where is the Sahara desert in Morocco

the Sahara desert in Morocco

Over the years, we have gotten many questions about planning a trip to the Sahara desert in Morocco. Below, find our most frequently asked questions and what we recommend to first-timers venturing into the Sahara. The best things to do and when to visit is our subject. 


How far is the Sahara from Marrakesh? From Fes

The distances between Marrakesh to Merzouga, a town close to the well-known Erg Chebbi dunes, are roughly 600 km (370 mi) and 360 km (225 mi), respectively. Zagora is closer to the Erg Chigaga dunes. The distances between Merzouga and Fez are 470 km (290 mi) and 670 km (415 mi), respectively. Don’t be misled by the mileage. Most of the drive is on rural roads and rudimentary, yet well-maintained, roadways that cross mountain passes. It will take at least eight to twelve hours of driving, one way, to go from Marrakesh or Fez to the Sahara. Make time for this in your schedule. Remember that there is a lot to see, see, and experience en route to the Sahara. We advise allocating a few extra days for your trip to the Sahara to slow down and take in all the cultural and wonderful landscapes you’ll inevitably encounter en route. 

Can I do a day trip to the Sahara Desert in Morocco?

The answer is yes, but probably not in the way you anticipate. Consider again before planning a day excursion from Marrakesh or Fez to the Sahara Desert in Morocco. In case it hasn’t been clear to you already, both cities are situated far, far away from the desert. It is impossible to reach the center of nowhere quickly! Traveling to the Sahara from either city takes at least a full day.

It is feasible to tour the Sahara Desert during the day without having to spend the night there, though, if you’re pressed for time or just don’t think sleeping beneath the stars is appealing. Selecting a place to stay that is within easy walking distance of the sand dunes can help you do that. Go someplace in Erfoud or Merzouga to discover Erg Chebbi. You should remain in the Zagora or Foum Zguid area if you wish to explore Erg Chigaga.

Should I spend one or two nights in the Sahara desert?

You won’t likely find another opportunity like spending a night under the stars in the Sahara Desert of Morocco. For this reason, if you have leisure, we advise staying in the desert for multiple nights. You will be able to spend two nights immersed in the customs of the surrounding tribes and take your time exploring the desert. Enjoy your evenings stargazing, dancing, and singing while your days are spent sandboarding and riding camels! It’s ideal to spend one night in a local desert town and another night in the tents outside on the dunes. For this reason, our site about Morocco’s Sahara desert offers personalized trips departing from Marrakech, Fes desert tours, and many others.

I can’t choose! Erg Chebbi or Erg Chigaga sand dunes?

When visiting the Sahara Desert in Morocco, tourists primarily visit the Erg Chebbi and Erg Chigaga dunes. So, everyone provides a unique experience. Standing at the base of the dunes in the popular town of Merzouga, the Erg Chebbi dunes are easier to reach as the most sought-after location. As a result, you may depart from your lodging and ride a camel into the enormous Sahara in about 30 minutes.

Travelers who want to venture off the usual road will find that the Erg Chigaga dunes provide a more thrilling experience. The greatest erg can be reached after a lengthier, bumpier walk of around two hours by 4×4 and a half-day camel ride over the rock-strewn desert, approximately 60 km from the closest town, M’hamid. Of course, getting there is more challenging, but that just adds to the allure of being so far away from the people.


What do I need to pack for visiting The Sahara desert in Morocco?

There are some essentials you can’t forget to pack for a desert adventure. These include:


  • A windbreaker or light jacket to survive the cooler nights;
  • Comfortable jeans or other pants to make sure your legs are protected from the camel’s rough fur; 
  • Appropriate shoes (sneakers, hiking boots, or sports sandals); 
  • A headscarf or hat to block the sun and dust; 
  • Chapstick and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun; 
  • A camera to bring home your wonderful desert memories; 
  • A lens, camera brush, and dustproof/waterproof bag to protect your camera from the sand; 
  • A flashlight to use at night at the campsite; 
  • An extra day or two of any medications you need. There are not too many pharmacies in the desert.

Visit the Sahara desert with your kids in Morocco:

Going on a desert trip shouldn’t be discouraged if you’re traveling with family! It’s just a matter of adding a few more considerations to your travel plan to ensure the smoothest possible trip through the Sahara:

  • Make sure you restock on SPF 80+ sunscreen before you leave. Every two hours, you should ferociously apply to the entire family,
    Bring hydration solution, sunglasses, chapstick, wide-brimmed hats, loose-fitting, colorful long-sleeve shirts, and chapstick.
  • Keep in mind that you will be behind the wheel for a long time. We suggest hiring a car or scheduling a private tour if your children aren’t used to spending long periods in the automobile so you can make quick stops as needed.
  • Verify that the air conditioning in the automobile is working properly. Heatstroke is more common in children under the age of twelve.
  • Little ones should always sit in the shady area of the automobile. Additionally, you should bring a long scarf or loose shirt to cover your windows from the sun,
    Even if the view changes dramatically, your kids may find a long vehicle ride uninteresting.
  • To keep kids happy, remember to bring some non-tech entertainment and wholesome snacks
  • The camels may especially frighten younger children. They tower beyond horses in height! If your child is too afraid to ride the camel, be sure you have a backup plan for getting to your campground.
  • Upon arrival at the campsite, you will be treated to a typical Moroccan feast of veggies and tagine chicken. If your children don’t have the most adventurous tastes, be sure to have one of their go-to simple meals on hand. Olive oil will be available at your camp, and dry spaghetti packs nicely. It’s normally pretty dark in the desert at night. Having a nightlight is useful.

How can i help the poor families in the Nomadic area:

Some of the harshest lives are led by the semi-nomadic tribes of the desert. It’s still difficult to get access to healthcare, education, and clean water. Giving 100Dh to 200Dh (about $10 to $20) is customary if you happen to visit a nomadic household, maybe even being invited in for tea. As alludes to, every penny helps. For the kids, you can also bring paper, pencils, and tiny toys. The Morocco Library Project and Association Aicha are two of the several non-profits active in this area. When you’re with a reliable guide, they can also be a great resource for advising you on the best course of action.

Should i book a Group tour or a private trip to the Sahara desert in Morocco?

Travel preferences and styles frequently influence the decision to travel solo vs as part of a scheduled trip. Traveling solo in Morocco is feasible if you have prior independent travel experience and know French or Arabic. Our travel guides can teach you the essentials, and public transportation can get you to almost any place in the nation.

A private trip will allow you to see Moroccan culture up close, engage with people daily, and have expert guides tell you about some of the best-kept secrets in the nation. A few of the private tours we provide to the Sahara Desert are listed below.

Does journey beyond travel organize trips to the Sahara desert?

Yes, we do! We have two circuits that you can customize. Each of these takes you into the Sahara Desert. Our 10-day Eclectic Morocco Tour will take you to some of Morocco’s Imperial Cities and includes a one-hour camel ride into the desert, a sunset over the Erg Chebbi dunes, and a night in a traditional Bedouin-style tent in the Sahara. We also organize a 10-day Erg Chigaga Tour which starts in Marrakesh and takes you to the less-touristed Erg Chigaga sand dunes for two nights. All of our tours and fully customizable and you can also contact us to create your very own private tour. 


If you have more questions about visiting the Sahara with Journey Beyond Travel send us a message.

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