Morocco desert tours — 4 unique itineraries

When it comes to breathtaking, soul-stirring travel experiences, few places on Earth can match the sheer wonder of Morocco's vast deserts. From the ethereal golden dunes of Merzouga to the rugged beauty of Erg Chigaga, this North African gem beckons explorers far and wide. In this guide, we’ll cover how to plan the perfect Morocco desert tour.

How to plan a perfect Morocco desert tour

Planning a perfect Morocco desert tour requires careful consideration and attention to detail. 

Decide if you want to stay in hotels, traditional riads, or desert camps. Make reservations in advance to secure your accommodations, especially during peak tourist seasons.

Determine the mode of transportation for your tour. Many desert tours include travel by 4x4 vehicles or camel treks. Ensure that your transportation is comfortable and safe.

You can skip the hassle of planning and booking and instead let our Morocco local travel experts handle the details.

Ait Benhaddou fortified city in Morocco  © Shutterstock

Ait Benhaddou fortified city in Morocco  © Shutterstock

Which desert to visit in Morocco?

Morocco boasts an array of enchanting desert destinations, each with its own distinct allure. Let's take a closer look at the top four picks:

Merzouga: for the classic Sahara experience

Merzouga, home to the towering Erg Chebbi dunes, is the quintessential Sahara adventure. Here, you can ride camels through the undulating desert, witness awe-inspiring sunsets and sunrises, and experience traditional Berber hospitality in cosy desert camps.

Erg Chigaga: for off-the-beaten trek

For those seeking a more remote and wild adventure, Erg Chigaga is a hidden gem. Its expansive dunes are perfect for sandboarding and thrilling 4x4 escapades, all in the serenity of a less-travelled desert.

Zagora: for the most accessible Morocco desert tours

Zagora, closer to Marrakech, offers a more accessible desert experience. Enjoy shorter camel rides, visit ancient kasbahs, and soak up the local culture in a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere.

Agafay: for a moon-like landscape

Agafay, near Marrakech, boasts a rocky desert terrain that contrasts dramatically with the sandy dunes. Explore this lunar-like landscape on quad bikes or unwind in luxury desert lodges for a unique desert adventure.

Make going to the desert easy with our completely customisable Morocco itineraries.

Merzouga, Morocco © Shutterstock

Merzouga, Morocco © Shutterstock

Unique things to do in the Moroccan desert

A journey through Morocco's deserts is not just about the destination; it's about the extraordinary experiences along the way. Here are some things to do during your Morocco desert tour.

Go stargazing

Morocco's desert nights unveil a celestial spectacle like no other. Gaze up at the crystal-clear skies and be mesmerized by constellations, planets, and shooting stars. This is one of the best things to do in Morocco.

Attend a Berber music and dance performance

Immerse yourself in Morocco's cultural tapestry by attending a lively Berber music and dance performance in a desert camp. It's an authentic and spirited way to connect with local traditions.

Sahara Desert landscape scene, showing a tourist campsite location set up among the dunes in Morocco © Shutterstock

Sahara Desert landscape scene in Morocco © Shutterstock

Take a 4x4 off-road adventure

Get your adrenaline pumping by embarking on a thrilling 4x4 off-road adventure. Navigate the rugged desert terrain, conquer sand dunes, and uncover hidden oases in a heart-pounding expedition.

Spend a night in a desert camp

For an authentic desert experience, spend a night in a desert camp. Rest in traditional Berber tents beneath a blanket of stars, relish delicious local cuisine, and immerse yourself in the tranquil desert night.

Join a Camel Trekking tour

Embark on a camel trek, the time-honored mode of desert exploration. Traverse the dunes and experience the serene beauty of the desert, just as the Berbers have done for centuries.

Meet the Bedouins

Engage with local Bedouin communities to gain insights into their way of life. Share stories, discover their customs, and appreciate the resilience of these desert-dwelling communities.

Tuareg nomads camel in Sahara desert, Morocco © Shutterstock

Camel trekking in Sahara desert, Morocco © Shutterstock

Must-see places in the Moroccan desert

As you venture through Morocco's deserts, make sure to explore these captivating places:

The ancient kasbahs

Wander through the ancient kasbahs, such as Ait Benhaddou, to witness the rich history and architectural marvels of the desert. These UNESCO World Heritage Sites offer a glimpse into Morocco's fascinating past.

Erg Chebbi dunes

The towering Erg Chebbi dunes in Merzouga create an epic backdrop for your desert adventure. The golden sands will leave you in awe.

Draa Valley

Discover the lush Draa Valley, renowned for its palm groves, ancient ksars (fortified villages), and meandering river. It's a striking contrast to the desert landscapes, brimming with natural beauty.

Ouarzazate: The Hollywood of Morocco

Known as the "Hollywood of Morocco," Ouarzazate is a captivating desert city. Explore the Atlas Film Studios and Taourirt Kasbah, delving into its cinematic history and unique architecture.

Todra Gorge

Situated in the High Atlas Mountains, Todra Gorge is a mesmerising canyon with towering cliffs. Hike through this natural wonder and be enchanted by its breathtaking beauty.

Majorelle garden in Morocco © Sergiy Borakovskyy/Shutterstock

Majorelle garden in Morocco © Sergiy Borakovskyy/Shutterstock

Tour #1: Deserts & Marrakech

Discover the essence of Morocco with this 5-day desert & Marrakech tour designed for travel enthusiasts. In Marrakech, enjoy a variety of culinary delights and participate in a cooking class at a non-profit organization. Then, embark on an unforgettable journey to the desert, where you'll spend a night at a desert camp.

Planning a trip to Marrakech? Start preparing for your trip with our guide to the best accommodation options in Marrakech.

Itinerary overview

This 5-day trip to Marrakech and the High Atlas Mountains includes exploring Marrakech's old city, sampling local cuisine, and visiting the Majorelle Gardens. You’ll also go on a scenic journey to the Atlas Mountains with activities like camel riding, all culminating in a departure from Marrakech.

Walking in Morocco desert  © Breslavtsev Oleg/Shutterstock

Walking in Morocco desert © Shutterstock

Here is our suggested 5-day Morocco desert tour:

Day 1

  • Arrival to Marrakech
  • Transfer to your hotel

Day 2

  • Morning guided walking tour of Marrakech
  • Exploration of the old city with a guide
  • Afternoon at leisure
  • Taste of Marrakech food tour 
  • Visit to the souks and local spice market

Day 3

  • Morning cooking class at a non-profit organization
  • Afternoon walk around the Ouirgane Gardens

Day 4

  • Morning departure from Marrakech to the High Atlas Mountains
  • Exploration of the Moulay Brahim valley and Berber villages
  • View of the Lalla Takerkoust dam
  • Tea tasting
  • Off-road journey through the mountains with incredible views of Ouirgane Valley

Day 5

  • Morning camel ride to admire the landscape at sunrise
  • Departure from Marrakech airport (less than 1 hour away)
Chefchaouen city square, Morocco © Shutterstock

Chefchaouen city square, Morocco © Shutterstock

Tour #2: Moroccan cities and ultimate Sahara

f you're pressed for time, this 10-day tour of Moroccan cities and Sahara takes a spin on the classic Morocco itinerary. Embark on a desert journey that retraces the path of Humphrey Bogart, starting in Casablanca, exploring the enchanting blue and white streets of Chefchaouen, and progressing to Fez. Experience an opulent night in a desert camp before venturing onward to Marrakech.

Itinerary overview

A comprehensive Moroccan journey spanning from Casablanca to Marrakech, including visits to iconic cities and sites like Rabat, Chefchaouen, Fez, Meknes, Volubilis, Merzouga, and Marrakech. 

The itinerary covers cultural and historical explorations and desert adventures. It concludes with sightseeing in Marrakech before departing from either Marrakech or Casablanca.

Caravan in Morocco © Shutterstock

Caravan in Morocco © Shutterstock

Here is our suggested 10-day Morocco desert tour:

Day 1

  • Arrival in Casablanca
  • Check-in and leisure time in the evening
  • Overnight in Casablanca

Day 2

  • Morning visit to the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca
  • Tour of Rabat, the capital of Morocco
  • Exploration of Oudaia Kasbah, Mausoleum of Mohamed V, Hassan Tower, and Chellah Necropolis
  • Check-in and overnight stay in Chefchaouen

Day 3

  • Exploration of Chefchaouen, known for its blue and whitewashed buildings
  • Visiting the "Spanish" mosque and Ras el-Ma
  • Free time for shopping and relaxing in the medina
  • Overnight in Chefchaouen

Day 4

  • Morning departure to Fez
  • Fez el-Bali (Old Fez) exploration
  • Visit to the Karaouine, Nejjarine Square, Royal Palace, and more
  • Overnight in Fez

Day 5

  • Day trip to Meknes and Volubilis
  • Exploration of the Roman Ruins of Volubilis and Meknes
  • Overnight in Fez

Day 6

  • Departure to Merzouga
  • Crossing the Middle Atlas mountains and exploration of the Ziz Valley Oasis
  • Reaching Merzouga and the Erg Chebbi dunes
  • Dinner and campfire at Sahara desert
  • Overnight stay in a luxury desert camp

Day 6

  • Exploration of the Merzouga area
  • Overnight in a luxury desert camp

Day 7

  • Sunrise Sahara Dunes photographic session
  • Camel caravan journey with Berber guides
  • Picnic lunch in the desert
  • Afternoon activities or trip to Dayet Sirji Lake or Rissani
  • Evening campfire with music and entertainment

Day 8

  • Departure from the desert heading towards the Sarhro volcanic mountains
  • Exploration of Nekob, Draa Valley, and Agdz
  • Stop at Ksar of Ait BenHaddou
  • Crossing the High Atlas Mountains
  • Check-in and overnight stay in Marrakech

Day 9

  • Exploration of Marrakech
  • Visit to the Medina, Bahia Palace, Koutoubia Minaret, and Djemaa el-Fna square
  • Overnight stay in Marrakech

Day 10

  • Departure from Marrakech or Casablanca airport
Hassan mosque, Casablanca © posztos/Shutterstock

Hassan mosque, Casablanca © posztos/Shutterstock

Tour #3: Highlights of Morocco

If you're pressed for time, this 8-day offers a compact yet captivating way to experience the best of Morocco in just over a week. From the cultural wonders of Fez to the scenic beauty of Chefchaouen, a night in a luxurious desert tent, and the exploration of Marrakech, it's your opportunity to embark on a desert adventure through Morocco!

Itinerary overview

This itinerary is a multi-day journey through Morocco, starting in Casablanca and ending in Marrakech. On this trip, you’ll explore Fez, visit the blue city of Chefchaouen, and experience the Sahara Desert with a luxury desert camp stay. The trip concludes with a guided tour of Marrakech before departing from Casablanca.

Ouarzazate Atlas Film studios in Morocco © Shutterstock

Ouarzazate Atlas Film studios in Morocco © Shutterstock

Here is our suggested 8-day Morocco desert tour:

Day 1

  • Arrival in Casablanca
  • Transfer to your riad in Fez

Day 2

  • Exploration of Fez, the cultural capital of Morocco
  • Guided walking tour

Day 3

  • Day trip to Chefchaouen
  • Departure from the hotel to Chefchaouen
  • Exploration of the blue and whitewashed town
  • Visiting the "Spanish" Mosque and Ras el-Ma

Day 4

  • Departure to Merzouga via Midelt
  • Crossing the Middle Atlas mountains
  • Breathtaking views of the diverse landscapes, including cedar-clad mountains
  • Reaching the Merzouga sand dunes
  • Dinner and campfire beneath the starry sky
  • Overnight stay in a luxury desert camp

Day 5

  • Sunrise photography in the Sahara Dunes
  • Camel caravan journey
  • Picnic lunch in the desert
  • Heading to Draa Valley, known for its oases
  • Afternoon arrival in Oulled Mellouk

Day 6

  • Departure from Oulled Mellouk to Marrakech
  • Passing through the Sahro volcanic mountains
  • Visiting Kasbahs, mud-brick villages, and fertile valleys
  • Arrival in Ait Ben Haddou, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Crossing the High Atlas Mountains
  • Arrival in Marrakech

Day 7

  • Guided walking tour of Marrakech
  • Exploration of the medina, souks, and major landmarks

Day 8

  • Departure from Marrakech for Casablanca airport
Koutoubia mosque in Marrakech, Morocco © Migel/Shutterstock

Koutoubia mosque in Marrakech, Morocco © Migel/Shutterstock

Desert tour #4: Marrakech, High Atlas and the Agafay desert

Embark on an exhilarating 6-day High Atlas and Ahafay desert adventure from the captivating city of Marrakech, traversing valleys and venturing into the vast desert. This tour is tailored for those seeking a quick but immersive Morocco experience, eliminating long drives for a more compact exploration.

Itinerary overview

This 6-day Moroccan adventure begins in Marrakech and concludes in either Marrakech or Casablanca. It covers diverse experiences such as a guided city exploration, a small group food tour, a journey to the High Atlas Mountains and the Agafay desert, camel treks, and visits to unique sites like Erg Chigaga and a carpet cooperative in Taznakht.

Marrakech Djema El Fna square © Shutterstock

Marrakech Djema El Fna square © Shutterstock

Here is our suggested 6-day Morocco desert tour:

Day 1

  • Arrival in Marrakech
  • Transfer to riad

Day 2

  • Guided walking tour of Marrakech
  • Exploration of the medina, Koutoubia Minaret, and Djema El Fna square
  • Taste of Marrakech food tour
  • Discovering the hidden food shops
  • Delicacies tasting in the souks
  • Visit to the local spice market

Day 3

  • Departure from Marrakech to the High Atlas Mountains
  • Visiting the Moulay Brahim valley and Lalla Takerkoust dam
  • Travel through the mountains with stunning views of the Ouirgane Valley
  • Arrival in Agafay
  • Overnight stay in luxurious tents 

Day 4

  • Morning tour of palm groves
  • Trip to the desert, passing through Zagora and Tamengroute
  • Continue to M’hamid and head off-road to Erg Chigaga
  • Camel trek in the desert

Day 5

  • Sunrise watching in Erg Chigaga
  • Road trip to Marrakech via off-road routes and scenic landscapes
  • Visiting the carpet cooperative in Taznakht
  • Crossing the High Atlas to Marrakech

Day 6

  • Departure from Marrakech or Casablanca airport
Fez tanneries, Morocco © Shutterstock

Tanneries in Fez, Morocco © Shutterstock

Best time for a Morocco desert tour

When planning your Morocco desert tour, timing is crucial.

The best time to visit the desert is during the spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) when the weather is mild. Summers can be scorching, while winters can get quite chilly, so consider these seasons when planning your trip.

Safety tips for visiting a desert 

Visiting a desert can be an extraordinary experience, but it's essential to stay safe. Here are some key safety tips:

  1. Hydrate properly: Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, especially in the desert heat. Carry enough water with you at all times.
  2. Dress appropriately: Wear loose, breathable clothing that provides protection from the sun. Don't forget a wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen.
  3. Respect the wildlife: Observe wildlife from a distance and avoid disturbing or feeding animals. Some desert creatures may be venomous, so be cautious.
  4. Stay informed: Check weather conditions and let someone know your plans and expected return time when heading into remote desert areas.
  5. Don't forget about navigation: Carry a map, GPS device, or compass, and know how to use them to avoid getting lost.
  6. Bring a first aid kit: Have a basic first aid kit on hand to address minor injuries.

Get even more useful information for your trip with our Morocco travel tips.

BenHaddou, Morocco © Shutterstock

Ait Benhaddou fortified city in Morocco  © Shutterstock

Getting to & around the Moroccan Desert

Getting to and around the Moroccan desert can be an adventure in itself. Here are some options:

  • Air Travel: Arrive in Morocco via international airports in cities like Marrakech and Casablanca. From there, you can take domestic flights or buses to desert destinations.
  • Buses: Morocco's extensive bus network connects major cities to desert regions. These buses are a budget-friendly way to travel.
  • Private Transfers: Arrange for private transfers with local tour operators, especially when heading to more remote desert areas.
  • Camel and 4x4 Tours: Once in the desert, explore on camelback or with guided 4x4 tours. Local guides offer a unique and informative experience.
  • Renting a Car: If you're comfortable with it, renting a car gives you the freedom to explore at your own pace.

See Morocco without the hassle of researching

Discover the beauty of Morocco with the guidance of Morocco local travel experts. They will handle every detail of the planning and booking for your adventure.

For more travel inspiration get yourself The Rough Guide to Morocco and check our list of the best things to do in Morocco.

Whenever you're ready to set off on your journey, explore our Morocco itineraries for inspiration, knowing that each one can be adjusted to meet your specific preferences.

Dry plant in desert lake Rrg Chebbi, Morocco © Shutterstock

Dry plant in desert lake Rrg Chebbi, Morocco © Shutterstock

Dre Roelandt

written by
Dre Roelandt

updated 20.05.2024

Dre Roelandt is originally from the United States but lives and works in Berlin, Germany. Dre is a freelance writer and artist with a passion for travelling. They are an in-house Content Editor at Rough Guides.

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