From the time we decided to visit Morocco, I knew that there was no way to end this trip without a desert tour. So, I' m happy we eventually did it, since this trip wouldn't be the same if we hadn't slept under the stars, if we didn't play for hours with the sand, if we didn't ride camels while the sun was lost between the dunes...

Zagora vs Merzouga

What troubled me most was whether we were going to visit the desert of Zagora or that of Merzouga. Zagora is a desert in southern Morocco and between the above two is the one closest to the city of Marrakech. Although it is a desert, it is a dry stone desert that has some dunes but not those huge, impressive dunes that everyone is waiting for. These huge dunes of course can be found in Merzouga, which is closer to Fes. Due to its remoteness, all excursions to Merzouga have a duration of at least 3 days, while those to Zagorra, two days.

Although I wanted to visit Merzouga, to see the most impressive part of the desert, the fact that it is located about 600 km away from Marrakech (while Zagora 370 km) as well as the fact that I only had two days at my disposal made me to choose the desert Zagora tour.

How to Book a Desert Trip

There are hundreds of companies offering various types of excursions in the Moroccan desert. After a lot of research I ended up choosing Desert Morocco Adventure. The reason was the great reviews I have read about them at Tripadvisor and the excellent communication I had with Icho, the owner of the company, a young guy from a small desert village in southern Morocco.

Day 1

The phone rang at 7:30 in the morning and the driver informed us that he had just arrived. Two and a half hours later we reached the famous road Tizi N'Tichka. This road, which connects Marrakech with Ouarzazate, was built by the French in 1936 and its name means difficult path. It is an uphill road, quite narrow and with many (too many) turns.

A little further down, we made another stop and it was the first time in the 6 days we were in Morocco that we remembered that it was winter. We were in the High Atlas Mountain, at an altitude of 2,260 meters, with the temperature just above 0 degrees Celsium.

We arrived at Ouarzazate around noon. Ouarzazate is also known as the desert gate, since the desert starts from the south of the city. What the city boasts is that it is the Hollywood of Africa, since there are many cinema studios in the area where many famous films such as Laurens of Arabia, Gladiator and the popular Game of Thrones series have been shot.

Shortly before 15:00, we left Ouarzazate and continued our journey to the desert. We crossed the Draa valley, with the small beautiful oases that interrupted the monotonous desert landscape and we made a last stop in the huge palm forest that stretches for about 200 km.

The time was 17:00, which was more than 9 hours from the time we left Marrakech when the car stopped for the last time. We had now reached the Zagora desert. Our camels were waiting for us at the edge of the road to take us to our camp. We absolutely enjoyed the ride as well as the beautiful sunset. The sun had begun to set and the sky was painted in beautiful orange shades.

We spent the night exploring the dunes around our camp, eating an extraordinary tajine with chicken and vegetables, while after dinner we sat around the fire where the locals were playing berber music, staring at the stars. And these stars, in the middle of nowhere, without the glow of electricity to steal their glory, were the most impressive and beautiful stars I've ever seen in my life.

Day 2

Despite the last day's fatigue, there was no chance of losing the opportunity to enjoy the sun rising between the dunes. So at 6:30 the alarm clock woke us up.

Hundends of photos later, we went back to the camels to take a final ride in the Zagora desert before we returned back to the car.

We stopped once again in the city of Ouarzazate, which we had the opportunity to explore a little further, and then we headed to Aït Benhaddou. The city of Aït Benhaddou is a very beautiful and unique city, built of mud, which is destroyed a little bit every time it rains.

We returned to Marrakech at around 20:00, quite tired but with our minds incredibly full of images.

Contact info
Phone: +212 601-659383

Disclaimer: We were guests of Desert Morocco Adventure, but all the views listed in this article are mine!

Daphne Giannouli

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