decide if you want to go on a group tour or a private tour.
- Make sure that the tour includes all of the activities that you want to do.
- Research the company or tour guide that you are booking with
- Book ahead of time to get the best price
- Plan what to pack for your Sahara Desert tour. You may need to buy things you don’t have