One of the most memorable trips I’ve ever been on was to the Sahara Desert in Morocco. Travelling from Marrakech, we went on a 3 day tour that took a small group of us through the High Atlas Mountains, the Draa River Valley to visit a bunch of interesting traditional Berber villages and towns, and to the Merzouga desert, where we stayed overnight.
There’s a bunch of places to book tours from Marrakech, but we decided to book ours online through Viatour, which is owned by TripAdvisor (I’m not sponsored by them in any way). Since scams were plentiful in Morrocco if you don’t do your research, we thought it was easiest to book directly from a reputable company.
I’m usually not the one to go on tours, since I like exploring places on my own and in my own pace, but Morocco felt like a country that you can easily get lost in if you’re not a local. Some rent a car and drive into the desert themselves, but Moroccan roads can be confusing especially with everything in a foreign language.
Plus, you really have to be prepared for the unexpected!
On our tour, we once got pulled over by a cop and our driver was ordered to change one of our tires, even though there was nothing wrong with it. An hour later, after lots of talking back and forth, a trip to a small tire shop, and some money being given to the cop, we were finally able to drive on. I definitely wouldn’t have wanted to experience that on my own!
Anyway, the tour was a really fun way of meeting both other travellers and locals. While it’s called a Sahara Desert tour, you only really spend an evening, night and dawn there, although that’s all you really need to experience it. We went in late May (I know I’ve been pretty behind in my blog posts since moving to NYC! More updates coming soon!), so it was already pretty hot there. During the afternoons, the temperatures are in the mid 40s, which you definitely don’t want to be in the desert for.
Instead, the tour took us to lots of different villages and towns along the way, where we got to meet the local Berbers who showed us around.
We visited a shop where we got to see how Moroccan rugs are made, a farm where they grow their crops, an artist making a painting out of mint tea (check out my video on Instagram for that!), and the locations in Ouarazazate where they filmed movies like Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven.
On the first night, we stayed at a riad in Ait Sedrate Jbel El Soufla, where they prepared us a homemade Moroccan dinner, we all learned to play the Berber drums with the hotel owners.
When we finally got to the desert on the evening of the 2nd day, it was a pretty amazing experience to watch our surrounding landscape to all of a sudden turn into sand dunes. Before the sun started to set, we tied our scarfs over our heads and rode into the desert with our camels.
I named mine Fluffy. Here’s a pic of us!
After reaching our campsite, we got to play in the sand dunes and watch the sunset. It was pretty amazing.
Afterwards, we went back into our campsite, had dinner, and sat outside talking, stargazing (I’ve never seen so many stars before in my life!), and listening to drum music well into the night.
The next morning, we got back onto our camels and rode back to our van in the sunrise. After breakfast, everyone in our group made our way into our separate directions. A bunch of us shared a taxi for our long journey to Fez, others went back to Marrakech.
If you haven’t been out to the Sahara, I would definitely recommend it. I think I dreamed of camels for a week after that!
Have you guys been to Morocco or the Sahara? What did you love most about it?