Misadventures at the Sahara Desert

Read all about how to get a cheap tour to the Sahara Desert from Marrakesh, Morocco here my wonder friends! Don’t forget to haggle for the best prices!

“If you want to go to the Sahara for 2 days 1 night, the price is 650DH. No haggle” the hostel manager told us. Granted, this wasn’t cheap since it’s almost 65 euros.

Having already dealt with Moroccan tour agencies before in my trip to the Ouzoud Waterfalls (where the price went from 350 to 150DH), I knew that there was definitely a way to obtain a cheap Sahara tour in Morocco.

I’m glad to say I wasn’t wrong.

How to Get a Cheap Sahara Desert Tour in Morocco

How to Get a Cheap Sahara Desert Tour in Morocco

How to get a cheap Sahara tour in Morocco

Me and my friend, the amazing Evangeline from Canada, went searching for a tour agency in the crowded souks of Marrakech. As soon as we entered one, the managers showed us the price list for their tours.

Of course, the 2 days 1 night tour of the Sahara was actually listed as 650DH…and right next to it we could find the discounted price of 550DH.

This time I tried a different strategy than before and actually tried to befriend the tour salesman by talking about everything except the price (he even showed us photos of his brother who works as a skate instructor in London!).

The Bedouin of Morocco

The Bedouin of Morocco

In the end, we told him that we would go back to our hostel and decide later to which he agreed and actually offered us a kind invitation for dinner later that night. Normally, my scam alert would go off at this sort of situations but this guy seemed completely trust-worthy.

The plot-twist? He totally was! Evangeline and I enjoyed a lovely Moroccan dinner with the tour salesman and his friend and we soon booked our Sahara tour for only 400DH (250DH less than what the people at the hostel would normally pay) including dinner and breakfast at the Sahara.

Let’s go get some Camel selfies!

I'm so ready to raid some tombs at the Sahara Desert

I’m so ready to raid some tombs at the Sahara Desert

The Sahara 2 days 1 night journey

There are basically two Sahara group tours leaving daily from Marrakech: the 2 days 1 night and the 3 days 2 nights. The difference is that the 3d2n goes to a different part of the desert called Merzouga where the color of the sand dunes is orange/red instead of the yellow/orange that you will see in Zagora.

The extra night is spent at the Dades Valley, which includes a gorge located in the Atlas mountain range. Granted, it does sounds better than the 2d1n tour but since both my friend and I were short on time we opted for the shorter version of the tour.

Sunrise at the Sahara Desert of Morocco

Sunrise at the Sahara Desert of Morocco

During the 4 hours ride from Marrakech to Ait Benhaddou, Hollywood’s favorite filming spot, we stopped at least four times to take a toilet break and to admire the extreme beauty of the Atlas mountain range. As I said before, it is important to bring your own lunch since the tour will stop at very expensive restaurants (100DH for a Tagine menu? No way Jose!).

The ride is a very smooth one so you can have some time to sleep (after all, we had to meet at 07:00 for the tour to start). However, I would definitely suggest you to keep your eyes open in order to admire the immense beauty of the Atlas region.

After leaving Ait Benhaddou we went into another scenic 4 hours ride to the town of Zagora, the closest one to the Sahara desert.

By the way, did you know that during certain months you can actually see snow in Morocco? How cool is that?

The Atlas Mountains of Morocco

The Atlas Mountains of Morocco

Riding Camels in the Sahara Desert of Morocco

This was my fourth camel ride (having previously rode them at the Egyptian Pyramids, the India Thar desert and at the beaches of Morocco) and yes, each time it gets smoother and smoother. If you’re riding a camel for the first time, remember that the secret is to actually move your body along with the camel in order to avoid feeling sore after the ride.

The camel journey from the town of Zagora to the Berber camp wasn’t really that scenic since we could see electricity cables and cars on the highway right next to us.

However, the last few minutes were completely magical as we approached the sand dunes just in time for sunset.

The pain of the first camel ride

The pain of the first camel ride

What came after was an amazing all-inclusive home-made dinner at the camp-site as the Berber people played the drums and sang to the tune of the desert. After filling up our stomach with Tagine, we drank the Berber Whisky (actually, mint tea) as a sign of friendship with our new friends as we turned off the remaining lights in order to fully appreciate the starry sky.

I wonder what the ancient people of the desert thought when they gazed at such a breath-taking sight. Do you think that they also named the constellations? Isn’t it interesting how we only know the Greco-Roman names of them? I do wonder how my ancestors named the Northern Star back in the olden days.

Food for thought right?

Bedouin diner and dance show

Bedouin diner and dance show

The Long Way Back from Zagora to Marrakech

We woke up at 05:00 in order to enjoy the sunrise over the dunes and, after a delicious breakfast, we were ready to embark on the 8 hour journey back to Marrakech.

Actually, scratch that since we were stuck two hours at a restaurant in the middle of the road where our driver mysteriously vanished.

Want to know where he was? Sleeping on the terrace of the restaurant. He never once apologized to us but at least he was kind enough to turn on the A/C this time.

10 hours after departing Zagora we were finally back to Marrakech, ready to take a shower to get the sand off our bodies and with a deep admiration for the people of the desert. And yes, to this day I still miss that beautiful starry sky.

Last but not least, don’t forget to use our Booking.com Affiliate Link of Wonders for making hotel reservations.

Same price for you and a small pocket money commission for this website of yours.

Sweet deal, uh?

Camila the Camel at the Sahara Desert

Camila the Camel at the Sahara Desert

I hope you have enjoyed this article about the Sahara Desert in Morocco. Don’t forget to subscribe in order to get more awesome updates and tips straight to your e-mail!

Have you ever been to Morocco? Would you like to experience the Sahara Desert? What other places in Morocco do you recommend? Share your thoughts and let me know what you think!

Until next time, my friends!

Read all about how to get a cheap tour to the Sahara Desert from Marrakesh, Morocco here my wonder friends! Don't forget to haggle! #Marrakesh #Sahara #Morocco

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25 Responses

  1. Suzanne Fluhr

    Not sure about the camel ride, but the rest of the trip sounds awesome especially the night sky in the Sahara. I like tagine just fine, but I’m sure there are better and worse ones. A chicken tagine recipe is my go to default when we have company for dinner.

  2. Karen Warren

    I’ve not been to the Sahara but I’ve been to other deserts and find them fascinating, as well as great places for photographs. And I love tagine…

  3. Jessica (Barcelona Blonde)

    Sounds like a great deal! I actually had no idea there was snow in Morocco haha. I mean, of course it’s a big country, but I always imagine it to be such a hot place.

    By the way, sorry to be missing you in Barcelona. Next time!

  4. Jon @ jonistravelling.com

    I might be heading this way soon, do you think it’s best to organise the desert trips from Marrakech or go to one of the towns closer to the desert?

  5. j0zyphyn

    Love to ride a camel and a tour in the dessert . Hope to find a cheap tour like yours…

  6. Desert Morocco trips

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  7. Nisa

    I was wondering if u know and if it’s possible for a 2D1N desert tour from Marrakesh to Fez? I’m tight on my schedule too and will be from casablanca planning to head to Marrakesh, fez, chefchaouen before flying back to Casablanca in a span of 7 days.

    And thanks for the suggestion.

  8. Kirsten B

    Hi There,
    this was such a treat to read especially as myself and friend are heading to Morocco for the first in a week! Trying to decide if booking a tour before we leave London or once there but feeling more confident now that we would get a good deal booking in Marrakesh. We are wanting to 3days/2nights. Can you let me know which agent you went too? Thanks again and love your writing and pictures :)

  9. Antoine

    Hi Rafael,

    Love the article, thanks for sharing.
    I got 2 questions:
    I want to visit Morrocco for 10 days and go in the Sahara for 2 or 3 days.
    Since I am travelling by myself, the tour guide idea is a bit expensive. They only offer private tour aim for groups. Am I right?
    Do you know then another way to go to the sahara desert? Hire a car?

  10. DAVED

    Morocco has it all! In the country you find so many varied and breathtaking landscapes. From palm spotted oasis, amazing golden desert scenes, majestic terrains of the High Atlas Mountains, magnificence of coastal cities to cedar tall forests, sky rising gorges and much more!

    Check into our Desert Tour itineraries that includes night spend in the desert in Nomad tent completely surrounded by deserted dunes and camel trekking of course!

  11. Sandra

    Went on a tour to the Sahara Desert. It was such an incredible experience! There was myself and three other friends. Our guide was Idir. He was professional, insightful, kind, and extremely knowledgeable. His SUV was big enough for all of us. Clean, air conditioned and even had wifi. He made our visit to Morocco a memorable one. The Sahara was fantastic! Road a camel into the desert for the sunset it was breathtaking. Would absolutely recommend booking!
    Website : http://saharadesertkingdom.com
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  12. Monica

    My only Sahara experience was Christmas 2007 when I rode out from Timbuktu, Mali to stay with a Touareg family. It was phenomenal and yes, the stars were breathtaking.

    They were equally good in Dogon country, in southern Mali, which was such an amazing place that it rivals riding camels into the desert on Christmas eve!

    The camel saddle setup was different than yours; you put your bare feet on the camel’s neck. Not comfy but not terrible.