Of everything that we did in Morocco, spending a night in a Sahara desert luxury camp (aka going glamping in the Sahara) was EASILY the experience I was most excited for.
Riding camels through the sand dunes of the Sahara – really what could be more bucket list worthy than that?
In this post, I’m going to describe exactly what our experience was like with an incredible (and extremely affordable) Sahara desert luxury camp that I can 1000% recommend.
So, let’s get into it!
🐪Ready to book your Sahara desert luxury camp now?
Where is the Sahara Desert in Morocco?
The Sahara Desert is on the far eastern edge of Morocco. You can actually see the border of Algeria from your camp!
The name of these particular sand dunes is Erg Chebbi. Merzouga is a town right on the edge of Erg Chebbi, and most Sahara desert luxury camp experiences starts from this town.
How to Get to the Sahara?
It takes between 8-9 hours to drive from Marrakech or Fes to the Merzouga Sahara camps, so it’s a big commitment to come out here! However, it’s totally worth it, and there are a lot of interesting things to see on the way out to the Sahara that break up the drive.
Here are four ways to get to the Sahara:
By Private Driver: You can book a private driver to drive you out to the desert, and on to wherever you’re going next. This is a great option if you want the flexibility of going by yourself, but don’t want the hassle of actually driving.
By Rental Car: You can pick up a rental car from the airport in Marrakech and embark on a cross country Moroccan road trip. This is what we did and it was a great experience. I recommend booking with Europcar via RentalCars.com (for best prices and reliability).
Also, definitely read our Driving in Morocco post for all the details of what it’s like to drive yourself around the country.
By Guided Tour: Doing a guided tour is a very popular way to experience Sahara Desert glamping- however, you will be at a different camp than what I discuss in this post. All the logistics are taken care of, though, and you’ll get a lot of really fun and rewarding experiences on the trip out and in the desert.
If you want to consider this option, I’d actually hop over and check out my post on the 4 best Sahara desert tours.
By Bus: You can take a bus from Marrakech right to Merzouga and the luxury camps. To be honest, I wouldn’t recommend this option – the bus is actually decently expensive, and you don’t get dropped off in Merzouga until 8pm – too late to do a night in the desert, so you’d have to wait until the following day.
I’d choose one of the other options on this list over the bus.
IMPORTANT: How Many Days Should You Spend in the Sahara Desert Luxury Camp?
This is one of my biggest pro tips for your Sahara desert camping experience in Erg Chebbi: Stay 2 nights in the Sahara!
Most people just stay one night in the Sahara, but I really think two nights gives you such a better experience! It takes 9+ hours to drive there from Marrakech, and with one night it feels like you leave almost as soon as you get there.
I’m glad we did the two nights in the Sahara as part of our 10 days in Morocco, and I would highly recommend you do too.
Okay, let’s get into the details of what it’s like to go glamping in the Sahara.
Arriving in Merzouga
You’ll definitely be driving through the desert as you make your way out to Merzouga, but the last few hours of driving, you’ll be in the type of desert that is flat and barren.
I mean, it was still cool, but as you approach Merzouga, you’ll start to see the dunes rising up from the distance. Knowing, “THAT IS THE SAHARA” (and that you’re going to stay in an Erg Chebbi desert camp!) was unbelievable and a *pinch me* moment for sure!
You will meet your guides for the desert at a hotel in town. We stayed with Desert Heart Luxury Camp, and I can’t recommend them enough.
As you are arriving at the hotel in Merzouga, keep a very close eye on your maps – at the end, the road was just a turnoff onto an expanse of dirt that took you over to the hotel – calling it a “road” was a BIG stretch.
Heading into the Sand Dunes
You have the option to go into the camp by 4×4 jeep or by camel ($20 per person) and you simply must do the camels! The camp is on the far side of the dunes and takes about 20 minutes by 4×4 jeep or 1.5 hours by camel.
You’ll leave Merzouga around 5pm, arriving in camp a little before sunset.
What It’s Like Riding A Camel
Riding a camel is very easy and comfortable, but be prepared to get jostled as the camel stands up and sits down! Unlike a horse, you mount camels when they’re sitting on the ground. When they stand up, their hind legs go up first, so you’re thrown forward, and then thrown backward when the front legs go up.
It’s nothing dangerous, and actually pretty fun, just make sure you hang on!
Welcome to Your Sahara Desert Luxury Camp
Your desert luxury camp is run by several friendly Berber men. When you arrive at camp, you are welcomed with mint tea – you can choose a little table set up in the sand to relax at while you sip tea and soak in the view.
Then get acquainted with your Sahara desert glamping setup:
You have your own, personal tent, with a beautiful bed on a metal frame, several windows you can open and close, and a full bathroom, with running water, flushing toilets, and a shower.
In addition, there are electric lights and outlets in the tent, and actually really good wifi in the camp! The floors are covered with colorful Berber rugs and the whole setup is incredibly inviting and cozy.
Dinner was a really impressive experience in the desert. We were set up on nice tables in the heart of the the camp. We dug out toes into the sand while we ate.
The meal is a delicious 4 course affair. To start, we were offered a salad or a plate of vegetables. Then we were brought soup, a tagine or other main dish, and then a dessert.
The Evening Portion of Glamping in the Sahara
Then, after dinner, the men will make a fire and play Berber music around the fire. The music is rhythmic and mostly uses drums, and the men sing while they play.
After a while, they invited us to get up and dance around the fire with them. At the end of the night, they taught us the basics of how to play their drums.
Sitting on rugs around a campfire in the dunes of the Sahara, and then dancing with them under the stars was a truly memorable moment.
At night, you must go out into the dunes to watch the stars! With almost no light nearby, stargazing in the Sahara is incredible.
We are far from photography pros, but we did use a few tricks to get some pretty impressive night sky shots in the Sahara with just our cell phone. Here are our best tips for beginners to get some epic night sky photos:
- Set your phone up on a tripod, or anything to keep it completely still. We traveled in Morocco with this bigger one and this little one – either one will work fine for star photos, but stability is key for getting clear shots.
- Adjust your phone settings on Pro mode (it’s called Pro Mode on a Samsung phone, but it’s just the mode where you can manually adjust the settings). We had good results with 15-30 second shutter and 800-3200 ISO.
- Turn your self-timer on, even 3 seconds will do! You just want to avoid any jostling of the phone from you hitting the button when the shutter is open
- If you are in the photo, do not move a muscle!
- Voila! Pretty dang good photos, just from a phone camera!
Breakfast in the Sahara Desert Luxury Camp
As good as the dinners were while we were glamping in the Sahara, I might have loved the breakfasts even more.
At Desert Heart Luxury Camp, a full spread was brought out to our table, with an incredible assortment of yogurt, fresh fruit, baked eggs in a tagine, crusty bread, breakfast cake, orange juice, and my ABSOLUTE favorite: Moroccan crepes.
These crepes were similar to French crepe (large, very thin pancakes), but were unique in that they were slightly crispy and flaky. They were so, so good.
In addition, the most succulent platter of toppings was brought out, with butters, jams, and several types of local honeys available for spreading on your bread and crepes.
The Full Day in the Sahara
The full day we had at camp was super chill – we woke up before sunrise to watch the sunrise from the dunes.
After enjoying breakfast, we took a nap in our gorgeous tent, went into the dunes to explore and take pictures, went sandboarding (sandboards are provided free of charge), went ATVing in the dunes ($40 pp), ate lunch at camp, relaxed, chatted with the Berber men, and generally just had a laidback, good time.
There is also the option for a 5 hour tour, where you visit a nomad camp, the border of Algeria, an oasis, some museums in town, and some shops.
There is no need to book the longer tour or the ATVing before you arrive, you can just tell the men at camp what you want to do when you get there.
We had THE BEST experience at this Sahara luxury camp, and it was incredibly affordable as well.
I just highly, highly recommend booking Desert Heart Luxury Camp for your Sahara adventure!
The Berber Men
I have to do a section and shout out the Berber men who were our hosts in camp. If you’re not familiar, Berber people are an ethnic group in Morocco, and they usually live more in the deserts.
Historically, Berber people have been desert nomads, or would live high up in the mountains, but today there are more Berbers living in the towns and villages. The men who ran the camp were all Berbers.
These men were all incredibly friendly, warm, and welcoming to us. We were always greeted with a smile, and if we had any needs, they were happy to accommodate.
On our full day in camp, we sat and chatted for over an hour with one of the men, and he told us stories and history of his people. It was incredibly fascinating and a really wonderful, authentic experience.
On our second night, we were actually the only ones in the camp, and they set up a more secluded, romantic dinner spot for us a little bit farther out in the dunes, with lamps leading out to the table. It was incredibly sweet.
When we were heading back into Merzouga by jeep, they put on really fun Berber music in the car, rolled down the windows, and woohoo’d as we went, shouting AFRICCAAAAA! I mean, they were just fun guys, and a real highlight of the whole experience.
A note about traveling as a solo female: I’ve read several reports of solo female travelers being hassled or feeling uncomfortable by the guides in their Sahara camp near Merzouga.
While these women were not doing this particular camp with these particular men (and it’s hard for me to imagine such kind men being creepy), if you’re doing this experience and a solo female traveler, I would use caution in chatting up the men on your own.
Saying Goodbye to Your Sahara Desert Luxury Camp
On your final morning, wake up in the desert (I recommend waking up early enough to catch the sunrise again!), eat breakfast, and get ready to leave the Sahara.
When you’re ready, you go back into town by jeep. Cruising across the dunes in the jeep was super fun and a great way to say goodbye to your desert glamping experience.
⭐Desert Heart Luxury Camp is rated 9.4 out of 10 stars on Booking.com – read all reviews here
Frequently Asked Questions
Best Time to Go Glamping in the Sahara
You can have a great experience in the Sahara any time of year!
That being said, the spring and fall months are definitely the best weather months to visit. You’ll have warm days (in the 70’s to 80’s F) and cool nights. However, this is also the high season for travel, so there will be more tourists there.
Winter can be a lovely time to visit – there are less people, and the highs are in the 50’s and 60’s, sometimes reaching 70 degrees F. However, the nights are quite chilly (getting down into the 30’s and 40’s and the tents aren’t heated) so bring some warm clothing.
Summer temperatures soar over 100 F throughout the season – but on the plus side, you probably won’t need a jacket, and there are less travelers. As the tents don’t have AC, you may find sleeping to be a bit stuffy (people keep their doors open, or even opt to sleep on carpets under the stars).
And remember, this is the desert and it has dry heat. You’ll be much more comfortable at 100 F in the Sahara than 90 F in the soupy climate of somewhere like southeast Asia.
We went in October and had absolutely marvelous weather – warm but not unpleasantly hot, and just a slight coolness at night.
What to Do on the Way Out to Merzouga
There are some great things to do in the Atlas Mountains on the way out to Merzouga and the Erg Chebbi dunes desert camp. Check out my very detailed 10 days in Morocco itinerary post for all the information about what to do on the way out!
What Should You Wear for Camping in 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).
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).
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.
You wear this device like a watch on your wrist, and it sends out little pulses of electricity to stimulate your vagus nerve. You’ll feel just a little buzz in your wrist and hand (its nothing like getting shocked), and is extremely effective.
Case in point: I gave it to my dad to try out when he went to Mexico, as he has a very delicate stomach. He wore it when they took a ferry between two islands, and the sea was incredibly rough.
Normally in that situation he would be throwing up off the back of the boat literally the entire time, but his stomach was perfectly fine, not even a twinge. MIRACLE PRODUCT!
Final Thoughts on this Sahara Desert Luxury Camp
Our experience doing Sahara camping was easily one of the most memorable 2 days of my entire life. If you’ve been on the fence about it, I highly recommend you go for it – you won’t regret it!
💁♀️ Note: I was not paid by this tour company to write a review.
I paid full-price for this experience out of my own pocket, and the opinions I give are in no way influenced by compensation of any kind. Desert Heart Luxury Camp didn’t know I planned to write this article after the tour.