We receive a lot of enquiries from clients requesting us to organize a 3 days desert tour from Marrakech or Fes on a 2-day / 1-night tour. Maybe they are not aware of the distance between Marrakech and Merzouga or Fes and Merzouga. Maybe they do not have sufficient time in Morocco and they are on a rush, they can only spare 2 days for a desert tour. Well, an honest advice, it is not worth it. A desert tour from Marrakech or Fes to Merzouga requires a minimum of 3 days time in order to enjoy your trip, cover all the intersting areas in between, as well as arrive to Merzouga early enough to prepare for a sunset camel ride in Erg Chebbi.
High Atlas Mountains
Today’s itinerary covers around 300 Km through one amazing scenery after an other. First, you will climb the High Atlas Mountains and Tizi Ntichka pass ( 2260 m above sea level ). The pass links southeast Morocco with Marrakech. The drive across the High Atlas Mountains is windy. If you suffer from carsickness, do not forget to take pills. However, the drive is spectacular: You will have plenty of photo taking opportunities and drive past various adobe Berber villages.
Kasbah Ait Ben Hadou
Next major stop is the legendary Ksar Ait Ben Hadou : It is one of most visited and photographed Sites in Morocco. A ksar is a settlement of mud brick buildings surrounded by a high earthen wall. It is the best example of pre Saharan architecture.
Although it is a UNESCO world heritage site, the Kasbah alleyways has turned into a big open air bazaar selling local crafts to tourists. However, it is still worth a visit.
Just a 20 minutes drive, you will reach the gate to the desert town of Ouarzazate, famous for its Atlas and CLA film Studios, both located at the entrance of the city. Both Studios are available for a ‘’guided’’ visit. Whether they are worth a visit or not is to debate. Some find the film sets interesting, some think it is a waste of time and money. As soon as you reach the city centre, you will easily notice the high walls of Kasbah Taourirt, a 19th century Palace, home to the late Lord of the Atlas Thami Lglaoui.
A short 30 Km drive from Ouarzazte, you will notice a beautiful oasis on the left hand side of the road. It is Skoura oasis, one of the major oases in Morocco, famous for its date palm trees and the 17th century Kasbah Amridil. During the guided visit of the Kasbah, you will learn about the architecture wonders of the Kasbahs, Berbers lifestyle, Moroccan desert irrigation system, and some antique agriculture techniques used until nowadays.
Your next stop today will be Klaa Mgouna, most known for its Damascus roses cultivation, and rose water artisanal factories. Feel free to visit one if you wiah, and maybe buy some local rose water products.
You will reach Boumalne Dades by the end of the day. It is a small town located at the outlet of the upper Dades Valley. This region is famous for its canyons. You will reach Dades Gorges after a 3o minutes drive on a picturesque Zig Zag road. The canyons are amazingly carved out by Dades River originating all the way from the High Atlas Mountains.
Tinghir – Todgha Gorges
Today’s first stop will be in the town of Tinghir, located at the heart of a lush green oasis, with Todgha river crossing its centre. You enjoy a walking tour in the oasis with a local guide next to the stream; watching locals herding sheep, maintaining their crops, or even watch ladies washing clothes at the river.
Tinghir is also famous for its Todgha Gorges, a series of limestone river canyons, which reach 400 m high. The canyon is one of the favourite spots for rock climbers.
Famous for its centuries old Ksars, date market, and being the last major town before the Sahara desert, Erfoud is where you can stop for last minute convenient store shopping, ATMs, or even buy a bottle of wine. Many direct off the beated track roads to Erg Chebbi are available from Erfoud.
It is the birthplace of the Alaouites dynasty, and the ancient capital of Tafilalt. It hosts the mausoleum of Moulay Ali Cherif, the founder of the Alaouites dynasty and a descendent of the Prophet. Rissani is also known best for its fortified earthen Ksours, which are still inhabited by locals and have seen a major government refurbishment plan.
Merzouga and Erg Chebbi
Just off Rissani, You will spot the pink Erg Chebbi dunes from the horizon, and you will definitely feel rewarded. As soon as you approach them, you will realize the drive all the way from Marrakech is really worth it. The view is majestic, hold your breath and get ready for an adrenaline rush over your veins when getting ready to ride your camel.
You will witness one of the most dramatic sunsets ever, with the colour changing sand dunes in the horizon.
Surprises are not over yet ; As soon as you reach your Sahara desert camp nestled in the middle of nowhere, you will take a moment to absorb the cultural shock,
You can choose from either a comfortable desert camp with moderate setting or the luxury version where you will surely feel pampered. Both camps are located in separate areas, and the decision of which camp to choose needs to be made at the time of booking. There is a higher chance to secure tent availability at the luxury Sahara desert camp when the decision is made at the time of booking your 3 days desert tour from Marrakech.
Local desert nomads will entertain you after dinner around a camp fire with their Tam Tam drums, feel free to join them and discover the hippy musician in you!
Late at night, climb one of the nearby Erg Chebbi dunes and watch the Milky Way with your naked eye.
Today, feel free to wake up early enough to watch the spectacular sun rising between Erg Chebbi sand dunes, before riding your camel back to the camp operator’s lodge for breakfast.
Now, you will feel like your mission is accomplished: You’ve seen it all, you’ve done it all. It is time to head back to Marrakech. Today’s drive will be a little long, but again, not boring at all. You will cross the volcanic peaks of Saghro massif before you reach the two oases of Alnif and Tazarin. Both are famous for Henna production.
After lunch at leisure at Ouarzazate, you will cross the High Atlas Mountains back to Marrakech. You can seize the opportunity to relax and take a nap before you reach Marrakech.