What to Expect in Merzouga Desert
We booked our tour via Marrakech Desert Trips, a reliable tour company in based in Morocco. More specifically, we availed of the 3 Day Desert tour from Marrakech to Merzouga.
When you book Morroco Sahara Desert Tour from Marrakech, you can expect, first and foremost, a very long drive and trek to see the beautiful sights of the Sahara Desert, ride on camels’ backs, climb up the Dades canyons, sleep in the desert camp and you’ll get to see different highlights of the Merzouga desert. The entire trip takes three days, so expect a lot of time driving and surprises–this sort of trip is a perfect fit for people who enjoy adventure but it caters to those who would like to sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery too.
How to book a Marrakech Desert Tour
Why did I choose this particular tour? It’s a given – I love planning trips. When it comes to a trip with my friends and I, I usually get assigned to the planning part.
I messaged different agencies for this Marrakesh tour and many of them offer the exact same package. There was even this one shared tour that costs significantly less, but the tour we chose in the end had a Whatsapp number, making the agency easier to contact.
The representative for the agency was very easy to talk to from the beginning and was kind enough to answer all my questions. I was quite picky with the tour – despite wanting something that fits into our allocated budget, I also wanted to stay at good hotels and have adequate time for ourselves – to bask in the atmosphere and to take pictures. Unfortunately, I guess that’s something you can’t have in a shared tour – they tend to be rushed.
I also loved talking to the owner. Thus, the booking was sealed. A percent was paid via paypal and the remaining balance was to be paid at the meeting place itself.
Trips from Marrakech to Sahara desert is long but a Must do while in Marrakech. For the entirety of our three day tour, we had Mohammed as our driver. Great driver, very funny, spoke in good English and had tons of information about our tour, and Morocco to share. Another funny thing was that he had a music tape with songs of different languages to play on the ride – I guess it was so he could cater to any sort of guest.
Overall, the car was super comfortable and we were entertained and kept company by a great driver. He even woke us up when we drove by a picturesque spot because he knew we loved to take pictures. He had lots of good suggestions and also brought us to various places at a good time – the crowds weren’t so big WHICH WE LIKED! He also made sure we got to the hotel early enough to check in and on top of that, he even said to the receptionist to: “give my girls the corner room” in order to ensure we slept in the best rooms with really really good views. We couldn’t have asked for a better trip!
3 Days Merzouga Desert Tour and Itinerary and Reviews
DAY 1: MARRAKECH – BOUMALNE DADES (06H00 DRIVE)
Our 3 day desert tour began early in the morning, at around 7:30 AM. First and foremost, the Morocco desert tour will start with a drive to Kasbah Ait Ben Hadou. On the way, you will pass through the Tizi Ntichka pass which is a pass made out of concrete in between and above large mountain structures, more specifically the High Atlas Mountains.
Marrakech is truly a beautiful place, because even the drive itself was amazing, we could spot truly scenic sights just out of the vehicle window. We made several stops along the drive in order to walk around, stretch our cramped legs and look at the beautiful scenery.
You will be able to see the UNESCO World Heritage Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou, which was formerly a trading post between Marrakech and other countries and is now very sparsely populated by a handful of people- not only that, but it is also a location where various movies and Hollywood blockbusters were filmed. It is very picturesque. I wanted a picture in the tea house but I had no idea where it was. I even asked Mohammed but he wasn’t quite sure. I just saw it in Instagram. When I got to the top, however, I caught sight of the carpet and what immediately popped into my mind was: THERE, THERE IT IS! I wanted a shot from there, and my friends were willing enough to accompany me. It made for a nice picture but I didn’t know where it was until I saw the rooftop from the very top view.
You will also be able to see Ouarzazate and Kasbah Taourirte freely before lunch time. They are both small towns which have been used as passageways towards the inner parts of Africa even during the early days, hence why it is often called the “Door of the Desert”, or the “Gateway to the Sahara Desert”. The two areas feature traditional Moroccan houses with rectangle-like appearances and small windows.
After lunch, we drove to the Boumalne Dades via the Valley of the Roses which is a beautiful lush field filled with different types of flowers native to Morocco, before finally reaching the guesthouse in Dades Valley where those who availed of the tour will have dinner, and sleep overnight. When driving through Dades Valley, a good idea is to roll down your windows to smell the scent of the flowers. If you’re lucky, you can even buy yourself some rose oil as well – one of the country’s best exports.
DAY 2: BOUMALNE DADES – MERZOUGA (4H00 DRIVE)
At the guesthouse in Dades Valley, breakfast will be prepared for everybody who partook in the tour. After eating, another long, four hour drive awaits.
First and foremost, the vehicle will drive through the 1001 Kasbahs Road, also known as the The Valley of One Thousand Kasbahs. It is called such because along the road are plenty of Kasbahs, which are mud-brick forts with small windows commonly used as defense during the early times.
The vehicle will then arrive at Tinghir in Southeast Morocco, where you will find the Todgha River Banks. Here you can take a nice, leisurely walk. You can visit the Berber Villages which are houses atop lush greenery and rice terraces, the inverse of the usual sand-riddled roads and dunes. The main attraction of this area, however, are the Todgha Gorges.
The Todgha Gorges are large, limestone river canyons which provide a beautiful view of Morocco’s topography – pictures are even more beautiful when taken on a clear, sunny day. You can relax, walk around the river and even dip your feet into the cool waters for a little bit.
You can have lunch at leisure in the area, as well, so bring along picnic blankets if you want, so you can sit on the ground by the peaceful river.
Then, the drive continues – onto Merzouga.
You will arrive at Erg Chebbi, one of Morocco’s most beautiful large seas of sand dunes. When the road ends, you will meet your camel caravan. Of course, being a desert, there won’t be any water so be sure to pack some of your own or purchase it from the tour guides.
Once you’re all set, you’ll be taught to ride your camel over the breathtaking sights of gigantic sand dunes. As the day comes to a close, you’ll be greeted to an incredible, once in a lifetime sunset. If you reach the evening hours, you can even catch a glimpse of the starry, clear desert skies.
Once finished with the desert tour, you’ll drive your camels back to your desert camp to end the day with a bang – a delicious Moroccan dinner served under the stars next to a campfire. You won’t be reaching for your phone for entertainment on this evening because you’ll be presented with locals playing drums and instruments during your moonlit meal. After you’re finished eating, watching the show, and admiring the sand dunes in the Saharan desert, you’ll spent another night at the Saharan desert camp. We absolutely loved this night – the camp we stayed at was called Camp Bouchedor.
While everyone can agree that going on a travel escapade in the Sahara Desert is definitely a fun adventure, many would not believe that an adventure like that can also be both relaxing and luxurious. But Camp Bouchedor in Morocco gives you just that – adventure and luxury.
The Camp : Camp Bouchedor in Erg Chebbi Desert
The luxury camp is located in the Erg Chebbi desert, part of the Sahara Desert that stretches to Morocco, and in the village of Merzouga. We rode a camel from the town to the camp, and it was in itself an unforgettable experience.
Needless to say, the backdrop is breathtaking. It genuinely feels like you’re in the middle of an endless sea of sand that is straight out of the movie Aladdin.
There are plenty of reasons why it fittingly calls itself a luxury camp. One of which is that it gives off an exclusive vibe. Camp Bouchedor consists of only eight large jaimas or tents. So overall, the camp accommodates a total maximum capacity of just 25 people. With that few people, anyone is bound to feel like they’re in some sort of elite private getaway.
We especially liked the common area found at the center of the camp. It provides the perfect place to get to know and exchange stories with your fellow guests. It’s also where you get to see a wonderful night performance that features some locals singing and dancing around the fire. They also taught us how to play a few of their instruments, and they talked to us as well. It’s truly a wonderful and memorable way to appreciate the Moroccan culture and people.
The design, style and ambiance of the place also scream luxury. From afar, the Camp Bouchedor looks simple and so much like a camp with its large, white tents. But once you open the flap and walk into your own private jaima, you will find that it’s nothing like the tents we usually associate with outdoor camping trips.
We stayed at a 3-bedroom, and let me tell you – their jaimas are more like spacious pavilions with a perfect combination of modern comforts and traditional Berber designed furnishings. From the soothing relaxation you will find on their bed to the clean elegance of the bathroom, everything about it oozes native elegance. After a day filled with activities, there is nothing nice than returning to a tent that feels more like a hotel room than anything else.
The secluded camp has one restaurant that serves traditional Moroccan delicacies. Don’t worry, even if you’re not used to the local dishes and flavors, I can guarantee that the restaurant serves nothing but high quality food. The lamb, for one, was excellently cooked and seasoned.
The restaurant doesn’t serve alcoholic beverages, but the camp allows you to bring your own if you want. Fortunately for us, the guests who were there with us were nice enough to share their drinks with us.
Just because you’ll be staying in the middle of the desert and away from all the hustle and bustle doesn’t mean you won’t be able to do anything fun. Camp Bouchedor offers a bunch of activities that are sure to keep you delighted and thrilled throughout your stay.
There’s the Dromedary or Camel Tour where they take you to the heart of the dunes and watch the sunset. The sunset I saw while I was there is without a doubt one of the most spectacular ones I’ve ever seen. We were also able to go sandboarding for free which I found to be so enjoyable.
Other activities you can do are having a sand bath, which is a traditional Berber treatment to rheumatism, riding a 4×4 across the dunes, having a romantic lunch picnic and going on an excursion via buggie or quad led by a tour guide.
I absolutely loved every moment I spent in Camp Bouchedor. It’s the best way to experience not only Morocco but the adventure of being in the middle of the desert. There is no doubt about it: Camp Bouchedor will give you a once-in-a-lifetime Morocco desert getaway that you will never forget.
All in all, Camp Bouchedor was lovely – we all fell in love. Our only regret is that we couldn’t have our fourth friend, Tess, join us. We four usually do everything together, but unfortunately she had to cut her trip short. Perhaps that’s another reason to go back to the beautiful Moroccan landscapes. Nevertheless, the camp was definitely one of the trip highlights.
DAY 3: MERZOUGA – MARRAKECH (9H00 DRIVE)
Day 3 of the desert tour consists mostly of driving back to your original location – your hotel or riad in Marrakech. You can expect a long, long, long drive on the last day – around 9 hours, to be exact.
There is an early rise, which might seem like a bit of a hassle but waking up early is more the worth it for the beautiful sunrise view. After eating breakfast, there will be a drive back through the Dades Valley, Ouarzazate for lunch and the Tizi Ntichka pass – a beautiful road pass through the mountains which is great for some last minute scenery pictures.
Finally, once you arrive at your hotel or riad, your three day adventure will finally come to an end.
Overall, the Merzouga desert was fantastic – it made us want to go back, but next time maybe for longer in order to achieve a more chill, laid-back experience. The drive back cut some time out of the day so if you want to get more out of your Morocco trip, you might want to avail of the 4-day tour.
But, all in all, this private trip was great.
What to Pack for your Marrakech Desert Trip
Morocco isn’t your typical tourist destination. It is a nation located in North Africa, meaning its teeming with all sorts of dry land and desert. It’s wise to prepare for their climate before your trip so you don’t risk being under, or overdressed. Here’s an idea of the things you might want to pack in your luggage before your grand drive across beautiful Morocco:
1.) Scarf – One important article of clothing to bring, especially for the ladies, is a scarf – preferably one made out of light, airy fabric, such as cotton. This is not only to protect your skin from the sun, but also to cover your shoulders and upper arms in order to respect the modest culture of the people in Morocco.
2.) Sunscreen – Being a location known for its hot, desert climate, contact with the sun is not avoidable. Whether or not you have easily burned skin, be it light or dark, it helps to lather on a good layer of sunscreen every few hours to lessen the chances of burns, and even reduce chances of getting skin cancer in the future.
3.) Hat – Sunscreen isn’t enough to protect you from the harsh rays of the sun – bring along a wide brim hat, it’ll help not only with skin protection but also with the heat.
4.) Comfortable shoes and clothing – Try and bring along good-quality, but comfortable sandals that won’t fall off. Make sure your clothing is breathable too – you don’t want to be sweating buckets on such a wonderful day.
5.) Power bank – Since you’ll be going on a very long drive, charging ports and sockets are going to be hard to come by. So, if you plan on taking pictures or using your gadgets, best bring a power bank with enough energy to suit your needs.
6.) Water – The desert, of course, tends to be very hot, so be sure to bring along a bottle of water to replenish your thirst. To keep your drink cold, bring a thermos. There are drinks available with the tour guides, of course – but they aren’t free. To get the most bang for your buck, bring your own refreshments.
Tips While Touring the Merzouga Desert
– Bring along mosquito repellant: Even in beautiful hotels, mosquitos still run rampant thanks to the hot weather. Be sure to slap on some repellant during your time outdoors, and even before you sleep to avoid waking up to itchy sensations in the middle of the night.
– Bring along extra cash: In Morocco, it is a well-known fact that people are typically meant to pay for the different services that they receive. If you get help from a local, it is polite to give them a top as a symbol of thanks – plus, you’ll also be supporting the local tourism and Moroccan livelihood as well.
– Get ready for the heat: The heat in the desert, especially in the afternoon, is unlike any other so if you’re sensitive to the temperature try and bring along cold water, wear cool clothes, and bring a small battery powered, or manual fan.
Timmy , Audrey and I really enjoyed our time in the Desert. We wish we could have extended but then again we covered a lot of grounds in 3 days and each one was surprising. Perhaps next time, we can find a way to make it to Fez or other parts of Morrocco.
20 thoughts on “A travel guide for Marrakech Desert Tour 3 days: What to see and What to Expect”
This looks like an amazing 3 day tour! The views are indeed amazing. So cool that your driver seems very accommodating and very thoughtful too. Love that he would wake you up if you’re passing through a beautiful spot just so that you can take photos..:)
I’d really like to go back to Morocco and visit the Merzouga Desert. I’ve been to Marrakech but didn’t have time that trip to add in a desert tour like this one, and it looks really worthwhile. The scenery is captivating and far more varied than I expected! Camping out at Bouchedor looks incredible!
Oh wow, that’s a loooot of driving! Seems like it was totally worth it though, the desert looks incredible. I’d love to have a go at sandboarding one day! 😀
Very beautiful, Ms. Karla. Marrakech and Morocco in general is a Middle East paradise. The desert, the market, the culture– they are all just so amazing.
Karla that is a perfect 3 day guide and the place seems exceptionally beautiful from your pictures. Your driver was really sweet; to wake you up at the beautiful spots.
Wonderful guide. I think you really explored the region very comprehensively. Thanks for taking so much effort to list out these details. Marrakech is definitely one of the places I intend to visit at least once in my life.
I love this post and the magic of the desert, you totally made me want to go. It also brought so many memories from my time living in Dubai and also from my trip to Namibia, going up those dunes is tiring isn’t it! I loved Marrakesh when I visited, I even bought all sorts of items and decorated my house in Spain with them, especially the lamps
Oh going up the dunes is definitely tiring. At some point, I even asked the guide to just help me up— well, he kept daring me to go down the dunes( which is fun but going up is a different story) . I would love to visit Namibia. It’s in the plans, I hope I get to visit too.
For some reason, The Valley of One Thousand Kasbahs sounds like a Las Vegas spectacular. I love how you were able to escape the crowds and explore with your Gorditas. This seems like a great way to see, not only a beautiful country, but a beautiful culture.
This all sounds amazing and that you certainly had a great driver. I would probably break for the 4-day tour to have a bit more time to enjoy and immerse in the desert culture. Long drives can be tiring. What a fun girl’s trip!!
That’s exactly what we wanted. Too bad we had to be back home already so that was all the time we had.
The Sahara desert is by far one of the best things I have ever done in all my years traveling, I did my 3 day tour with IgoMorocco in January and like your tour company they were amazing to talk to through whats-app – I had to laugh at the first sentence as I think I wrote the same about the long drives But it was so worth it, those dunes are just so majestic right? I can honesty say I don’t think I’ve ever felt more peaceful in my life.
Glad that I have someone to relate to But yes , it was very different especially Camp Bouchedor— we loved our time there,
Perfect experience in Marrakech! I love the accommodation, the adventures, and the activities. Seems really fun going there. I love all of the pictures! Thanks for sharing your experience in Marrakech and the details.
I still have yet to visit Morocco, but going on a desert tour would definitely be in my itinerary when I go. Three days is pretty long for a tour, but from your experience, it seems worth it. I love your pic in Merzouga Desert. Who took it?
I travelled with friends so they were taking my photos. 3 days is not enough actually, it’s a lot of driving as you have to cover a lot of distance. There is a nearer desert which is Zagora which I have to do next time instead. I really loved the Merzouga desert, I would even take the longer tour if possible or do the one that goes to Fez too.
What an incredible ladies ‘ trip! I enjoyed your beautiful photos and the break-down of each day. It seems like Mohammed worked hard to give you the best experience. I was in Marrakech and was SO excited to see the Sahara and the Atlas Mountains. However, I loved Tangier and spent too much time there, not allowing for a two or three day trip. I want to go back, though. Do you know if this tour company offers trips without camel riding?
Hi, You can definitely opt to take the car. He asked us if we wanted to ride the camel or ride the car. Well, we went for the former but you cauld definitely go via Car. Our things got there with the car 🙂
What a good itinerary for Marrakech! Deserts can be a thrilling experience. Good that they plan the activities for you.
Your pictures show that Morocco has a lot in common with the UAE, where I live. The Merzounga desert looks like the Empty Quarter near Abu Dhabi and the drive on the way to the desert has the typical Arabian houses like we see here as well. That is one reason why I have probably not been to Morocco yet, it is so much like the country I live in! Nevertheless, there is something very charming about the undulating sanddunes and the desert landscape and I absolutely love your pictures! Also, the one with you in local dresses, is beautiful.