Morocco is beautiful in many ways, and you are sure to have a unique experience wherever you land up in this beautiful country. Yet, no visit to Morocco is complete without the Sahara Desert Safari. Quad biking on the undulating sand dunes, enjoying drumming and singing with the Gnaoua musicians, having lunch in the middle of nowhere in the desert with a Berber family, camel safari in the huge sand dunes of the Erg Chebbi or staying in a Luxury Desert Camp- you have it all here, and, it is an unforgettable experience to say the least.
After spending A Day in Casablanca the magical Sahara Desert was the second stop of our Easter Morocco Trip. Our base was the town of Merzouga, located just at the edge of the Erg Chebbi sand dunes. We are thankful to our friend and guide Hassan from Moroccoeverywheretours, who arranged everything for us in the desert and made our stay memorable.
– To start with, it is essential to plan your trip efficiently, so that you avoid the tourist traps and spend most of the time in the desert and not waste your energy traveling.
Have a read on how we figured out the quickest way to reach the Sahara Desert. It indeed saved us a lot of intermediate travel time. Spending at least a full day in the desert and a night in a desert camp is highly recommended.
– After a delicious breakfast at our stay Riad Ouzine, we picked up our 4×4 and our friend and guide Hassan drove us to the Dar Gnaoua, the place where the traditional Gnaoua musicians ply their trade for the visitors. After a round of dancing to their tunes, it was our time to get into the desert. The ride was ‘bumpy’ and adventurous, and Hassan took his chance to showcase his driving skills in the middle of nowhere in the desert.
Although it is not mandatory to pay the musicians or buy food from there, yet it is a good practice to buy their music CD’s by paying a small amount.
– After a trip to a few excavation sites, stopping at beautiful viewpoints and buying handmade souvenirs from the Berber people, it was our lunchtime. And Hassan made sure that we had another remarkable experience. He drove us to a Berber family whose presence in the desert seemed to pop out of nowhere. We had lunch with them in their own tent. Our menu was simple- traditional Moroccan salad and Berber Pizza, which was delicious. Hassan offered us the lunch as a complimentary, which we thought was a nice gesture from him.
Stock up enough water and preserve camera memory and battery. The best things are yet to come. Keep your reserves as finding accessories can be difficult in this remote area.
– The most exciting part of our travel started a few hours before the sunset. There we were, on camel back in the desolate Sahara, with beautiful sand dunes all around us and our guide Ali guiding us through. We spent almost 3 hours in the desert safari, and Ali took us to the top of a huge sand dune from where we watched the best sunset of our life.
Carry UV-protected sunglasses, cover your face and eyes. Definitely have a lens filter for your camera. Fully covered dresses and shoes are better for the camel trek in the desert. Carry changes in Dirhams as you will need to pay tips to or buy something from the camel guide.
– The stay in the Luxury Desert Camp was the best and most unique stay we have ever had. Surrounded by huge sand dunes, we were made terribly aware of the unending vastness that is the Sahara Desert. The guys at the camp were super friendly and caring, they served us a never-ending dinner and we had loads of fun after it, drumming with them and dancing to the tunes of Berber music over the bonfire. Above all, our camp was indeed luxurious and the stay was super comfortable.
The nights at the desert are cold, hence prepare accordingly. There is no internet, so reserve this time to switch-off from the outside world. If you need the comfort of having a private bathroom, it makes sense to pay a bit more for the Luxury camps. It is definitely worth the money. The cost of any desert camp usually includes food and the camel safari.
– The next morning, we got up early and positioned ourselves atop a sand dune beside our camp to watch the sunrise, which was again beautiful. After breakfast, the owner of the camp, Hamid, drove us in his 4×4 out of the desert, where we met Hassan again. Before leaving the desert, we enjoyed an hour of Quad Biking on those huge sand dunes of Erg Chebbi.
The cost for the quad bikes are around 400 Dirhams per head, including a guide. Try to negotiate in case you have a big group.
We thereafter left for Ait Benhaddou and Marrakesh, taking back an everlasting memory with us. I can only say that if you are in Morocco, a trip to Merzouga and experiencing the camping in the Sahara Desert is a must-do. After all, how many people in the world can say that they not only walked on the sands of the Sahara Desert, but also spent a night under its sky listening and dancing to Berber music?
There were a lot of things to do in Marrakesh and we even went on A Daytrip to Essaouira before drawing the curtains to our trip.
If you need a visa for Morocco, the process is super easy and described in my blog here.
Please let me know in your comments if you like my travel memoirs and if it helps you to plan your trip as well!