There are many options for getting to the desert in Morocco and the most popular is traveling with a tour operator. Most travelers interested in seeing the Sahara desert in Morocco choose to take a 3 or 4-day trip from Marrakech. There is a large number of travel agencies in Morocco that offer adventure tours. To reach the desert in Morocco you have to travel to Marrakech. The Sahara is approximately 561 km from Marrakech via route N12 and 552 km via route N10. It takes about 9 hours to drive.
One of the easiest ways is to fly to Casablanca Airport, which has both international and domestic flights. The other way is via ferry from Spain or France across the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean. From Casablanca, you can rent a car and go to the southeast of the country. This way you have more flexibility in your planning.
You can also take a bus or airline from Casablanca airport to Marrakech or Ouarzazate. If you want to explore the Sahara desert by camel caravan, we recommend that you do so in Erg Chebbi near the desert town of Merzouga, as campsites and guides are available here.
In my previous post, I have already written my ideas about how to visit the desert in Morocco and what you can do when you get there.
Our team organizes daily tours of the desert. One of our popular desert tours is a 3-day trip from Marrakech to the Sahara. Find below more information about the trip:
3 Days Sahara Desert Tour from Marrakech
The 3-day Sahara desert tour from Marrakech allows you to discover the must-see attractions of Southeast Morocco. The tour also includes a desert overnight stay in the middle of the dunes and many interesting activities. As well as a great opportunity to enjoy the romance and colorful sunset show on the orange sand dune of Er Chebbi. You sparkle with slow sunsets on the horizon and a brilliantly clear sky in the evening, the show is provided by countless shining stars.
Departure & Return Location: Your preferred pick-up location in Marrakech
Departure Time: The tour usually starts at 08:00
Duration: The tour lasts 3 days and 2 nights (the first night takes place in the Dades Gorge and the second in the Sahara Desert)
General information: The tour is private and you will travel just you and yours with an experienced guide/driver in a comfortable air-conditioned 4-wheel drive.
The tour Includes:
- Comfortable vehicle with air conditioning.
- 1 Night Authentic Accommodation in Dades Gorges
- 1 Night Overnight Stay in a Nice Desert Camp
- Tour Guide/driver
- Camel ride
- Breakfast and dinner
Essential items to take with you:
- Comfortable walking shoes
- A cap or a scarf
- If you are taking certain medicines, make sure you have enough for this trip.
What to Expect on a 3-Day Sahara Desert Tour from Marrakech
The tour starts daily from the red city of Marrakech at your chosen pick-up location in the direction of the Erg Chebbi desert. Erg Chebbi is a desert area that lies on the edge of the Sahara, near the village of Merzouga, and only 20 km far from the border with Algeria where the paved road ends and disappears into the Sahara. Erg Chebbi and the nearby villages are known as the starting point for desert camel rides, trekking, desert bivouacs, and off-road tours.
This 3-day trip is full of many fun activities and interesting locations that will surely make your trip more interesting as you will experience different breathtaking landscapes. The incredible change of scenery encompasses stunning diverse valleys, massive mountains, dramatic desert-like plateaus, and authentic little Berber villages. So if you wish to explore the real Sahara desert, this is the most suitable trip.
On the first day of our 3-day Sahara desert tour from Marrakech, you will visit the UNESCO site of ksar Ait Ben Hadou and the cinema studio, and also the Kasbah Taourirt in Ouarzazate before passing through the valley of Roses to the beautiful Dades gorge where you will spend the first night in elegant traditional accommodation.
The next day we head to Tinghir to visit the popular Todgha Gorge where you can take a short riverside walk in the gorge. We will later go to Rissani to visit the famous sites. Then we drive to Merzoug where the camel guides are waiting for us to take us by camel to the desert camp before sunset.
On the third day, we drive back to Marrakech through the valley of Draa with its long palm grove and massive mountains. We pass the high atlas to reach Marrakech where our tour ends. It is advisable to do this tour in 4 days, as the last day of the trip is quite a long drive from Merzoug to Marrakech, so if you have more days to spend in Morocco, let us know, we also have 4 days of desert tours in Marrakech available.
3 Days Marrakech Desert Tour Highlights
- Cross the winding road of the High Atlas Mountains and the Tizi n’Tichka pass with its high snow-capped peaks, and the vast mountain range.
- A short guided walk in the Kasbah of Ait Ben Haddou and exploring the nearby Berber village with cinematic panoramas.
- Take a short walk along the riverbanks in the majestic valleys of Todra and Dades in the fresh air. Our guide/driver will show you around and make sure everything is in order.
- With the help of our camel guides, you can safely experience a camel ride and enjoy the beautiful view of the orange Erg Chebbi sand dunes with a spectacular sunset. The camel will be our main means of transport to reach the stylish camp in the middle of the dunes, where you will spend the night, enjoying dramatic sunsets, and optionally experience sandboarding as well.
- Enjoy a delicious Berber dinner under the beautiful starry sky and spend the night in your desert camp in a cozy atmosphere. If the weather allows, you can sleep safely outside under clear skies with a million brightening stars.
- Experience the traditional small Berber villages and the colorful valley of Draa with a huge palm grove and kasbahs along the way.
3 Days Sahara Desert Tour from Marrakech Itinerary:
Are you looking for an epic journey to the Sahara desert? we have the best offer for you! Our 3-day Sahara desert tour from the red city of Marrakech allows you to unlock the magic of the majestic Moroccan Sahara. A professional guide/driver will be happy to show you the most beautiful sights of Southeast Morocco. Also, you will have an opportunity to experience the nomadic life.
Day 1: A Journey From Marrakech To The Atlas Mountains, Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou, And Dades Valley
The tour starts at 08:00 AM from your chosen pick-up location in Marrakech. We drive towards Ouarzazate via the famous Tizi n’Tichka pass at 2260m altitude. Here you have interesting views of the high mountains with the snowy peaks in the background. We stop here for photos and for having Moroccan mint tea.
We continue in a winding up and down route until we leave the high mountains behind. Then, we take the left side road to the famous UNESCO site of Ksar of Ait Ben Hadou with a series of Kasbah built in clay and straw. This attractive attraction is very popular in the cinema industry. There are many movies and TV series shot here, for example, the Man Who Knows Too Much, Gladiator, and many more. These regional roads used to be very important for trade caravans coming from the Sahara to trade in silver and salt. Of course, you don’t see that anymore!
After a short tour of this beautiful ancient Kasbah with its impressive architecture, we head to the village. We will have lunch in a local restaurant. This area offers photogenic views over the river and the high mountains in the background. This is an ideal location for photography enthusiasts. Afterward, we head to the city of Ouarzazate to visit the cinema studios which were also used in several movies. You will be able to see different sets of decorations used in some famous movies such as Kundun.
Later, we continue our journey on the road of 1000 Kasbahs, the Dades Valley or better known as the Valley of roses. As its name refers, this is where the roses are cultivated and you can see that along the way. Also, every year hosts the nearby town of Kelaat Mgouna a roses festival. The region has different artisan small cooperatives where they make wide cosmetic products from roses. Upon entering the town of Boumalne Dades we turn left. We continue along the left bank of the valley to the famous Dades Gorge where you will spend your first night in traditional accommodation.
Day 2: A Trip From Dades Gorge To Todgha Canyons, Risani, And Erg Chebbi Sahara Desert
After a delicious breakfast at your accommodation, it is a good idea to start your day with a short walk in the nearby fruit fields. Later, we drive on Dades Road to the town of Tinghir. Once we reach the wonderful oasis of Todra, you can enjoy a short walk along the river banks in this narrow gorge. This canyon boasts gigantic cliffs up to 400 meters high in several places. It is a very popular gorge among international mountaineers. When you get there you will realize that your day’s adventure has just begun!
Along the way, you can enjoy the changing beautiful landscapes of the fortified Kasbahs and Berber villages. The most regional typical houses are built with organic materials such as straw and red clay. This regional road was known for the trade caravans traveling to Tombctou via the Sahara.
Then we leave for Erfoud, a Berber oasis town on the edge of southeastern Morocco. Today, the town is an ideal destination for filmmakers due to the quality of its natural lighting and the charming surrounding palm grove. Erfoud has been a filming location for several famous movies such as The Mummy and Prince of Persia. It is also famous for its petrified marble, as they make many fossil products such as tables and sinks. We can visit one of these fossil marble fabrics before going to Rissani if you are interested.
Upon arrival to Rissani, we visit its souk which is considered to be the largest and most crowded weekly souk in the South of Morocco. This small town is the ancient capital of Tafilalet. For centuries, the ancient town of Sijilmasa was an important economic center for trade caravans and a bridge for spiritual education between sub-Saharan Africa and northern Africa. Here you can visit the market to see the handicrafts and dates market. Outside the vegetable market is the animal market where they trade sheep and even donkeys and camels. Locally, it is known as the birthplace of Moulay Ali Cherif. The founder of the Alawite dynasty in Morocco and Sultan of Tafilalet in 1631. He is in fact a descendant of the current Moroccan royal family.
Later, we will drive to Merzouga. You will be welcomed with a glass of mint tea. If it is too hot, you can spend some time swimming in the hotel pool owned by the desert camp team. You leave non-essential camp luggage at the hotel. Prepare yourself for a romantic overnight stay in the nomadic desert camp. The camp is located in the middle of the color-changing dunes of Er Chebbi.
You will take a short camel ride to cross the highest sand dunes in North Africa. Once we reach our desert camp, you can climb up the highest sand dunes. Enjoy the view of the sunset while slowly disappearing into the horizon.
At the bivouac, you have your own private tent. The tents are well equipped with all the necessary equipment, even with a shower and toilets. Dinner is served under the magical million stars by the campfire. If the weather does not allow it, it will be in a large dining tent. Later you can enjoy typical Berber music performed with drums by pre-nomadic hosts.
Day 3: Travel From The Sahara To Marrakech Through The Draa Valley And Agdz
The last day of our 3-day Sahara desert tour from Marrakech is the longest journey, but well worth it! In the morning you can witness the fantastic sunrise on the nearby highest desert dunes. You will leave the desert camp and ride camels back to the hotel where you can have breakfast and shower. At the hotel, you will meet your driver who will be ready to take you back to Ouarzazate via the town oasis Tazzarine, Nkob, and through the famous Draa Valley. After lunch at a local restaurant in Nkob or Agdz, we continue our journey directly back to Marrakech through the High Atlas Mountains. In the evening we arrive in Marrakech where our 3-day Sahara desert tour ends after dropping you off at your accommodation.
3-Day Sahara Desert Tour from Marrakech Map
This tour is for those who want to experience the Sahara desert in a short time. The tour starts from Marrakech and continues through the Atlas Mountains to Ait Ben Haddou, the Dades Gorges, and then to the Sahara.
- Day 1: Marrakech – Dades Gorges
- Day 2: Dades Gorges – The Sahra desert of Erg Chebbi (Merzouga)
- Day 3: The Sahra desert – Marrakech