LE DESTINAZIONI

Le Destinazioni

Guide pratiche e dettagliatissime su Paesi, città e destinazioni. Cosa vedere, quanto stare, in quale quartiere prenotare l'albergo, come spostarsi, che tempo fa. I miei suggerimenti su come organizzarti e tanti links utili dove cercare info aggiornate. Da stampare e portare in viaggio.

I MIGLIORI ALBERGHI DOVE ALLOGGIARE

Guida ai Migliori Alberghi del Mondo

Le mie recensioni ragionate sugli alberghi più belli da prenotare in viaggio, non necessariamente gli hotels più lussuosi ma quelli meglio situati e con il miglior rapporto qualità/prezzo. Con la descrizione dettagliata e tutti i pro ed i contro di ogni albergo, per stare bene cercando di contenere il più possibile i costi.

I POSTI DA URLO

Posti da Urlo: i Posti Più Belli del Mondo

Quali sono i posti più eccezionali del pianeta? Quei posti da urlo assolutamente da non perdere? Una serie di articoli, sintetici e veloci da leggere, con la descrizione delle attrazioni più belle, quei posti speciali che non devi mancare durante il tuo viaggio. Con le cose da sapere ed i miei consigli su perché andare a visitarle, dove si trovano, come arrivare e quanto tempo dedicare a ciascuna attrazione.

I VIAGGI

I Grandi Viaggi

Veri e propri programmi di viaggio spiegati in dettaglio, giorno per giorno, con tutte le informazioni ed i links che occorrono per poter prenotare, da solo e sul web, alberghi, trasferimenti e voli interni.

IL CLIMA

Quando Andare

Il tempo che potresti trovare, Paese per Paese, regione per regione, quasi mese per mese. Quando è meglio andare e quando è più saggio starsene a casa. I links dove controllare forecasts ed averages di temperatura e piovosità.

LA SALUTE IN VIAGGIO

La salute e le malattie in viaggio.

Sei in partenza per un viaggio? Sei preoccupato per malaria, febbre gialla e dengue e cerchi informazioni su vaccinazioni e profilassi? L’attenzione sulla malattie e sulla salute in viaggio e di conseguenza l’informazione aggiornata sulla situazione sanitaria nel Paese che si intende visitare è un vero e proprio must per qualsiasi viaggiatore.

PASSAPORTI E VISTI

Passaporti e visti

Le informazioni su passaporti e visti, formalità valutarie e doganali, ambasciate e consolati, l'ESTA, il Timatic Web e gli ultimi avvisi per il viaggiatore

The 4 Best Sahara Desert Tours in Morocco from Marrakech

The 4 Best Sahara Desert Tours in Morocco from Marrakech

Are you going to Marrakech and would you like to take a desert tour? Are you looking for a group or a private tour departing from Marrakech to go and see the great sand dunes of the Sahara Desert? Are you wondering which one to choose among the many tours in the Moroccan desert offered by the tourist agencies of Marrakech? The 4 best desert tours in Morocco from Marrakech: the comparison and detailed description of the 4 best multi-day tours you can book in Marrakech to discover the magical world of the Moroccan Sahara desert. The cheap and interesting 3-day group tour by minivan to Merzouga with night in a tent and camel ride in Erg Chebbi, the best of all budget tours in the desert of Morocco. The less tiring 4-day tour by private car and guide to Erg Chebbi visiting the kasbah of Ait Ben Haddou and the Dades and Todra Gorges, the perfect tour if you have a little more time and prefer private services. The unusual 4-day private tour from Marrakech to Fez via Erg Chebbi, a good option if you are in Marrakech and wish to go to Fez but do not want to miss the highest sand dunes of all Morocco. And lastly, the little-known desert tour that from Marrakech leads to the wild and silent Erg Chegaga dunes, beyond Zagora and the Draa valley, the least visited area of Moroccan Sahara. With full descriptions, my considerations, some suggestions, all the pros and cons of each desert tour and direct links to check prices and easily book online by credit card.

Sand Dunes, Erg Chebbi, Merzouga, Sahara Desert, Morocco

Sand Dunes, Erg Chebbi, Merzouga, Sahara Desert, Morocco

Photo Credit: rob Stoeltje

What Are the Best Desert Tours and Safaris in Morocco?

The 4 Best Tours in Morocco’s Sahara Desert from Marrakech

Are you planning a trip to Morocco? Are you going to Marrakech and would you also like to see the desert? Do you have any doubts whether to choose a group tour or an off-road tour with a private driver and guide? I tell you right away that in Morocco the desert can NOT be reached with day trips, it is too far from Marrakech. But without committing too many days and without spending excessive money, you can book a tour that from Marrakech in just 2 or 3 nights takes you to see the great sand dunes of Sahara desert.

  • Among the numerous tours in the Moroccan Sahara desert offered by the agencies of Marrakech and bookable online, I have chosen 4 different desert tours. These are not the only ones you can book but in my opinion they are among the best and most complete desert tours from Marrakech available on the market. In particular, I paid particular attention to local suppliers, all highly respected, in business for years and who enjoy excellent reviews from travelers.
  • You will also find my suggestions of other Sahara desert safaris in Morocco, these are variants of the 4 main tours, so that you can get a broader idea of the many possibilities and options available.
  • All desert tours are described below, in a very detailed way, with full descriptions, my considerations, some suggestions, all the pros and cons of each tour and all the important things you need to know before choosing. Have a look and see if there is a desert safari you like.
  • You can book all these desert tours easily by credit card through Get Your Guide and Viator, for the great majority of tours you get instant confirmation, while for some, tour confirmation is subject to availability and will be given within 48 hours of your booking.
  • Moreover, if you stay in Marrakech for a few days and want to visit some of the best attractions in Morocco on a day trip, leaving Marrakech in the morning and coming back in the afternoon, please read my technical reviews of the 4 most interesting and value for money day tours from Marrakech in the page The 4 Best Guided Day-Trips from Marrakech, so that you can quickly get some idea of the several different options and book the tour that best meets your way of travelling.
Sea of Sands, Erg Chebbi, Merzouga, Sahara Desert, Morocco

Sea of Sands, Erg Chebbi, Merzouga, Sahara Desert, Morocco

Photo Credit: Riccardo Maria Mantero

Important Things to Know About Morocco Desert Safaris

Aspects to Consider Before Booking a Tour to the Moroccan Sahara Desert from Marrakech

  • The Moroccan desert is very far from Marrakech. Whichever tour you choose you will travel kilometers, many, hundreds and hundreds of kilometers. You will spend hours and hours on board the minivan or car. And, for all the tours that last 3 days, the first and the last day are almost exclusively dedicated to the journey to go from Marrakech and to come back.
  • None of the desert tours reviewed here are luxury tours. Some tours are very spartan, others are more comfortable. The hotels where you sleep are simple and the tent camps in the desert used in the cheapest tours are really essential, few services, don’t assume you can wash yourself.
  • In the Summer you will suffer from the heat, look that there is no air conditioning in the tents in the desert. From the end of October to April, on the other hand, the nights are cool, and decidedly cold between December and February, better cover yourself properly. You probably want to avoid using the old and worn blankets that you find supplied with the tents… better bring your own sleeping bag.
  • There are no ATMs in the Sahara desert. Do not forget the cash in small denominations needed for the whole period you are away, the opportunities to change are few. Also useful are a travel pillow to be able to rest your neck during the endless approaches by car, wet wipes to wash yourself and a pair of sandals to walk in the water (sometimes in the Todra Gorges you can take a walk in the stream) and attend the shared bathrooms in the desert camps. Don’t expect to be able to recharge your cell phone or digital battery when you are in the middle of the dunes.
  • Almost all of the tours presented here always include at least an hour and a half riding a camel to reach the camp in the middle of the dunes, and the same the next day to return to the car. It is useless to carry all your luggage with you, put what little you need for the night in a light backpack.
  • Finally, to participate in any of these desert tours you will need to pre-book on your own the nights before and the nights after in Marrakech. In other words, you will have to make two distinct hotel reservations, the first one for the stay that precedes the tour and the second for the one that follows it. I strongly suggest you book 2 nights in both situations, but if you decide to stay in Marrakech for 1 night only on your return, it is very wise to plan the 2 nights before the tour: not just the whole day you have available you will use to visit Marrakech, but also to reconfirm the tour with the local supplier.
Camel Ride, Erg Chebbi, Merzouga, Sahara Desert, Morocco

Camel Ride, Erg Chebbi, Merzouga, Sahara Desert, Morocco

Photo Credit: just_a_cheeseburger

Erg Chebbi Desert Tour: 3-Days Budget Group Tour to Merzouga Sand Dunes from Marrakech

Do you want to see the real and great desert for very little money? Are you on a super tight budget but one that suits spartan accommodations? Well, no other desert tour in Morocco allows you to reach the impressive dunes of Erg Chebbi in Merzouga for less. And not only do you admire magnificent dunes over 150 meters high, but during the journey you stop to visit the famous kasbah of Ait Ben Haddou, pass by Ouarzazate, cross the magnificent gorges of Dadès and Todra and the oasis of Tinghir, practically the best of the most exotic Morocco. The views are phenomenal along the entire route and the two camel rides, the first at sunset and the second at dawn, both not short and already included in the price, ensure a very engaging experience. Keep in mind that in 3 days you cover almost 1,400 km of road… you are warned!

Day-by-Day Tour Itinerary

  • Day 1: Marrakech – Dadès Gorges. Departure from Marrakech early in the morning towards the Tizi n’Tichka pass at 2,260 meters above sea level with views of the Atlas range. Stop to visit the picturesque kasbah of Ait Ben Haddou protected by UNESCO, and continue first to Ouarzazate and then to the Gorges du Dadès. Night in a simple hotel or hostel in Tinghir (Tinerhir) or around Boumalne Dadès. In total about 7 hours on board the minibus.
  • Day 2: Gorges of Dadès – Merzouga, Erg Chebbi. From the suggestive oasis of Tinghir, pass through the Todra Gorges and continue to Merzouga, the last village before the desert. First camel tour of 1 hour and a half among the large dunes to reach the desert camp. Night in a tent in the middle of the dunes of Erg Chebbi. About 5 hours of travel.
  • Day 3: Erg Chebbi, Merzouga – Marrakech. At dawn, second camel ride through the dunes to return to the waiting minibus in Merzouga, then a long, very long journey back to Marrakech following the Agdz road and passing again from Ouarzazate and the Tizi n’Tichka pass. Almost 10 hours of travel.
Desert Camp, Erg Chebbi, Merzouga, Sahara Desert, Morocco

Desert Camp, Erg Chebbi, Merzouga, Sahara Desert, Morocco

Photo Credit: Maureen

Everything You Need to Know

  • Desert area: Erg Chebbi.
  • Pick-up and drop-off: departure and return are scheduled from your hotel or riad in Marrakech, if you are staying inside the Medina in a point that cannot be reached by means of transport, the pick-up will take place at the closest point; it is very wise to reconfirm the exact pick-up time and point at least the day before the tour, perhaps by having your hotel staff contact the local supplier (contacts in the voucher/confirmation that is sent to you after booking) and then have them explain you clearly where to meet.
  • Duration of the tour: 2 nights/3 days; departure on the 1st day around 7 with return on the 3rd day between late afternoon and early evening.
  • Driver/Guide: English, French and Spanish speaking guides.
  • Features: low cost shared tour with other travelers, the transport takes place by minibus or larger bus with 17 seats depending on the number of participants. The local supplier is Marrakech Travel Service; immediate confirmation at time of booking, you can book even if you are traveling alone. At the time of the update of this article, one further option was introduced: on the third day instead of returning to Marrakech it is possible to take a shared group transfer by taxi to Fez, obviously there is a supplement.
  • Price: includes transport, assistance from a driver/guide throughout the journey plus camel guides in the desert, accommodation for 2 nights in very simple hotels/hostels/tents, half board (breakfast and dinner) and two camel rides. Lunches, drinks, guide to Ait Ben Haddou (costs a few euros) and tips are not included.
  • Pros: there is no other tour that takes you into the desert, the real one, spending less, neither in Morocco nor in any other country in North Africa or the Arabian Peninsula.
  • Cons: it may happen that you have a private room/tent but take into account that sometimes you will have to share the accommodation with other participants; for lunches you do not have much choice, they are provided in tourist restaurants located in isolated locations, often with a fixed menu and more expensive than Moroccan standards; both the hotel at Dadés/Tinghir and the camp in the desert are very simple; put into account the obligatory stops in souvenir/carpet/handicraft shops, no one forces you to buy anything but you would probably have spared them.
  • Good to know: when you are in the desert you probably won’t wash; the vehicles used do not always have functioning air conditioning, and above all no air conditioning in the Erg Chebbi tents; above all remember to always evaluate what you receive with the very low price you pay, sometimes some reviewers forget about it.
  • Recommended: if you are traveling alone or in a couple, you are willing to accept simple accommodation and do not want to miss the opportunity to go and see the great dunes of the Sahara desert at a very low cost.
  • An identical desert tour: only the organizer changes but the tours is exactly the same, and the price is similar too, here is the link to investigate GetYourGuide | From Marrakech: Merzouga 3 Day Desert Safari with Food. It should be noted that if the local suppliers do not receive sufficient subscriptions, the participants are aggregated to the tour proposed by the competing agency, this usually helps to start the trip anyway, reducing the possibility of cancellation due to failure in reaching the minimum number of people.
  • Are you looking for a more comfortable desert tour? The itinerary remains the same, the logic is always that of a low cost, what changes is the level of services, higher than in the two previous tours; also the cost is obviously higher but the vehicles used are comfortable and have functioning air conditioning, the hotel in the Dadés valley, even if simple, is characteristic and well managed and above all the camp in the desert is cared for with 2-person tents and shared bathroom equipped with flushing toilet, sink with running water and the possibility of taking a shower; the meals are also of a good standard and the water to drink for the night at the desert camp is included in the participation fees; this is the link to check info and prices Viator | Moroccan Desert 3-Day Tour from Marrakech. This is a shared small group tour and the local supplier is Camel Safaries, by far one of the most highly rated agencies and with the best reviews in all of Marrakech, the opinions are almost always enthusiastic.
  • Video: what happens and what you see during the 2 night/3 day shared minibus desert tour to Erg Chebbi in this video by Marrakesh Travel Services:

Morocco Private Desert Safari: 4-Days Private Tour to the Erg Chebbi Dunes in Merzouga from Marrakech

Erg Chebbi is an imposing dune cluster, almost twenty kilometers long and a little less than ten wide. It is located immediately east of the village of Merzouga, over 300 km in a straight line (many more by road) east of Marrakech and can be reached by a very long route, but entirely on a paved road. It is the best known and most popular desert in Morocco, the dunes are high and photogenic, the landscape is like a postcard. And Erg Chebbi is the main destination of this tour, enriched not only by visits to the Ait Ben Haddou kasbah and the Dadès and Todra Gorges, but also to the Amerhidil and Taourirt kasbahs and the Rose Valley. The tour is less tiring than the previous ones because it is carried out with a private car and above all with an extra day available. Given the considerable distances it is not insignificant and the whole trip is more enjoyable.

Day-by-Day Tour Itinerary

  • Day 1: Marrakech – Dadès Gorges. Departure from Marrakech by climbing the thousand bends of the Tizi n’Tichka pass at 2,260 meters above sea level with views of the Atlas range. Stop to see the picturesque kasbah of Ait Ben Haddou and continue to Taourirt and Ouarzazate where if you want you can visit the film studios or the Cinema Museum. Now it is time for the Rose Valley and the Amerhidil Kasbah near the village of Skoura. In the late afternoon you reach the Dades valley where you sleep in a simple but nice hotel.
  • Day 2: Gorges of Dadès – Merzouga, Erg Chebbi. Visit the Gorges du Dadès with a stop to taste mint tea, of the oasis of Tinghir and of the Gorges du Toudra, then continue to Merzouga. Now you leave your private ovehicle to get on the camel, start the camel ride through the dunes that takes you to the desert camp in the middle of the Erg Chebbi. Night in a Bedouin tent.
  • Day 3: Erg Chebbi, Merzouga – Ouarzazate. Sunrise in the desert, by camel through the dunes, return to Merzouga where your car and your driver await you; visit the village of Rissani, the Tafilalt Kasbah, the Tondra Palm Tree Grove oasis and the Moulay Ali Sherif mausoleum. Then depart towards Ouarzazate via Tazarine, Draa Valley and Agdz, upon arrival you can visit the Taourirt kasbah. Overnight in a kasbah riad near Ouarzazate.
  • Day 4: Ouarzazate – Marrakech. Last day of the tour is dedicated to the return journey along the 200 km that separates Ouarzazate from Marrakech passing again through the Tizi n’Tichka pass.
Tinghir Oasis, Morocco

Tinghir Oasis, Morocco

Photo Credit: Elade Manu

Everything You Need to Know

  • Desert area: Erg Chebbi.
  • Pick-up and drop-off: your hotel or riad in Marrakech, reconfirm the tour the day before with the local supplier in order to avoid any misunderstanding about the exact time and place (if the riad where you are staying is not reachable by car) of departure.
  • Duration of the tour: 3 nights/4 days, you leave Marrakech at around 8.30 on the 1st day and return to Marrakech by mid-afternoon on the 4th day.
  • Driver/Guide: English, German, Spanish, Italian, French or Arab speaking driver/guide, select the language during the booking process; the drivers of this company are usually very professional and helpful.
  • Features: the tour is carried out on a private basis with an exclusive car and driver/guide, you have the option to book a minivan, or with a small supplement a 4WD; the local supplier is the acclaimed Camel Safaries, one of the most serious and respected agencies in Marrakech; the tour requires a minimum of 2 participants, immediate confirmation at time of booking.
  • Price: includes transport, driver/guide, camel méharée in the desert accompanied by camel guides, half board (breakfast and dinner) and hotel accommodation for 3 nights of which 2 nights in simple but nice hotels and one night in a desert tented camp in the middle of the dunes. Lunches, drinks, the guide to Ait Ben Haddou and any entrances to the kasbahs/museums/attractions that you decide to visit along the way are excluded.
  • Pros: the great comfort of the vehicle and private guide; the difference compared to the 3-day tours is that the interminable return journey is broken by inserting a night in the Ouarzazate area.
  • Cons: none, except for the cost, not excessive (if you consider the duration of the tour) but clearly much higher than group tours that last one night/one day less.
  • Recommended: if you want to reach the desert with a tour that, while not providing luxuries of any kind, is certainly more comfortable than the fast basic tours; if along the way you want to make stops to visit what interests you most and enjoy everything at your own pace, which is impossible to do with shared group tours.
  • The short private option in just 3 days: I do not recommend it, but if you don’t have time and still want to see the desert going to and from Marrakech with a private car, the tour bookable with GetYourGuide | Merzouga Desert: 3-Day Desert Tour from Marrakech could be a solution; consider that the costs are much lower than the 4-day tour, not only because there is one night and one day less, but also because the level of services of this tour organized by Click Excursion is lower than the Camel Safaries tour.
  • Video: Marrakech, Ait Ben Haddou, the Dadès Gorges and the camel ride in the Erg Chebbi dunes in Merzouga in these images by Traveling and Dreaming:

Marrakech to Fez Desert Tour: 4-Days Private Tour by 4WD from Marrakech to Fez via Erg Chebbi

A really cool desert tour. And also very well studied. It combines in a single one-way trip the two most beautiful and richest cities in Morocco, Marrakech and Fez, with the in-depth exploration of the Erg Chebbi dunes in Merzouga. This tour has two particularities. The first one: from Merzouga to reach Fez requires a shorter distance than returning to Marrakech, this is the logic of continuing on Fez once you have seen the desert. The second: unlike all the other tours, you stay a whole day from morning to evening in the Erg Chebbi area, that is, you have a day off with visits to the area without having to deal with long journeys by car. Consider that to be a private tour, which lasts 4 days, and which leaves you in Fez at the end, the tour has an absolutely not excessive cost.

Day-by-Day Tour Itinerary

  • Day 1: Marrakech – Dadès Gorges. The program of the first day is the same as the previous tours. Departure from Marrakech, passing the Tizi n’Tichka with great views of the Atlas range and first real stop to visit the fortified village of Ait Ben Haddou. Then continue to Tourirt, Ouarzazate, the Rose valley and the Amerhidil kasbah near Skoura. In the late afternoon you reach the Dades valley where you sleep at a comfortable hotel, usually the scenic La Kasbah De Dades.
  • Day 2: Dadès Gorges – Merzouga, Erg Chebbi. On the way to Merzouga you visit the Dadès Gorges, admire the Tinghir oasis and the Gorges du Toudra, here you usually take a walk along the river in the middle of the gorge. Continue to Merzouga via Rissani, a greeting to the driver and you start the camel ride to reach the desert camp in the middle of the dunes. Night in a tent in the heart of Erg Chebbi, a drum show is usually performed during dinner.
  • Day 3: Merzouga. At dawn, free walk on the dunes, breakfast and again méharée by camel to return to Merzouga. The day continues quietly, always near Erg Chebbi, where you can take a shower and then visit the nearby villages of Khamlia and Rissani, known for its market. In the afternoon, a 4WD ride is usually done again inside Erg Chebbi before reaching the hotel in Merzouga, located on the edge of the desert. If you want, you can take a last walk on your own to the nearby dunes.
  • Day 4: Merzouga – Fez. Last day dedicated to covering the 470 km that separate Merzouga from Fez. The route runs along the Ziz valley and the picturesque Midelt Gorge, where a stop for lunch is scheduled. In the afternoon continue to Azrou with its extensive cedar woods and Iran where the last stop is made before reaching Fez.
Erg Chebbi from Merzouga, Sahara Desert, Morocco

Erg Chebbi from Merzouga, Sahara Desert, Morocco

Photo Credit: Tadd and Debbie Ottman

Everything You Need to Know

  • Desert area: Erg Chebbi.
  • Pick-up and drop-off: departure from your hotel/riad in Marrakech with arrival at your hotel/riad in Fez, if the accommodation is in the middle of the Medina the driver will reach the closest point that can be reached by car; reconfirm the tour the day before with the exact pick-up time and point in order to avoid misunderstanding and unnecessary waste of time.
  • Duration of the tour: 3 nights/4 days, departure is scheduled from Marrakech around 8 am on the 1st day, ending at your hotel/riad in Fez between late afternoon and evening on the 4th day.
  • Driver/Guide: French, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Japanese and English speaking driver/guide, select the language during the booking process; the drivers of this company are usually very professional and helpful.
  • Features: one-way tour carried out on a private basis with an exclusive car and driver/guide, the transport usually takes place aboard a 4WD; as for the previous tour, the local supplier is the excellent Camel Safaries; a minimum of 2 participants is required.
  • Price: includes transport by private 4WD from Marrakech to Fez with driver/guide, camel méharée in the desert accompanied by camel guides, half board (breakfast and dinner) and hotel accommodation for 1 night in a hotel in the Dadès Valley, 1 night in a tent in the desert camp and 1 night in a hotel in Merzouga at the edge of the dunes. Lunches and drinks are excluded (except for water during dinner in the desert which is included), the guide to Ait Ben Haddou and any entrances to the kasbahs/museums/attractions that you decide to visit along the way.
  • Pros: the private vehicle and guide allow you to stop where you want and visit what interests you most; after having slept one night in a tent in the dunes, the next night is spent near Erg Chebbi but in a hotel, that it is more comfortable and convenient to get off the sand and wash properly; unlike all the itineraries that reach the desert going and returning to Marrakech where for the most part the road is identical both to the outward and return journey, this is instead a one-way itinerary, i.e. you never retrace your steps and every meter of road is a discovery with new landscapes coming in front of your eyes.
  • Cons: if the first three days are perfect, this is not the case for the last day, spent practically always traveling to cover the 470 km that separate Merzouga from Fez.
  • Good to know: there are no guided visits to Marrakech or Fez, the tour takes you from the first to the second passing through the desert, to visit the two cities you must spend at least 2 initial pre-tour nights in Marrakech and 2 final post-tour nights in Fez by booking them yourself directly at the hotel or riad you prefer; inserting 2 nights before and 2 nights after is also convenient not only for visits but to reconfirm the last details of the pick-up on site the day before departure in Marrakech and once you reach Fez to absorb the last long day into the car at the end of the tour.
  • Recommended: if you want to see both Marrakech and Fez and don’t want to miss the desert, then there is no better tour than this one.
  • The reverse journey, from Fez to Marrakech in just 2 nights/3 days: it is a much more tiring tour, but if you are tight with the times, you are in Fez, you want to go to Marrakech and you also want to take a look at the desert then the tour Viator | 3 Days 2 Nights Sahara Desert From Fez to Marrakech could be useful; the actual service provider is always the excellent Camel Safaries.
  • Video: Erg Chebbi dunes in Merzouga in these images by Amazing Places on Our Planet:

At the Edge of the Sahara Desert: Private 3-Days Tour by 4WD from Marrakech to Remote Erg Chegaga 

The destination is a distant desert: the spectacular and seemingly infinite expanse of dunes of the remote Erg Chegaga, the largest dune field in Morocco, 9 hours drive south-east of Marrakech near the village of M’Hamid and immediately close to the border with Algeria. The place has long been inaccessible due to border disputes with the neighbor, and it is only since the early 1990s that travelers have begun to frequent it. And, if it is true that at Erg Chebbi the dunes are higher, Chegaga instead wins for the atmosphere: getting there is half the fun, in M’Hamid the asphalt ends and the off-road vehicle becomes fundamental. At least 2 hours of off-road driving are needed to cover the 60 km of track that leads to the Erg Chegaga crossing the hamada, the flat and desolate expanse of rocks and stones that precedes the beginning of the sands. Little by little the few trees disappear, meter by meter the ground becomes sandier, the first dunes appear, which get bigger and bigger as you go. The route is exciting and introduces the vastness of the erg. It is here in Chegaga, more than in other places in Morocco, that you really feel far from the world, in the middle of the wilderness. By far the most exotic and Saharan itinerary of all the Morocco desert tours presented in this post.

Day-by-Day Tour Itinerary

  • Day 1: Marrakech – M’hamid. Departure towards Ouarzazate, first crossing the Tizi n’Tichka pass and passing near the fortified village of Ait Ben Haddou. After a stop for lunch in Agdz, in the early afternoon continue in a south-easterly direction entering the Draa valley and passing by the Ksar of Tamnougalt, by the small town of Zagora and stopping to visit the village of Tamegroute. Kilometer after kilometer the landscape becomes more exotic. In the late afternoon, reach the village of M’hamid, the last outpost before the desert, night in a guest house.
  • Day 2: M’hamid – Erg Chegaga. In the morning, enjoy a camel ride in the palm grove of M’hamid and then in the afternoon start the off-road route towards Erg Chegaga. In fact, it is in M’hamid that the road ends and you leave the asphalt permanently, from here with a fascinating 4-hour off-road trip along a sandy track you reach Erg Chegaga, the largest dune field in the region. Night at the tented camp located in the heart of the dunes in the middle of the desert.
  • Day 3: Erg Chegaga – Marrakech. The long return to Marrakech begins but the surprises are not over. For the entire first part you follow a different itinerary than the outward journey. Traveling off-road between sand and rocks from Erg Chegaga you head in the direction of Foum Zguid following the suggestive track traveled several times by the Paris-Dakar and along the white salty surface now dried up of Lac Iric. In Foum Zguid you find the asphalt that takes you to Zaznakht where a stop for lunch is usually scheduled. The small town is famous for its cooperatives of carpet manufacturers, if you wish and are interested you can stop and visit one. In the early afternoon, continue North until you intercept the main road that brings you to Ait Ben Haddou and Marrakech.
Dunes near Mhamid on the way to Erg Chegaga, Sahara Desert, Morocco

Dunes near Mhamid on the way to Erg Chegaga, Sahara Desert, Morocco

Photo Credit: Richard Allaway

Everything You Need to Know

  • Desert area: Erg Chegaga.
  • Pick-up and drop-off: your hotel or riad in Marrakech, reconfirm the tour the previous day in order to avoid any misunderstanding about the exact meeting point and time.
  • Duration of the tour: 2 nights/3 days, departure is scheduled from Marrakech around 7 am on the 1st day with return to Marrakech around 6.30pm/7pm on the 3rd day.
  • Driver/Guide: English, Spanish and French speaking driver/guide; camel guides generally speak French plus a very few words of English.
  • Features: the tour is carried out on a private basis with 4WD (the off-road vehicle is really necessary here) and exclusive driver/guide; with a minimum of 2 participants and booking at least 7 days in advance, confirmation is immediate upon booking.
  • Price: includes transport by off-road vehicle, driver/guide, 1 night in a guest house in M’hamid and 1 night in a tent in the Erg Chegaga tented camp, with already included 2 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 2 dinners and a camel ride. It does not include tips for driver and guides and any visits to kasbahs along the way.
  • Pros: full board already included in the price of the tour; Erg Chegaga is much less known and visited than Erg Chebbi and the vastness of the landscapes makes the place solemn; moreover, no confusion and no crowding, unlike the Merzouga desert where camps are numerous in Erg Chegaga the tented camps are few and far more distant from each other; in Chegaga drums and entertainment are very low profile, usually the evening reigns silence.
  • Cons: the tour is done in just 3 days, it would have deserved an extra day, perhaps adding an additional night on the way back to make the long journey back to Marrakech lighter.
  • Good to know: both on the way out and on the way back, you pass near the fortified village of Ait Ben Haddou, a UNESCO heritage site and sets of famous films, from Lawrence of Arabia to Jesus of Nazareth, from The Tea in the Desert to Gladiator; ask the guide to make a short stop to at least have a look at the village.
  • Recommended: if you are looking for solitude and a bit of a true Saharan experience; not only the approach path to Chegaga is fascinating but also magnificent is the first part of the off-road route of the last day between sand, salt lakes and magnificent rock formations in an area of Morocco little visited by tourists.
  • Video: the sands of Erg Chegaga shot from above in the images by Pistenkuh:

Important!

  • Before booking read the full description of the tour you like in the official page of Viator and GetYourGuide carefully, please check what is included and what is not, meeting points, times of departure and cancellation policies. 
  • After booking, if you have any queries or doubts, immediately contact Viator or GetYourGuide Customer Service in order to receive assistance.
  • And the day before the tour, please reconfirm the pick-up time with the local supplier. You receive phone and email from the local supplier of the tour immediately after your booking. Maybe your hotel can help.  
  • Read the reviews. If the majority of the reviews are positive that’s a good thing. And always check all the info you read here in the official page of each tour, things change and the official site provides the latest updates.

Last Update: April 5th 2022

 

Creative Commons 2.0 GenericFront cover photo credit: Erg Chebbi Dunes, Merzouga, Morocco by Scott Presly. Photos come from Flickr: Creative Commons Attribution Licensed Photos. Please read here the Summary of the Legal Code. Terms of license are valid at the time of publishing this post.