Morocco Sahara Desert trip – Marrakesh to Merzouga in three days!
Do you want to discover the second highest African Mountain – Atlas? Do you want to drive through amazing valleys and river canyons, ride a camel and at the end sleep outside in the middle of Sahara Desert? Then don’t miss out on these experiences in Morocco as I have to admit this is one of the most amazing things we have done so far!
You can book a trip to Merzouga from basically every main city in Morocco – Marrakesh, Fes, Rabat, Casablanca or Essouira. We booked this 3 days/2 nights trip from Marrakesh for the price of 70 Euro (700 dirhams) in a local tour agency. Big thanks for the warm welcoming and good organisation to our new buddies from Emotionkech, who arranged our adventure to the dessert!
Similar trips are offered everywhere – in almost every hotel, hostel, at tour operators and even on the street. Remember that negotiation is like a “national sport” in Morocco so make sure you bargain the price until you get the trip for somewhere around 70Euro (same price for Marrakesh and Fes). There are a lot of daily trips from Marrakesh so you can combine several trips for even better price. We bought a daily trip – 25 euro plus desert trip – 90 euro for the total price of 70 euro. Not a bad deal 🙂
The Sahara desert near the city of Merzouga is the final destination of this three-day adventure, but the road trip is as exciting as the desert itself. First the road crosses the Atlas Mountains then you drive down to an ancient barber city where the movie Gladiator was filmed, then you go through amazing river valleys and huge river rock canyons before you finally arrive at Sahara.
You will meet up with your travelling buddies (usually groups of 10-12 people) early in the morning at Café France near the main square in Marrakesh named Jemaa el-Fnaa. And you will start your adventure with a mini bus, which is quite nice, comfortable and air-conditioned.
Then you will go up to the highest point in your journey in the Atlas Mountain at nearly 2300 meters. This part of the trip goes on a very curvy road and offers spectacular views over rivers and mountains. Expect stunning views and great spots for selfies 🙂
Next, you will drive about two hours to the famous village of Ait Ben Haddou, where the movie Gladiator was filmed, as well as 35 other famous productions. Small narrow streets curving around Kasbahs, colorful souvenir shops and friendly locals will meet you at this unique place marked as UNESCO World Heritage site. Climb up at the top of the hill and you will discover a breathtaking view over the entire valley.
Next stop on your way to Sahara desert will be Ouarzazate or also known as the cinema capital of Morocco. You will pass by the movie studios where all the movie decors and preparations are done. Have in mind also that most of the actors stayed in this small city, so you can feel the red carpet vibe on the streets yourself 🙂 You can also visit the Cinema museum right in the center of town or the Atlas movies studio where you can take pictures of very memorable movie decors and scenes.
Another hour drive will take you to a small village named Dades Valley. It’s situated along the Dades river that forms amazing canyon and offers one of the most spectacular scenery from the entire trip. The valley is over 120 km long and covered with amazing rock formations. The most curved and scary road we have ever seen is your last challenge for the day while you drive through the mountain in order to reach your hotel.
The next day you will spend mainly in driving until you reach Merzouga. Be patient since you are crossing hundreds of kilometres though the mountain and enjoy the views along the way! On your way you will stop for a short walk in a local village named Tinghir – you will meet will locals, have lunch in a local restaurant and optional you can have local craftsman tour. 15 min from the village is another amazing river canyon with over 300m high rocks – Todra Gorge and this will be your final stop before reaching the Sahara Desert.
And now after two days traveling through mountains and valleys it’s time for the real desert experience. Another 3 hours drive from there and you will reach the final destination of your journey which is also the end of the road! Yeah, really – here at the small town of Merzouga only 20 km away from Algeria border is where the paved road ends and the real Sahara Desert sand dunes begins.
A camel caravan with guides will be there waiting for you. These two hours on the back of a camel are one of the most exciting experiences we’ve ever had over the world. One after another you will go through amazing red-orange sand dunes at sunset. Almost at dawn you will be at the camp where you will be served local nomad dinner in the desert tent. They will provide mats and you can pick a quiet dune where you can sleep under the stars. Yeah – there are so many stars, hundreds, thousands, millions of them, which will offer you unforgettable and amazing night.
Have you visited Morocco or have you experienced a desert trip in another part of the world? Please share in the comments below!
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