One of my favourite experiences by far when visiting Morocco was a Sahara Desert Adventure. Riding through the many sand dunes by camel was certainly a childhood dream come true. My trip included an overnight stay in a Berber camp which provided great insight into their culture; we drank Berber whiskey (mint tea), ate traditional cuisine and played music through the night and then slept under the stars. There were many highlights to the desert tour and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is spending a few days in Marrakesh. Plus, its really cheap. My tour cost around £30 which is peanuts for what you get in the price. I’ll provide a break down what’s in store for you below;
As you zig zag through the desert track and wind up the mountain you are greeted by the most incredible views! The High Atlas Mountains were an incredible sight that are a must see when visiting Morocco. They seem to go on forever. You’ll most likely visit in the morning and if it’s going to be a sunny day you can quite literally see the sun burning away the clouds to reveal their beauty. Your bus should stop off for some picture opportunities and I would definitely jump off and take full advantage.
Warning: if you do suffer from travel sickness I would take precaution as the ride up the mountains is pretty wild!
2. Aït Benhaddou
Recently featured in Game of Thrones (Khaleesi’s kingdom), Aït BenHaddou has always been a popular choice for Hollywood. Most famously, Gladiator was filmed here and when you’re being shown around your tour guide will make sure you know it! As you tour around the complex, you’ll find little alley ways and shops to explore. Make sure if you’re offered the opportunity to climb all the way to the top for the best views!
Bring plenty of water – It’s a sun trap!
3. Ride Camel back
Personally, Camels are one of my all time favourite animals. I love their arrogant nature! So, I was more than excited to get on and ride through the dunes. However, I understand that this isn’t for everyone. If you are anxious about riding the camel, ask your tour operator to keep an eye and help you out with getting on the saddle. It is important to sit right on the saddle as sitting wrong could be extremely painful. Before you arrive to meet your camels your tour guide will give you the opportunity to buy a scarf to protect you from sand storms. I would advise to take them up on it – they know what they’re doing! It will save your mouth and hair from collecting sand and it’s a nifty souvenir to take home. Ask your guide to give you a hand in making it authentic !
4. Sleep in a Berber Camp
When you arrive at the camp, you will be invited to eat Berber Tagine, sip mint tea, tell stories and play music well into the night. You will be allocated a tent to sleep in with all the bedding provided or you can choose to sleep under the stars. One of the things that surprised me most was that they had porcelain toilets with running water! I was a little disappointed with this as it made for a less authentic experience but for some this may be a dream come true I’m sure.
When you arrive at the camp, it will be almost sunset and so you won’t be able to see much of where you are and your surroundings. But, when you wake up in the morning for your Berber brekkie it will take your breath away when you realise where you are. Surrounded by desert with nothing for miles around. Paradise.
5. Find an Oasis
There are many Oasis’ on your way back through the desert and each tour guide will stop at different ones depending on the route their taking. But, whichever one that they will take to, make sure you get out the bus for a photo opportunity and snap it – they are beautiful to look at.
When you make you’re way back to Marrakesh you will see some of the many canyons including this one near Ourrzazate. It has such beautiful colours running through the layers of rock and there stretch as far as the eye can see.
7. The Weird and the Wonderful
All the way through the desert tour there were weird and wonderful sights which made for an interesting journey. Around every corner there were moments to capture and I wouldn’t miss a single one of them.
The Sahara Desert was probably one of my favourite tours to date and comes highly recommended. Personally, I didn’t book in advance and booked through one of the many tour operators which are located in and around the Djemaa el Fna and/or the souks. Alternatively, your hotel will be able to book you on a tour but it may come with a commission fee so it all depends on your budget. If you have 3 days I would try and get a tour which goes deeper into the Sahara Desert but if you have just 2 days an overnight stay in Zagora is perfect and you won’t regret it.
Bring bug spray and make sure you wash your clothes thoroughly on return. Trust me, desert mites can attack at any point!
Do you have any tips for exploring the desert? Do you have any pictures of your adventure? Share below!