If you are visiting Morocco for the first time, Marrakech and the cities are fascinating and definitely worth a visit – But a trip to the Sahara desert is must do journey to a whole new world.
Tanja, my girlfriend and I just visited Morocco for the second time in two years now in the beginning of 2017. We are absolutely in love with Morocco and we wanted to explore more of the country than we had already done, experience the culture even further and what we desired the most was to visit the real Sahara desert. Last year we got to visit the Zagora desert that is much closer to Marrakech but this time the target was set for the highest sand dunes in North Africa!
We got in touch with multiple Moroccan travel agencies and it was soon clear who had all the answers – And some of the best costumer service we have ever experienced – We chose to plan our trip with a wonderful travel operator called So Morocco and they helped us costumize our whole trip for us with a private driver and a nice luxurious twist. Here I will share our wonderful experience with you – and pass on a good word for So Morocco.
Here are my …
HIGHLIGHTS FROM OUR 4 DAY
MOROCCO DESERT TOUR TO ERG CHEBBI
Day 1 – From Marrakech to the middle of nowhere
Hammid, Our guide, driver and soon to be friend – met us outside our amazing riad (Riad Yasmine) in Marrakech at 8.30 on our first day and we soon learned that we were incredibly lucky to have him as our local expert. Before our trip we were most excited to visit the Sahara desert and and we had planned our trip to bridge the long drive to the desert (approx. 600 km on Moroccan roads – 12 hours) with awesome sight seeing stops along the way. So, on our first day we drove up and through the High Atlas Mountains and peaked at 2,260 meters with amazing views and snow all around us. Which was definitely an unique experience, since we could have been sunbathing only an hour drive further.
Shortly after the beautiful Atlas mountains we visited Aït BenHaddou. This ancient Kasbah (fortified village) is believed to have been around since 757. And since it’s great ancient Moroccan architecture is so incredibly well kept after all these years it has been the setting for huge films like Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven, Babel, Prince of Persia and so many more.
After a good and very enjoyable stop at Aït BenHaddou we kept driving on the road of 1000 Kasbahs – Experiencing a great deal of Morocco through our car window but we also stopped in several small villages and in the Valley of Roses where they make pure rose oils, cream, perfumes etc. to ship across the whole world and for tons of internationally known brands.
Day 2 – Dades Gorge canyon & entering the desert
We woke up in an AMAZING riad that is located completely in the middle of nowhere – Somewhere deep in the Dades Gorge. The night before we were served a super romantic dinner and we were treated like VIPs for our entire stay like Moroccans are known for.
On the itinerary for this day was to explore the Dades Valley (the Grand Canyon of Morocco) which was really really incredible (see photos below!) and then head straight for the desert!
We got to the Erg Chebbi desert at around two o’clock and started our desert exploration by doing something that was completely out of this world … We did a Buggy rally tour in the sand dunes and I simply cannot put it into words how much fun we had. Speaking for myself, I think it’s the most fun and adrenaline filled thing I have done in my life! Not only rallying up and down 150m high dunes and drifting in the sand with Tanja yelling besides me – But also the magnificent views from deep within the desert with not a single soul in sight. We took some great photos but I really believe it was too beautiful to be captured on an image.
Immediately after the buggy, we met our new camel friends that took us even deeper into the desert – Enjoying the Saharan sunset in the dunes.
At around 6pm we arrived to our luxury desert camp – and we joked that we were experiencing the Moroccan desert just like the local Berbers … Except that we had beautiful warm tents with quality beds, electric blankets to stay warm (life saver for cold January nights!), hot water in the showers and were served exceptional food haha! It was the best. In the evening we enjoyed a to-die-for view of the stars and sat by the fire and listened to our local hosts play Berber music.
Day 3 – Desert Exploration Day
As we were especially excited about spending time in and experiencing the Moroccan desert – We spent plenty of time in the morning in our Erg Chebbi desert camp. We woke up early to enjoy the sunrise, had a really nice breakfast and got to take amazing photos in the twilight before noon. In the camp they had a snowboard (I guess it is called sandboard in Morocco) which I got to take a really nice advantage of … and Yes it is as fun as it sounds!
Later, we met with our local hosts at our next accommodation, a Kasbah hotel just on the edge of the sand dunes and they took us on a really interesting day tour around the area. The focus was on showing us how the Berbers live and we visited both nearby towns and a Nomad home. Nomads are those who have no permanent home, but travel from place to place with their family and animals to find fresh source of water and food. As I was saying, it was very interesting and we really appreciated the insight to this new world.
Just before sunset I made a last minute decision that I definitely not regret and turned out to be one of the best moments from our entire stay in Morocco. I had such an awesome time on the buggies and I simply couldn’t stop thinking about it … So, we decided to give it another go! Our host drove us to the Buggy & Quad base and this time we decided to try the alternative option and rented a powerful quad bike. Minutes later we drove into the Sahara dunes and just like before – We had the time of our lives! About 40 minutes later we stopped at the top of La Merzouga, the highest sand dune in the desert to enjoy the sunset – And that moment was the most beautiful moment we experienced in our entire trip, maybe in our life. Amazing.
After a decent dose of adrenaline and incredible sunset views we got back to the lovely Kasbah hotel, relaxed after the long day, were served a great Moroccan dinner, enjoyed the company of the super cute house cat and went to sleep.
Day 4 – Long, long drive back to Marrakech
When planning our trip we decided to make the most of our time in the desert and drive back from Erg Chebbi to Marrakech in one long go … a 12 hour drive in a single day! We looked at this as a small price to pay compared to the amazing time we had in the wilderness.
Today, right now when this is written I am sitting in our cosy transportation with Tanja sleeping like knocked out besides me and a decent 8 hour drive so far on the clock. Our driver & guide, Hammid is rocking our world behind the wheel, telling us fun stories, answering a million and some questions from us and taking us back home as fast as possible. The drive hasn’t felt like 8 hours at all even though 12 hours is definitely a personal world record. Among other things, I decided to use the time to write this post when everything is still fresh in memory & share my experience with you!
After our trip to Southern Morocco and the Merzouga desert we are even more deeply in love with this country and we are already talking about our next trip. We leave Morocco with a smile on our face and memories that will last a lifetime.
I hope this post has given you any inspirations for your own awesome Morocco adventure but if I can help you with anything else or answer any questions then don’t hesitate to get in touch as I am always happy to help. You can drop me a line here or shoot me a comment below and I’ll personally get back to you asap!
… And if you want to get in touch with the real Morocco pros, here is the website for So Morocco.