A trip to the Sahara Desert when in Morocco is a must! Sleeping in a desert camp and watching the stars from the top of a sand dune were definitely the best experiences ever!
I have been dreaming for a long time to see the desert and feel its magic. Therefore, when we decided to go to Morocco, the first thing we booked was our Sahara desert adventure. After researching many tour companies, we chose Morocco Excursions as the winner and we were not dissappointed.
We went for a private 3 day tour from Marrakech to Merzouga. Since the Sahara Desert is situated in the eastern part of Morocco, at about 600 km from Marrakech, it is quite hard to manage to get there and return to Marrakech in less than 3 days. Our guide, Said, was very friendly and he shared with us many interesting facts about the Moroccan life.
For example, did you know that about 75% of Moroccans are berbers? Although they are Muslim, the berbers or Amazighs, are divided in tribes and each tribe has its own dialect and traditional clothes. When travelling towards the Sahara Desert, you will notice that depending on the area you are in, people dress differently. Said was kind enough to take us to a place where we had the chance to dress in traditional berber wedding clothes. You can see in the pictures below that I felt like the princess of the desert.
Read more to learn about the places we have visited along the way to Sahara Desert and about our experience in the desert.
Day 1: Marrakech – Dades Valley
We have started the 3 day trip to Merzouga from Marrakech, at 8 am in the morning. Our guide from Morocco Excursions picked us up from our riad which was a huge advantage because the Medina (old city) can be a bit confusing and you can get easily lost.
We have passed through High Atlas Berber villages and stopped for some amazing views. The road through the Tizi-n-Tichka Pass is quite scary since it is right on the edge of the mountain but the views will leave you breathless.
What I find interesting is that people in Morocco usually build their houses from sand/ land. It was a real challenge to spot the villages in the mountains since the houses blended so well with the surroundings. Usually, when the houses start to fall apart, people leave and build another city from scratch right near the old one. A big advantage for Moroccan people is that they do not have to buy land in order to build a home in the mountain areas so basically anyone can build its own house with no cost.
Argan oil women’s cooperative
One of my favorite stops on our way to Dades Valleys was an argan oil women’s cooperative where basically we had the chance to see how argan products are made. After being picked from trees, the nuts are left to dry. Once they are dried, women use two stones to separate the dried cover from the actual nut. The last step is to grind the nuts until they become a paste from which the oil is extracted.
Ksar of Aït Benhaddou
Our last stop was at Ksar of Aït Benhaddou. A Ksar is a group of earth made buildings surrounded by high walls. Although only four families still live there (the others have moved to the new city) the city is full of merchants. You can find some awesome souvenirs here: anything from clothes to jewelry.
What I find fascinating about Aït Benhaddou is the number of movies that have been filmed here: Game of Thrones, Cleopatra, Gladiator and many others.
After a day full of beautiful amazing views and interesting discoveries about the Moroccan culture, we have spent the night in the Dades Valley, at Kasbah Tifawen which had the most beautiful view over the valley.
Day 2: Dades Valley – Sahara Desert
After breakfast, we headed to Todgha Gorge which left us quite speechless. The walls of the gorge can reach up to 400 m and they are impressive. Definitely a must see.
We arrived in Merzouga in the evening. The first sight of the desert nearly made me cry. I have wanted for so long to see the desert that finally achieving this dream seemed unreal. I have never imagined that the dunes would be so tall but I have soon found out that they can reach heights of 150 m.
Although we had about 2 hours left until our camel trek through the Sahara Desert, we left our stuff at the hotel and went straight to the desert. The sand color was really orange and the contrast with the blue sky was beautiful.
When the time came for the camel trek I was more excited than a child who sees a mountain of chocolate. My first interaction with the camels was like seeing some old friends: I wanted to hug them, look them in the eyes and tell them ‘I have been waiting to see you for such a long time!’.
Arriving at the camp in Sahara Desert
Although the camel ride was a little bumpy, I definitely enjoyed it! I watched our shadows in the sand and the sea of orange sand which seemed to never end with so much fascination!
I must say, when I decided to sleep one night in the Sahara Desert, I didn’t care if I would sleep right under the stars with a hole in the sand as a toilet. However, to my surprise, arriving at the desert camp it was like stepping in a luxurious oasis. We had our own tent with a king size bed and with our own private bathroom. Yes, like a real bathroom with a shower and everything.
We didn’t want to waste any second as the sun was setting down so we grabbed our board and headed to the top of the nearest dune. You can guess what happened next: sand boarding!
After so much sport and adrenaline, we had the best meal in Morocco at the camp in the middle of Sahara Desert. I think the portions of the 3 meal course were for 10 people so we only ate like 10% of all the food. Although it was delicious, my stomach cannot deal with the huge Moroccan food portions.
What can be better than playing the drums with the berber people to end the day? Nothing. Our day ended with some awesome music, playing the drums around the fire together with the berbers.
The berber people taking care of the camp basically live in the desert. I could feel their connection with nature and everything around them but one thing I will remember for sure: they always said ‘tomorrow is another day’. I think this is a god lesson and we should learn more to enjoy the present and not worry so much about future.
Before going to bed, we took some time to admire the stars from the top of a sand dune and I have to say, I have never seen a clearer sky in my life. We did try to take some shots but we didn’t manage to find the best settings for the camera so below is our best photo.
Day 3: Sahara Desert – Marrakech
In the morning, we woke up to see the sun rising from the Sahara desert and it was another magical, unforgettable moment. Soon after, we started to make our way back to Merzouga since the weather started to get really hot.
Needless to say, the road back to Marrakech was pretty long but fortunately, our guide Said, was kind enough to entertain us with jokes and some interesting facts about Morocco.
From all the tours and trips I have done until now, I truly believe that my Sahara Desert adventure was the best one yet! I would do it again but next time, I will make sure to spend more than one night in the desert.
Thanks Morocco Excursions for an unforgettable experience!
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