You can’t leave Marrakech without visiting the beautiful Sahara desert. We did it with Marrakech Camel Trips, a company we met through Tamlalt Tours, and we were very happy with the experience. We chose the 3-day desert tour from Marrakech because it was the most convenient for us: after the desert we wanted to go up north and they take care of dropping you off in the other city. In theory the tour left us in Fez but it was more convenient for us to finish in Meknes and they didn’t put us any problem. Both the boss, Brahim, and our driver Saïd, behaved very well and made us feel at home.
In this post we will explain you our experience with the company and everything we did in this 3 days excursion to the desert. We also propose you a lot of activities to do in Marrakech in case you are planning a visit to the city.
3 day Desert tour from Marrakech
DAY 1: Pick up at the riad, Aït Ben Haddou and sleep in the Dades Gorges
We started the day very early. At 8:00 am Saïd was waiting for us at the door of our riad in Marrakech. Cars cannot access the Medina, so he parked outside, came to pick us up and took us to the car that would be our second home during these three days.
The first day was an appetizer of the trip. You have to be aware that you have to spend many hours in the car to enjoy some of the wonders of Morocco. In the end, despite being one of the most advanced countries in Africa, it does not have the same road infrastructure that we have in Europe. So you have to spend hours and hours on endless national roads, although those hours can be a great opportunity to chat with the driver and learn many things about the country.
The first (technical) stop was to rest and buy argan oil, a treasure in Morocco. But the interesting part came later. After about five hours drive from Marrakech we got off at the beautiful Kasbah of Aït Ben Haddou, one of the best attractions in Morocco. Important movies like Gladiator were filmed there. Saïd left us for a couple of hours: a little while to eat and another to discover its beauty. It was undoubtedly the highlight of the day. Standing in front of that clay village was worth all the hours we spent in the car.
We then headed to Ouarzazate, the African Hollywood. As Saïd told us, the largest film studio in Africa is located there, and there is even a palace built on purpose to film a season of Game of Thrones! The reason is quite simple: filming movies in Morocco is much more cost-effective than filming in the United States. And you may ask yourself, how are the United States and Morocco similar? Well, the truth is that Arizona and that part of the African country are almost identical. So it was curious to know in Ouarzazate this cinematographic side of Morocco, even the traffic circles of the city are decorated with things related to cinema!
And after a couple more hours by car we arrived at the Dades Gorges, where we could rest in a hotel with incredible views. Undoubtedly, there was no better way to regain strength. We were welcomed like at home: with a delicious mint tea and typical Moroccan pastries. At the hotel there was time to have dinner, rest and get ready for the main day of the tour: we reached the desert!
DAY 2: Todra Valley, Todra Gorges and night in the Desert
If the first day was spectacular, the second day was perhaps the best of our 12-day trip in Morocco. We started in the beautiful Todra Valley. The scenery is simply spectacular. Saïd stopped at a viewpoint and left us several minutes to enjoy its beauty. We loved the contrast between the green of the palm trees and the reddish color of the sand.
Then we visit the beautiful Todra Gorges, one of the most spectacular rocky canyons in the world. It has cliffs of more than 100 meters on each side of the river, and some brave people dare to climb them. It is a fairly common destination because there are several interesting hiking trails, although we did not have time for it, we were going to the desert!
And so it was… after hours and hours in the car, we arrived in Merzouga! First we settled in a hotel. It was the first time we checked into a hotel where we would not end up sleeping. The desert awaited us! Who did sleep there were our suitcases. We packed everything we needed to spend the night in the desert in a backpack and got on camels, which took us to our camp in the desert.
The camel ride at sunset was spectacular. We have been to several deserts: in Qatar, in Abu Dhabi, but none is as beautiful as the Sahara. The color of the sand is spectacular, different from those we had seen, and even more so when the sun goes down. Once at night, the magic began. We shared tea with other clients and had dinner. Then we danced and sang under the moonlight, and although the day was quite overcast, we were able to enjoy the stars.
DAY 3: Spectacular sunrise and return to Meknes
The feeling of sleeping in the desert was spectacular. You feel so free and vulnerable at the same time… The truth is that the night was quite busy. It blew a lot of wind and the tent moved a lot, although we were able to sleep perfectly. We got up at 6:00 am to see the sunrise. It was an incredible experience.
Then we got back on the camel and returned to the hotel to pick up our bags, take a shower, and get ready for the long journey to Meknes. It was nothing less than 9 hours of driving. Tiring, yes, but a perfect time to remember how much fun we had these days. Undoubtedly, if you visit Marrakech, you can not miss this tour.