How to Do a Sahara Desert Tour from Marrakech + Best Tours

Looking for what it’s doing going on a Sahara tour, plus the best Sahara desert tours from Marrakech? Read on for the details!

A line of 5 camels climbs along the ridge of a sand dune in the distance, led by a lone person walking in front.

Of all the places we went to in Morocco, I was most excited to visit the Sahara – it was absolutely a top bucket list item for me!

The way that the sand dunes start rising out of the desert as you approach Merzouga, knowing that in front of you is the Sahara Desert, and you’re going to be riding a camel through it, is absolutely priceless.

I’m so happy to say that the visit lived up to or even exceeded our high expectations and this was one of my favorite travel experiences to date. I loved this experience so much, and it is absolutely worth the time, energy, and effort it takes to make it out to the Sahara to experience it yourself.

I want you to have as fantastic of an experience in the Sahara Desert of Morocco as we did, so in this post, I’m sharing everything you need to know about doing a Sahara desert tour, as well as some top tour options from Marrakech.

What to Expect on Your Sahara Desert Experience

Every desert tour follows a very similar itinerary. If you’re leaving from Marrakech, you’ll be picked up from your hotel or riad in an air-conditioned van to start the 8+ hour long drive out to the Sahara. You’ll be with a friendly, kind, helpful, and engaging guide, and spending time with your local guide will be a highlight of the trip.

Day 1

The first day, you’ll only drive partway out, as you’ll also be making some interesting stops along the way. These stops usually include Ait Ben Haddou (a super cool fortified ton on a hill that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and/or Ouarzazate, a desert city known for its film studios.

You’ll usually stop for the night near either the Todra Gorge or Dades Valley, two beautiful areas filled with stunning rock formations and small villages. The tour includes your accommodation for the night here.

Day 2

On Day 2, you’ll continue out to Merzoua, the town on the edge of the Sahara sand dunes. Depending on the exact tour itinerary, you might make another stop along the way, or you may spend some time in the Todra or Dades Gorges before starting your journey in the morning.

When you arrive in the town of Merzouga on the evening of the second day, you’ll meet up with your desert camp hosts, and ride a camel into the Sahara. It will take about 1.5 hours to reach your camp on the other side of the Erg Chebbi dunes. You’ll watch the magnificent desert sunset from the sand dunes, either in the middle of the dunes, or right at camp.

When you arrive in camp, you’ll find your tent where you’ll spend the night – these are not your typical pop up camping tents – they are well-designed, sturdy, and roomy tents, with running water, a bathroom, and electricity.

A typical Sahara desert tour luxury camp at night - a line of long, skinny, red carpets make a pathway down the center of the camp, with lanterns placed alongside the carpets. Tan, square shaped tents with a pointed top line linel the carpet, and greenery is planted at intervals.
Glamping in the Sahara

Then, enjoy a delectable hot dinner at camp – this dinner will be as delicious as anything you’ve eaten in Morocco!

After dinner, the Berber men will make a fire and play traditional music around the flames, and then you will definitely want to go watch the stars in the middle of the dunes!

Day 3 (and 4)

On Day 3, you’ll enjoy a fantastic breakfast in the dunes. You may have time to go sandboarding or ATVing in the dunes, depending on the tour.

If you’re doing a 3-day tour, you’ll leave by early to mid-morning to head back to Merzouga, get in the vans, and head back to Marrakech or continue to Fes. If you’re doing a 4-day tour, you’ll get an extra day to enjoy the desert.

My Top Tip For Choosing a Sahara Desert Tour

My biggest tip for visiting Morocco is to spend a full day in the Sahara. While you absolutely can have a great experience doing just the overnight, I think if you’re going to spend all that time getting out to the desert, you should stay and play a while. This is what we did, and I’d recommend it to anyone.

Both of the 4 day tours that I recommend in the list below (#4 and #5 on the list) give you a full day to explore and play in the desert.

The 5 Best Sahara Desert Tours from Marrakech

There are a lot of Sahara desert tour options, and many of them have similar elements. For this post, I’m highlighting the best Sahara desert tours in 5 different categories. All of these tours have wonderful and friendly tour guides and a fantastic itinerary.

#1: Best 3 Day Sahara Tour To and From Marrakech

A man in a blue and black striped kaftan, with a white turban around his head, stands next to a camel in the middle of the Sahara sand, and the camel and man are looking at each other.

⭐Rating: 4.8 of 5 stars | Read all reviews here

This 3-day Sahara tour is an exceptional adventure at a great value.

Discover the amazing natural beauty of the Moroccan countryside on this hassle-free journey, where you’ll visit Ait Ben Haddou, Ouarzazate, and the Todra Gorge while en route to the Sahara.

Once in the Sahara, you’ll get to do a camel ride at sunset and sunrise, sandboard, and have the option to ride ATVs through the desert.

This 3-day tour is ideal for anyone who wants an affordable yet extraordinary desert experience while making the most of their time exploring many parts of Morocco. The value of what you get on this tour is unmatched!

The entire trip was absolutely breathtaking… The night in the Sahara was beyond our imaginations, we were looked after so well and again the people taking care of us were going above and beyond to make sure everything was perfect for us. 

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Michael, tour review

Explore the full itinerary and learn more about this 3-Day Sahara Desert tour here

#2: Best 3-Day Sahara Tour From Marrakech to Fes

A line of 4 camels sit in a line in the middle of the sand dunes.

⭐Rating: 4.92 of 5 stars | Read all reviews here

If you like to continue to other destinations in northern Morocco after your time in the desert, this Marrakech to Fes 3-day Sahara tour is your way to go!

This small group tour combines transport from Marrakech to Fes and an unforgettable trip to the Merzouga desert.

Get a chance to visit the iconic Ait Ben Haddou, a scenic drive through Ouarzazate, and a memorable experience in both the beautiful Dades Valley and Todra Gorge.

Besides the iconic camel riding, you’ll also get to go sandboarding in the dunes.

On the drive to Fes, you’ll stop at Ifrane to see the famed cedar forest to see the wild barbary apes, as well as stop in Ifrane, a popular winter resort in Morocco.

You have the option to book a comfortable camp or the luxury camp. I highly recommend splurging for the luxury camp!

This tour is perfect for anyone who wants to experience many places in Morocco quickly – as you get Marrakech, Ait Ben Haddou, the Sahara, and Fes in 3 days. It’s an amazing value for enjoying multiple experiences, and the opportunity to end in a new city instead of backtracking.

This desert tour has been amazing. Starting from the pickup until the drop off, this was well organized and punctual. The driver Zakaria was professional and fun…the best part of this experience was the visit to a Berber community where we learned about traditional Carpet making technique and of course the camel riding in the Merzouga desert (at sunset and sunrise) and the night at the Bedouin camp.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Francesca, tour review

Explore the full itinerary and learn more about this Marrakech to Fes 3-day Sahara tour here

#3: Best PRIVATE 3-Day Sahara Tour from Marrakech to Fes

A man in a blue and black striped kaftan and a white turban sits on a camel as it walks through the Sahara sand dunes. The man is turned and smiling at the camera.

⭐Rating: 4.92 of 5 stars | Read all reviews here

This Marrakech to Fes Private 3-Day tour is an epic adventure, made even better by being a private excursion instead of a small group tour. Since this is a private tour, it will only be the guide and your group, offering flexibility, and a personalized experience.

You’ll make stops in Ait Ben Haddou and a tour in Ouarzazate, then to the Dades Valley to do a hike in the Monkey Fingers and the Todra Gorge.

You’ll enjoy an incredible night of camel riding, delicious dinner, and campfire songs before sleeping in your luxury nomad tent.

On the way up to Fes, you’ll stop by the cedar forests to witness the barbary apes, as well as make a stop in Ifrane, known as the Switzerland of Morocco.

This tour is a great option for anyone who wants to experience a lot of what Morocco and the Sahara have to offer while also having a more personalized and intimate experience.

I can summarize my morocco trip in 1 word: FANTASTIC ! We were lucky to travel with Bari from Marrakech. We discovered the best places in north and south morocco including the cool Merzouga desert. We have only positive memories.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Tour review

Explore the full itinerary and learn more about this Marrakech to Fes Private 3-Day tour here

#4: Best 4-Day Tour To and From Marrakech

A woman wearing a helmet and sunglasses sits on top of an ATV, the rippling dunes of the Sahara stretching out behind her.

⭐Rating: 5 of 5 stars

This 4-day Marrakech to Marrakech tour gives you an incredible experience out in the desert, as you start and end in Marrakech and get two nights and one full day in the Sahara.

This tour gets you to top attractions such as Ait Ben Haddou, Ouarzazate, and the Dades Valley.

You’ll get to experience the stunning sights of the Todra Gorge, before riding a camel and spending the night in the Sahara. For your full day in the Sahara, you’ll enjoy activities like sandboarding and ATV rides, visits to local Berber villages, exploring an oasis, and enjoying the Sahara desert vibes.

You’ll also stop at the market in Rissani, and get a chance to visit various viewpoints and villages on the way back to Marrakech.

This tour is an amazing value and experience to really immerse yourself in and enjoy the Sahara desert.

The guide gave us a lot of information about Morocco and life in the Sahara desert. The tour itself was full of fun and great desert experience. From the camel ride to the rock climbing, sand boarding and quad biking in the dunes. We highly recommend doing this when visiting Morocco!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ -Jessnisa, Tour review

Explore the full itinerary and learn more about this 4-day Marrakech to Marrakech tour here

#5: Best 4-Day Tour From Marrakech to Fes

A woman in a blue turban sits on top of a camel in the middle of the Sahara, and both are looking off into the distance. Riding a camel is one of the funnest parts of doing a Sahara desert tour.

⭐Rating: 5 of 5 stars | Read all reviews here

If you’re looking for the best Sahara desert excursion that offers you extra time to play in the desert, this 4-day tour from Marrakech to Fes is a perfect choice!

You’ll cross the awe-inspiring Atlas Mountains, and visit Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou as well as the Atlas Film Studio in Ouarzazate.

You’ll of course trek into your luxury desert camp by camel and enjoy all the typical desert camp activities. On your extra day in the desert, you’ll have time to relax and enjoy the laidback Sahara vibes, while also going on an ATV tour of the dunes, visiting a local village, and seeing some interesting sites nearby.

Plus, because this is a private tour, you’ll have a lot more control to customize your time according to your preferences.

On the way up to Fes, you’ll stop in Ifrane, the Switzerland of Morocco, and stop in the town of Rissani.

This tour is perfect for anyone who wants to spend more time in the Sahara (you get a full day here!) to really dive deeper into the culture and experiences the Sahara has to offer.

My friends and I … wanted to see all of the best parts with little effort on our part which is exactly what we got! Our tour guide Hamid was the best tour guide we could have asked for. Every time we wanted something, he made it happen. I definitely recommend riding the ATV’s through the dunes in the Sahara Desert. 10 out of 10 recommend taking this tour…Best trip ever!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – tour review

Explore the full itinerary and learn more about this 4-day tour from Marrakech to Fes here

Important Things to Know Before You Book

Booking Your Tour in Advance vs Booking in Marrakech

Considering booking a tour in Marrakech? You have two options: book in advance online or find a tour operator in the city and negotiate a price.

Booking on arrival lets you haggle for a lower price. However, there’s a trade-off. Online tour companies value their reputation and customer reviews, which often translates to a better experience. In contrast, a tour booked last-minute in the city’s souks may not prioritize this, potentially affecting your experience.

This may be a particularly good choice for solo female travelers. To avoid unwanted attention from guides, it’s safer to book your Sahara desert tour online, where companies are more likely to focus on ensuring a great experience and securing positive reviews.

Small Group Tour vs Private Tour

This one is really down to personal preference, and what’s available for the itinerary you want. I could only find private tours for the 4-day tours, for example.

If you’re doing a 3-day tour, though, you have the choice between private and small group. While I used to hate hate hate any type of group tour (there was one tour we did in Cozumel where I felt like we and 500 other people were being herded and shuffled through the streets of Mexico together. I hated this and it put me off of any type of group tour for a long time), I’ve come to really, really enjoy a quality small-group tour.

While it’s certainly a bit of a toss-up as to what type of people you’ll be with, we’ve now done a ton of small group tours in many countries we’ve visited, and we’ve loved getting to know and bonding with other travelers. It’s overwhelmingly been a positive experience.

Getting to hang out with other travelers from around the world now often ends up being a highlight of our trips!

What to Pack for the Sahara Desert

Headscarf: These really are helpful to protect your head from the sun, wind, and sand (plus they just make you look so legit.) You can buy one in any marketplace in Morocco for around 50 dirhams ($5) – plus it makes a great souvenir from Morocco to bring home with you.

The guides will help you tie the scarf in their traditional style.

Loose fitting pants/shorts: You’ll definitely want pants of some kind for riding camels, and loose fitting is the way to go to beat the heat. I wore a pair of pants I bought in Marrakech – you can find this style all over the city.

Dress, kaftan or djallaba: Kaftan and djallabas are traditional Moroccan clothing (long “dress”-like outfits that both men and women wear) and are a great thing to pick up if you want to look SUPER legit in the desert.

Matthew is wearing a kaftan in our camel pictures and he looks absolutely bomb. (Wear shorts underneath and then hike up the kaftan a little bit – it wasn’t hard for him to sit on the camel wearing that outfit).

Jacket: The Sahara can get chilly at night, even if it’s 90 F during the day. I’d definitely bring a light jacket if you’re visiting during the spring or summer. If you’re visiting during the winter, nights get quite cold (lows in the 30’s and 40’s) so I’d bring a heavier coat and possibly other winter gear (hat, gloves).

Sunscreen: No explanation necessary here, but definitely don’t forget this. Matthew always uses this sunscreen stick, and I wear this facial sunscreen for sensitive skin everyday.

Something for motion sickness: No matter what mode of transportation you choose to arrive in the desert, you’re going to have to ride on the winding roads of Morocco. These roads made me suuuuuuuuper nauseous (I actually threw up out the window as we were going through switchbacks in the Atlas Mountains).

All that to say, I’d definitely recommend something for motion sickness.

While dramamine is a tried and true option, I recently tried out the Relief Band for motion sickness and it has worked impressively well!

An E-Sim Card: I like having fast, high speed data when we’re traveling out of the country, and I recently started using e-sim cards – they’re convenient, cheap, and really reliable. I’ve bought my e-sims from for my past several trips and it’s been a great service!

Sahara Desert Tours FAQs

Can You Do A Day Trip to the Sahara Desert from Marrakech?

It takes approximately 8-9 hours to get to Merzouga from Marrakech or Fes, requiring quite a bit of time and effort to get out to the desert. So, it is definitely not possible to do a daytrip to the Sahara desert from Marrakech, you’ll for sure need the 3 days to do a desert tour justice.

The extra time is totally worth it though!

(However, if you really, truly only have time for a daytrip, check out these 10 best day trips from Marrakech)

What is the Best Month to Visit the Sahara?

Unsurprisingly, the Sahara Desert gets hot, very hot, during the summer months. Between May-September, highs are in the mid-90’s to over 100 degrees F (35-40 C), and lows are between 70-80 F (20-25 C).

Highs during winter can range generally average in the 60’s-70’s (15-20 C), with lows in the low 40’s (4 C). Definitely bring some warm coats, warm pajamas, a beanie, and some gloves if you’re visiting in winter – there’s no heating in the tents.

Undoubtedly, the best time to visit the Sahara desert is during the spring and fall, when the temperatures are milder and the heat isn’t as intense. However, you can have a good time in the Sahara desert at any time of year, you just need to be prepared for the weather that you’ll be experiencing.

Is It Worth Going to the Sahara Desert?

A woman in a white shirt and long red skirt sits on a sand dune in the Sahara, looking behind her innto the distance, as the sun rises on the horizon.

One million percent, yes! It is absolutely worth the time and effort in your Morocco itinerary to go out to the Sahara. This surreal and epic bucket list adventure will be one you never forget!

Top Sahara Desert Tours from Marrakech – The Wrap Up

All of these tours offer incredible experiences with lovely guides, so it’s really just a matter of choosing which one works for your itinerary. Put one of these Sahara desert tours from Marrakech on your itinerary today!

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