What to Expect on a Marrakech Desert Trip

Marrakech Desert Trip

The most popular way to experience the Sahara Desert from Marrakech is by joining a tour. Most of these are multi-day tours that take you on a journey that includes everything from visiting the UNESCO listed village of Ait-Ben-Haddou to riding camels across the dunes at sunset. They’re also a great way to avoid the hassle of trying to get from Marrakech to Merzouga on your own.

There are a lot of options for tours from Marrakech to the Sahara Desert, but the best one is going to depend on your itinerary and how much time you have. Taking a private tour with a driver/guide means you can customize your trip to make the most of your time and budget. The guide can also help you navigate the local customs and laws, which can be confusing for a first-time traveler to Morocco.

On a standard Marrakech Desert Trip, you’ll start with a pickup from your hotel or Riad in the city center. You’ll then drive to the stunning Ouzoud waterfalls to marvel at the dramatic scenery. Afterwards, you’ll head to the famous Jemaa el-Fna square, where you’ll be treated to street performers, snake charmers, games, and food stalls. If you’re traveling to the desert in winter, it’s important to bring warm clothing. Temperatures in the desert can drop as low as +2 C degrees at night, so bring woolen socks, a hat, and gloves.

What to Expect on a Marrakech Desert Trip

Day 2: Depart from your hotel/Riad and head to the UNESCO world heritage site of Ait Ben Haddou, where you’ll have a guided tour of the mud-brick village that served as the backdrop for a variety of Hollywood blockbusters like Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator. From there, you’ll head to the Draa Valley and explore a few Berber villages on your way to Zagora, where you’ll have a sunset camel trek and spend the night in a Bedouin desert camp.

On the morning of your second day, you’ll ride a camel back to Zagora for a sunrise trek. After that, you’ll head to Ouarzazate (the “Hollywood of Africa”) and visit the studios on a guided tour. You’ll then visit the kasbah of Ait Ben Haddou, which is also a UNESCO world heritage site. Finally, you’ll drive through the Atlas Mountains over the Tizi n’Tichka pass and stop in Skoura, a beautiful oasis on the road of 1001 Kasbahs.

Throughout your journey, you’ll have a chance to enjoy delicious Moroccan food and learn about traditional carpet weaving at a workshop. You’ll also see the ornate craftsmanship of the 16th-century Ben Youssef Madrasa school of Islam, with carved cedar, sculpted plaster, and intricate zellij tile work. If you have time, you can also check out the old medina of Marrakech with its narrow crowded streets and graceful colors. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

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