WHAT TO EXPECT FROM A MARRAKECH TO MERZOUGA PRIVATE DESERT TOUR

We receive a lot of inquiries from clients requesting us to organize a private 3 days desert tour from Marrakech or a Marrakech to Fes desert tour on 2 days / 1 night. Maybe they are unaware of the distance between Marrakech and Merzouga or Fes to Marrakech via Merzouga and Merzouga. Or, they do not have sufficient time in Morocco, and they are in a rush. Therefore, they can only spare two days for a desert tour. Well, some honest advice: Marrakech to Merzouga or Marrakech to Fes desert tours can not be organized in 2 days; they are not worth your time, money, or energy. A desert tour from Marrakech to Merzouga or Marrakech to Fes requires 3 days to enjoy your Marrakech desert tours, covering all the exciting areas in between and arriving at Merzouga early enough to prepare for a sunset camel ride in Erg Chebbi.

3-day desert tour from Marrakech – The itinerary

Day 1 : Marrakech – High Atlas Mountains – Kasbah Ait Ben Hadou – Ouarzazate – Skoura oasis – Boumalne Dades

High Atlas Mountains:

Today’s itinerary covers around 300 Km through one amazing scenery after another. 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 Haddou:

The next major stop is the legendary Ksar Ait Ben Haddou: It is one of the 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 have turned into a giant open-air bazaar selling local crafts to tourists. However, it is still worth a visit.

Ouarzazate:

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 city’s entrance. 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 they waste time and money. As soon as you reach the city center, you will quickly notice the high walls of Kasbah Taourirt, a 19th-century Palace home to the late Lord of the Atlas, Thami Lglaoui.

Skoura oasis:

A short 30 Km drive from Ouarzazate, you will notice a beautiful oasis on the left-hand side of the road. It is Skoura oasis, one of the significant oases in Morocco, famous for its date palm trees and the 17th-century Kasbah Amridil. During the guided visit to the Kasbah, you will learn about the architectural wonders of the Kasbahs, the Berber lifestyle, the Moroccan desert irrigation system, and some antique agriculture techniques used until nowadays.

Klaa Mgouna:

Today, your next stop will be Klaa Mgouna, most known for its Damascus roses cultivation and rose artisanal water factories. Feel free to visit one if you wish, and maybe buy some local rose water products.

Boumalne Dades:

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. Dades River amazingly carved out canyons originating from the High Atlas Mountains.

Day 2 : Boumalne Dades – Tinghir – Todgha gorges – Erfoud – Rissani – Merzouga – Erg Chebbi

Tinghir – Todgha Gorges

Today’s first stop will be in the town of Tinghir, located at the heart of a lush green oasis, with the Todgha river crossing its center. 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 watching ladies washing clothes at the river.

Tinghir is also famous for its Todgha Gorges, a series of limestone river canyons that reach 400 m high. The canyon is one of the favorite spots for rock climbers.

Erfoud

Famous for its centuries-old Ksars, a dates market, and the last central town before the Sahara desert, Erfoud is where you can stop for last-minute convenience store shopping, ATMs, or even buy a bottle of wine. In addition, many direct off-the-beaten-track roads to Erg Chebbi are available from Erfoud.

Rissani

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 descendant of the Prophet. Rissani is also known best for its fortified earthen Ksours, which are still inhabited by locals and have seen a significant government refurbishment plan.

Merzouga and Erg Chebbi

Just off Rissani, You will spot the pink Erg Chebbi dunes from the horizon, and you will feel rewarded. As soon as you approach them, you will realize the drive from Marrakech is 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 color-changing sand dunes on 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 a moderate setting or the luxury version where you will indeed 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. However, 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 campfire 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.

Day 3: Marrakech – Alnif – Tazarin – Ouarzazate – Marrakech

Today, feel free to wake up early enough to watch the spectacular sun rising between Erg Chebbi dunes before riding your camel back to the camp operator’s lodge for breakfast.

You will feel like your mission is accomplished: You’ve seen it all and done it all. Then, 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 the 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 reaching Marrakech.