Travel

Glamping in the Sahara Desert

October 8, 2018

No trip to Morocco would be complete without a visit to the Sahara Desert. During my latest Moroccan adventure, I wanted to check glamping in the Sahara desert off my bucket list, so my husband and I decided to travel from Marrakech to the Sahara desert and spend a night glamping. Although this experience was unforgettable, I will warn you that it is a lengthy journey — 10+ hours driving and traveling through all different terrains, but it was definitely worth it.

The Sahara Desert covers a huge extent of Northern Africa and spans more than 3.5 million square miles, which is the size of the United States!

We booked a two-night luxury glamping adventure with Desert Luxury Camp. This entailed one night in the beautiful oasis of Skoura, one night at the luxury camp and private transportation with pickup in Marrakech and drop off in Fes. Our tour started in Marrakech and ended in Fez. The scenery and sites you will visit will make up for the long drive. Be aware, that there are many companies that offer “desert” day tours out of the major cities like Marrakech, but don’t actually travel all the way to the Sahara Desert. Traveling to the Sahara desert for an enjoyable experience requires several days.

If you’re headed to northern Africa, I highly recommend getting out of the cities for at least one night to see the incredible, natural landscapes. I hope that my experience visiting the Sahara Desert can help you to plan your trip someday. Keep reading below for information on my exact tour, pricing, tips and more!


SAHARA DESERT TOUR PRICING

Pricing all depends on the type and length of tour that you choose. We chose a 3-day private tour from Marrakech to Fez, which cost $624 for two people.

Cost included:

  • All vehicle transfers in private 4x4WD or minivan with fuel and driver
  • Accommodation in large tent with private en-suite bathroom, breakfast and 3
    course dinner
  • Professional Camel guide, 2 camel rides, sand boarding, entertainment by campfire at
    night

 

Cost Excluded:

  • Lunches on three day journey
  • Accommodation and meals in Dades Gorge
  • Discretionary tips and gratuity

 

If this is too pricey, I suggest taking a non-private tour. Non – private tours and tours where you don’t break up the trip with a hotel stay are typically more affordable.


GETTING TO THE SAHARA DESERT

The trip took three days and covered over 900 miles. We crossed the Middle Atlas, High Atlas and Anti Atlas Mountains ranges. Our stops included:

  • Ait Benhaddou
  • Ouarzazate
  • Todra Gorge
  • Zaida in the Midelt province

 

We traveled south-east towards Merzouga, a small town in the Sahara Desert near the Algerian border. The gateway to a huge expanse of dunes known as Erg Chebbi, where we trekked into the desert to camp in the Sahara. Lastly, we traveled north towards Fez.


DAY ONE WITH DESERT LUXURY CAMP

After spending 2 nights in Marrakech, we were picked up around 8 am from Marrakech, by our private driver from Desert Luxury Camp. Our driver, Mohammad, met us with a 4WD car and we began our journey driving through the Atlas Mountains. Six hours of mountains, valleys, winding roads and breathtaking views.

The first part of the drive took us through the High Atlas Mountains; some of the tallest mountains I had ever been and sprinkled with small Berber villages, the views were incredible.

We stopped throughout our journey for photos and had lunch at a local Moroccan restaurant. The lunch was really delicious and light. The view was spectacular too.

After lunch, a local guide came to meet us to show us around UNESCO World Heritage Site Ait BenHaddou. This is probably the best-preserved fortified Kasbah in the country. With its dramatic walls of red earth, slit windows and crumbling towers, it is a magnificent example of a traditional stronghold. Chosen as a location for Hollywood films such as Lawrence of Arabia, Jewel in the Nile, and more recently Gladiator, Ait Ben Haddou sits upon a lofty pinnacle of rock overlooking a river.

Following our visit to Ait BenHaddou, we drove to Ouarzazate and continued on the road of Thousand Kasbahs passing the Skoura Oasis and Rose Valley before reaching our hotel for the night in Dades Valley, Chez Pierre. Staying at a hotel along the way really helps to break the long trip up. One of the nice things about Desert Luxury Camp is they let you chose which hotel you would like to stay at and you book this on your own separately. There are plenty of options in the area, however I highly recommend Auberge Chez Pierre!

The hotel itself is really beautiful with mountain views and the relaxing atmosphere at the pool is heavenly. The mountain views reminded me of my recent visit to Arizona.

What needs to be mentioned are the extraordinary meals: both dinner and breakfast were really delicious and comparable with higher European standards. Dinner included a 5-course gastronomic dinner with appetizer, soup, salad, main course and dessert. They were even so kind to accommodate my gluten free dietary restriction. But what made it special was the lovely details and the host who served the meal together with his team, which made it an unforgettable for us. This was by far, the best meal in Morocco!


DAY TWO WITH DESERT LUXURY CAMP

The next morning we started again, bright and early. Today we depart to Todra Gorge, a spectacular gash in the hills that surrounds Tinerhir.

After stopping by the famous Todra Gorge, it was time for another six hour car drive.

We stopped to experience a traditional Berber pizza and mint tea with a man, who gave us a history lesson on Morocco and then showed us around his shop.

We had the opportunity to purchase Moroccan carpets, jewelry and antiques. Although the items in his shop were beautiful, we decided to only purchase head scarves in preparation for our camel ride.

We continued and headed off into the vastness, but not too far before stopping at a local Aragon producing shop. It was so interesting to see the different ways Aragon can be used. I ended up purchasing some Aragon Oil to keep my luscious locks shiny and smooth.

Eventually, we passed the city of Erfourd and onto Rissani reaching Merzouga and the magnificent apricot colored sand dunes of Erg Chebbi. There they were, THE CAMELS!

These sturdy camels have been a mainstay of desert life over the centuries. We hopped on with excitement as we trekked through the Saharan sand. The best part? Because we didn’t go through one of the larger Marrakech tours, we were the only two people on our camel trek into the desert.

The camels hiked up the tall dunes that loomed ahead of us. After about 30 minutes, we saw the camp in front of us. It had taken us nearly two days to arrive here, but it was so, so worth it.

As we approached the camp, we were greeted with mint tea and fresh dates and then shown to our tent for the evening. The camp is set in a beautiful spot between sand dunes and gives the impression of being alone in the vast African desert. Before sunset you can explore the dunes and even go sand-boarding.

After settling into our comfortable tent, we decided to hike up nearby sand dunes to take some photos and watch the sunset.

Around 8 pm, we enjoyed a delicious dinner followed by campfire time beneath the starry African sky. Nothing compares to the millions of stars, silence and peacefulness of the Sahara. The stars shined so bright and beautiful and were like nothing I had ever seen before. Before falling asleep watching the stars, we headed to get some much needed sleep in our luxury tent to get a good nights rest for our sunrise camel ride in the morning.


DAY THREE WITH DESERT LUXURY CAMP

Good Morning! We were up bright and early to ride our camels one last time before heading to Fez.

After a nice breakfast, we then headed on our way from Merzouga to Fez along the scenic Ziz Valley Gorge. We drove through the Middle Atlas Mountains and Cedar Forests and after one final 8-hour car ride of incredible landscapes, we had made it to Fez.

Three full days of driving, camel trekking in the Sahara, some incredible stops along the way and we finally made it from Marrakech to Fez. This road trip was the most amazing experience and an absolutely great way to see different parts of Morocco.

So yes, the journey to and from the Sahara is long. It’s really not near any of the main cities in Morocco, so you do need to be a little dedicated to get out there. I highly recommend booking with Desert Luxury Camp for an unforgettable experience!


WHAT TO EXPECT AT DESERT LUXURY CAMP

The beds were comfortable, and the tents have full bathrooms (warm showers), outlets, and blankets, so you won’t feel like you’re camping in the Sahara– but “glamping” instead!

Inside the beds were comfortable, each with an electric blanket to help with those cold desert nights and plenty of outlets for you to recharge your electronics.

There is no cellphone service, but you can at least charge your phone in your tent to have a functional phone for the drive back to Fez.

Take advantage of the furniture set up in the dunes to watch the sunset or sunrise. You can even hike up the dunes and sit up at the top for an even better view.

Make sure to keep the pull down curtain to your tent closed, unless you want to let some unwelcome guests inside. During our stay, we did notice many big black beetles, thankfully, none made their way in our tent. We did not experience any scorpions, but depending on when you go you could encounter them.


TIPS FOR TRAVELING TO THE SAHARA DESERT

  • Bring Cash
  • Bring Snacks and Water for the long car ride
  • Head scarf or hat and sunglasses to protect you from the sun and sand
  • Bring your own alcohol, like a bottle of wine or two, if you want to have a drink in the desert
  • The winding roads through the Atlas Mountains are stunning, but can cause motion sickness. I recommend bringing medication if this is an issue for you or someone you’re traveling with.
  • Plan your time of visit. We visited in early June and the temperature was warm during the day and cool at night. However, during the winter months the temperature drops at night and it’s freezing.

Would you do a 3 Day Sahara Desert Tour in Morocco?


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