Does the idea of a private Morocco Sahara Desert Tour conjure up an exotic desert caravan, a long single-file line of camels, with riders dressed in long gowns with blue turbans wound around their face and heads? Or perhaps endless golden dunes, searing heat with a sandstorm thrown in for “fun”?
Your imagination actually wouldn’t be too far off from modern reality!
We don’t hope for a sandstorm during your very own Morocco Sahara Desert Tour – these can actually get pretty intense and did you know Sahara sand dust can even impact weather and air quality across the Atlantic?! But we do have some helpful travel tips for you when planning to book a private Morocco Sahara Desert Tour, if you would like to experience the Moroccan Sahara sand dunes first-hand.
Here are all the Moroccan travel tips and Morocco Sahara Desert Tour considerations which we cover in this particular travel blog – just scroll below for the answers.
- Where can I visit the Sahara Desert in Morocco?
- How long does it take to drive to Merzouga from Fes or Marrakech?
- Is it worth my time to book a Morocco Sahara Desert tour?
- What is best time of year for a Morocco Sahara Desert Tour?
- What kind of accommodations can I expect if I book an inclusive Morocco Sahara Desert tour?
- Is a 4×4 vehicle necessary for a successful Morocco Sahara Desert tour?
- What are some of the sites I can see during my private Moroccan Sahara Desert Tour? What are some activities I can do during a Morocco Sahara Desert Tour?
- What if I can’t or don’t want to ride a camel when I’m in the desert? What are some alternative optional activities at a Moroccan Sahara desert camp?
- What is the best Morocco private tour company for a Morocco Sahara Desert Tour?
Where can I visit the Sahara Desert in Morocco?
The Sahara is the largest “hot” (subtropical) desert in the world, though the Antarctic and Artic take 1st and 2nd place respectively for the largest deserts on the globe. The original trade routes in the Sahara stretched from Morocco in the far west of Northern Africa to Timbuktu (Mali) to the south and then eastward toward Egypt.
In Morocco specifically, the Sahara starts as far south as Dakhla on the Atlantic Coast and then sweeps north-eastward toward Zagora and onto Merzouga, very close to the Moroccan-Algerian border.
In our opinion, and based on overwhelmingly positive client feedback, the best place in Morocco to explore the Sahara Desert is near Merzouga.
That’s why we base all of our Morocco Sahara Desert Tour sample itineraries along the route between Fes and Marrakech, where Merzouga is a loose half-way point between these two former imperial cities.
How long does it take to drive to Merzouga from Fes or Marrakech?
Many travelers underestimate the distance from Fes to Merzouga, or from Marrakech to Merzouga.
Fes → Merzouga is approximately 8 hours straight drive-time.
Marrakech → Merzouga is approximately 12 hours straight drive-time.
While we typically don’t advocate for long driving days, we do recommend to make the 8-hour drive from Fes to Merzouga in one day.
Marrakech to Merzouga is a longer drive and is best taken slower, especially through High Atlas Mountains pass. If you were to drive straight from Marrakech to Merzouga, the drive would take about 12 hours. For your safety and comfort, and that of your driver, we do recommend to break up this drive with an overnight along the way.
Is it worth my time to book a Morocco Sahara Desert tour?
Despite the long distance and drive-time from Fes or Marrakech to Merzouga, we feel no trip to Morocco is complete with a Morocco Sahara Desert Tour!
Riding a camel at sunset to an overnight desert camp remains one of our top requested activities to include in Mint Tea Tours’ private customized tours of Morocco. Travelers are excited to visit the Sahara Desert – there is a certain wonder and amazement in discovering the golden sand dunes of Erg Chebbi. And for many, the sunset camel trek is meditative in nature.
What is best time of year for a Morocco Sahara Desert Tour?
As we recommend for any part of Morocco, the best time of year to book a private Morocco Sahara Desert Tour is during the transition seasons of spring (April and the beginning of May) and fall (mid-September-October). Spring and fall are the best times of the year to visit Morocco, and more specifically, the Morocco Sahara Desert, as the day and night temperatures are mild to warm, without the more extreme temperature differences you can find in summer or winter.
If you must take a Morocco Sahara Desert Tour in the summer, know that peak daytime summer temps near Merzouga can be scorching, easily reaching and even surpassing 110° F / 43° C . Make sure to drink ample water, keep your head covered, and try to limit your outdoor exposure to the morning or after early evening.
And conversely, if you have planned your Morocco Sahara Desert Tour for the winter, expect to have some very cold weather at night – it’s not uncommon for night-time temperatures to drop close to freezing. These colder temperatures, along with a higher percentage of precipitation during winter, mean that both main routes for your Morocco Sahara desert tour could be snow-covered and possibly shut down due to dangerous driving conditions.
But really, the best time to book at private Morocco Sahara Desert Tour is when YOU have the available vacation or holiday time to do so!
What kind of accommodations can I expect if I book an inclusive Morocco Sahara Desert tour?
This will depend on your budget and the level of comfort and amenities in which you’re interested.
If you’re traveling on a Morocco Sahara Desert tour to Merzouga, know that you can enjoy all levels of accommodations, from basic desert camps and rustic inns, to 4* and 5* hotels and luxury desert “glamping”, complete with tents equipped with en-suite bathrooms with toilet and showers, heat and/or AC, and electricity for light and to charge your electronics.
Is a 4×4 vehicle necessary for a successful Morocco Sahara Desert tour?
No, you don’t need a 4X4 vehicle to go on a Morocco Sahara Desert tour!
We receive many inquiries requesting 4×4 vehicles for tours. In Mint Tea Tours’ countless collective years of experience driving throughout Morocco, we have concluded that apart from perhaps a short ride to access certain desert camps, 4×4 vehicles are not at all necessary to travel in Morocco for the vast majority of itineraries. 4×4 vehicles typically consume more fuel and are less comfortable than our luxury vans.
Depending on which inns, hotels or camps are booked in the Sahara or other remote areas, a 4×4 could be necessary to access the location. If this is the case, the inn, hotel or camp can provide short ride by 4×4. Some hotels, inns and camps are easily accessible and do not need additional 4×4 transportation.
What are some of the sites I can see during my private Moroccan Sahara Desert Tour? What are some activities I can do during a Morocco Sahara Desert Tour?
We provide a variety of sample itineraries for your very own Morocco Sahara Desert tour, depending on the number of days you may have available, as well as all of the destinations you’d like to visit in Morocco.
If you’re looking for just a short Morocco Sahara Desert tour between Fes or Marrakech and the desert, you’ll leave the big cities behind and your trip becomes all about nature and beautiful landscapes!
Of course, what you will see or do on your private Moroccan Sahara Desert tour will depend on your actual itinerary, but here are some of the highlights you could expect:
- Ifrane, Morocco’s “Little Switzerland”
- Barbary macaques in Azrou
- Date palm groves near the Ziz Valley
- Medfouna, a local speciality nicknamed “buried Berber pizza”
- Sunset camel trek in the Moroccan Sahara desert
- Fossils near Al Nif
- Todra Gorge
- Switchback at Boumalne Dades
- “Monkey Finger” rock formations near Boumalne Dades
- Kelaa M’Gouna, heart of the Rose Valley
- Moroccan film studio and sets in Ouarzazate
- Road of 1,000 Kasbahs, including Ait Ben Haddou
- Hiking in your choice of picturesque locations
Please know that any of our sample tours are fully customizable, or we can create a special Morocco Sahara Desert tour just for you!
What if I can’t or don’t want to ride a camel when I’m in the desert? What are some alternative optional activities at a Moroccan Sahara Desert camp?
A sunset camel trek is for sure a very popular activity when you’re on a Morocco Sahara Desert Tour.
But, if you’d like to experience the sand dunes or an overnight in a desert camp but don’t want to ride a camel for any reason, OR if you can’t ride a camel due to mobility challenges, then no worries! Desert camps can always arrange a 4×4 drive to the sand dunes or your desert camp, in lieu of a camel trek in the Moroccan Sahara.
At your desert camp or inn, you could also choose to enjoy:
- Sandboarding / sand-surfing in the dunes of Erg Chebbi
- Quad rides: If you’re not used to riding quads in the sand, make sure to ask your desert camp for any advice and follow any safety regulations.
- Sand baths! Yes, this is a real thing! Also sometimes referred to “sand hammams”, travelers choose to get buried in the sand for therapeutic reasons.
- Star-gazing: With very little light pollution, an overnight in a Moroccan Sahara desert camp can be a great way to view the night sky from a different perspective than at home. Consider downloading a star-gazing app before your Morocco Sahara Desert tour begins to you can identify any new-to-you stars and constellations.
What is the best Morocco private tour company for a Morocco Sahara Desert Tour?
Yes, we are a bit biased, but we proudly claim that Mint Tea Tours is the best Morocco private tour company for a Morocco Sahara Desert Tour!
We are located in Fes, which along with Marrakech, is the best starting and/or ending point for trips to the desert. We propose quality vehicles, driven by our team of private drivers who speaks good English and who all have excellent safety records. Our drivers’ combined years of experience is through the roof! We know the route like the back of our hand, where to stop for scenic photo opportunities, safe places to stop for bathroom breaks and lunch and have partnerships with trusted desert camps and hotels/inns along the way. We can also suggest some great places for hiking and other interesting sites to see.
But most of all, we care about YOU, our client. We are very much committed to providing excellent customer service during not just our Moroccan Sahara Desert tours, but all of our private tours of Morocco.
Read also: Top 7 Best Places to Ride a Camel in Morocco
Mint Tea Tours – Moroccan Hospitality at its Best! We specialize in private tours, excursions and shuttle services throughout Morocco – of course, all accompanied by a professional, English-speaking private driver! Contact us today to plan your own trip!