Moroccan Sahara Desert tours is a multifaceted country, with interesting cities; the Amazing coast, the Atlas Mountains, and last, but certainly not least. As big as the USA; This desert stretches from the Red Sea in the east and the Mediterranean; In the north all the way to Morocco and the Atlantic Ocean on Africa’s western shore. Most of the Sahara is comprised of rocky stone plateaus, but in Morocco it becomes the archetypal desert of popular imagining, ditching the rocks for a rippling coat of towering dunes, which constantly change shape and color, from brilliant orange to rosy pink.
Traveling to the Sahara demands; A road journey of several hours, But the scenery along the way entertains; As you draw ever closer to the desert. Hop out and explore remote kasbahs and valleys lush with date palms, fields where goats nibble wildflowers, and orchards of hazel and almond trees. Once in the Moroccan Sahara desert, you’ll find small oases fringed with date palms nestling amid the dunes, and a handful of hardy Berber people here, too, carving out a slow-paced, low-impact life that has barely changed in centuries.
Morocco has two major Saharan dune systems – or ergs, as these vast seas of shifting, windswept crests and valleys are correctly called. Erg Chebbi is located at the end of a sealed road near Merzouga, just 20km from the Algerian border. It stretches 50km from north to south, with iconic dunes that tower up to 150m high. Erg Chigaga, 60km west of M’Hamid, is less easy to access than Erg Chebbi – you’ll require a 3-day camel trek or 4wd journey from Mhamid to get amongst Erg Chigaga dunes – but many feel taking time to travel here is worth the effort for the silence and undiluted drama.
Few journeys run into the disputed Western Sahara region of Morocco in the south, but it is possible to visit on an arranged tour, although this will take you well off the tourist trail and away from any major cities. This is a wild, arid land of Saharawi nomads, rolling dunes and camel trains, strong traditions, and awe-inspiring scenery.
Direct flights to Morocco are easy to come by, especially from Europe, but if you want to visit the Moroccan Sahara Desert Tours, be prepared for long road journeys, and for its vastness once here. Trips that take in the Erg Chebbi dune field head for Merzouga, pausing in frontier towns like Erfoud and Rissani. For an idea of travel times, from Midelt in the north to Merzouga takes about five hours.
Tours bound for Erg Chigaga tend to go from Ouarzazate, along the lush Draa Valley to Zagora, and finally to M’Hamid, at the end of the road and the start of the desert – a distance of 260km. The distances, remoteness, and, often, the need for a 4wd mean that joining a small group or tailor-made trip; Is the easiest way to visit the Moroccan Sahara. Besides, an organized trip will arrange for a night or two camping in the desert; With a cook and crew to set up camp and usually contacts among the local Berber community. Here, you will have the chance to learn about their lives around the campfire; After approving the sparkling night sky and enjoying a hearty dinner.
Few people come just for the desert, though. Instead, multi-layered and diverse Morocco offers a host of other attractions, from coast to city and mountains. A week is enough to see Marrakech, take a short trek in the High Atlas; Then follow the N9 road down to M’Hamid for the desert dunes of Erg Chigaga. Or take two weeks and loop around from Casablanca to the capital; Taking in old town medinas, marvelous mountains, and the wide-open desert, too. Road transport tends to be the main means of getting around, although some itineraries use trains for a few sections.
Another reason to spend the night in the Moroccan Sahara desert is for the stargazing. Undimmed by light pollution, the night sky over the desert is studded with stars so bright they look as though they’ve been polished. The moon, too, is a luminous spotlight on the Saharan landscape, gilding the dunes with silvery light. Not to be missed.
From a sunrise ride to an extended trek with local nomads, riding a camel is rarely off the itinerary of any trip to the Moroccan Sahara. These notoriously grumpy creatures don’t offer a comfy ride, but the views are great from up on high, and who doesn’t want a photo of themselves atop a dromedary to hang in their downstairs loo? Longer treks of four or so days give an authentic insight into the nomadic lifestyle, too, and are a really peaceful way to experience the desert (and you can always lead your camel when riding becomes too uncomfortable!). Witness the varied ecosystems, not from a 4wd but from the original land cruiser, traveling with local nomads, sipping mint tea prepared by shepherds, helping to cook bread and collect water, feeding animals, and sleeping under the stars.
Camels are appreciated and valued by their local owners and generally well cared for, but if you have any concerns about the welfare of any camels in Morocco, do sound these to your tour operator or contact the Travelers’ Animal Alert initiative, run by the international wildlife charity Born Free. It investigates neglect, fights cruelty, and works with holiday businesses, governments, and other parties to help develop animals’ lives.
As your strength requires from a desert, it can get pretty warm here. In fact, from June to September, the Moroccan Sahara can be uncomfortably hot; So if you want to explore it properly, the best time to visit is outside these months. April and May are great times to come. Be aware of the temperature fluctuations, though. There can be a difference of 20°C in the desert between night and day. While the cold winter months, from November to March; Bring warm clothes and consider packing your own sleeping bag if you’re camping for extra warmth and comfort; Even though camps supply blankets.