Morocco : Sahara Desert and Desert Luxury Camp, Erg Chebbi

I’ll be honest – the very reason Morocco was on my bucket list was definitely the Sahara Desert! Granted it has a ton of incredible history, stunning city architecture and tons more but being nothing comes close to “nature highlights” for me. Being the desert lover that I am, visiting the largest hot desert in the world was always something I was very eager to check off. Looking back on our trip, I can tell you without a doubt that this was certainly the highlight of our trip – it was epic and enchanting in every way!

Most people visit Marrakech and drive out to the stone desert (Agafay – beautiful in its own way) just about an hour away from the city. But if its the unreal golden sand dunes that you want to see, you must be prepped to make the scenic 10 hour drive out all the way to the town of Merzouga. The two main dune areas here that are popular to camp at are – Erg Chebbi and Erg Chigaga. We opted to do a 3 day, 2 night tour with Desert Luxury Camp.

I highly recommend doing a package tour with the camp as they take care of everything right from picking you up from Marrakech, taking you to the camp and then dropping you back to your next destination (Fes, Marrakech, etc). In the tour, everything is customizable; when you contact them you can let them know how many days you are interested for, where you would be picked and dropped from and you can also choose to make the entire 10 hour journey to the desert or you can even choose to split your journey along the way at one of incredible locations you would be passing. The total price would depend on how your particular itinerary looks. For instance here is how our itinerary looked from Marrakech to Merzouga back to Marrakech.

We did the “taste of Desert 3 days 2 nights tour” but did both nights in the desert (instead of 1 in dades valley) :

Day 1 : Pick up in Marrakech and 10 hour drive to Merzouga. We stopped at a bunch of locations along the way including Ait Ben Haddou at Ouarzazate and lunch at a kasbah in Draa Valley. Spend night 1 in the desert.

Day 2 : Full day in the desert – sunrise walk, camel rides, sandboarding, etc. Spend night 2 in the desert

Day 3 : 10 hour drive from Merzouga to Marrakech. We stopped at Dades Valley as well as the stunning Todra Gorge.

In this post I will be recapping our entire 3 day journey with Desert Luxury Camp.

DAY 1 : Marrakech to Merzouga 

We were picked bright and early from Fairmont Marrakech by our driver Hassan. He was extremely knowledgeable, professional, courteous, patient and also catered the tour towards how we wanted it (based on where I wanted to make pitstops for all the photos!). Anush and I felt comfortable and safe that we were in good hands throughout our journey with a very competent driver guide.

Tizi n’ Tichka pass

Ten hours might seem like a long drive, but with such a picturesque roadtrip time really flies! Our journey started by heading to the Atlas Mountains through the famous Tizi n‘Tichka pass, the
direct route towards Ouarzazate. It is a spectacular and dramatic road that presents astonishing views of the snow topped peaks of the Atlas as well as many Berber villages along the way. It lies above the great Marrakesh plains, and is a gateway to the Sahara Desert.

Ait Ben Haddou

One place I was super particular to stop along the way is the incredible ksar of Ait Ben Haddou at Ouarzazate (pic above). This is also a very popular day trip to make from Marrakech. This “ksar” or fortified village is an ancient traditional pre Saharan habitat made from earthern clay and is filled with beautiful kasbahs ( merchant houses ). On the way while walking towards the ksar we came across this quaint Berber village – it was so charming!

Village at Ait Ben Haddou

Ait Ben Haddou is now a UNESCO world Heritage site and also a popular location for many movies and shows including Game of Thrones! GOT fans out there – can you recognize what location this was ?!

After this we passed the town of Ouarzazate to then cross the gorges and reach Agdz, where the palm grove of the Draa Valley lines. This is the longest river valley of Morocco that is lined with never ending date palm trees. We stopped here for lunch at a supercute Kasbah called Chez Jacob – the views from here was simply amazing!

Lunch at a Kasbah in Draa Valley

After lunch we made the drive straight to the desert and reached right after sunset to have an early dinner, entertainment by our very friendly camp hosts and then gaze at the ah-maz-ing night sky WOW! Nothing compares to the millions of stars, silence and peacefulness of the Sahara. We were so excited to explore the camp and around the dunes the next day.

 

DAY 2 : Desert Luxury Camp

We started off day 2 with an incredible sunrise over the Sahara. It was one of the most beautiful sunrises I have ever seen.

Desert Luxury Camp is set in a beautiful remote spot between sand dunes and gives the impression of being alone in the vast African desert while living like a nomadic king/queen! They also have a private camp and royal Camp option if you wanted something even more private/luxe. Our luxury canvas tent was is what glamping dreams are made of! We had a spacious bed, AC (so grateful we had that in the desert summer!), a shower, toilet and spacious patio area.

In and around our camp

Delicious Moroccan mint tea

The camp also has a common area in the middle to lounge around, a restaurant, a swimming pool (blew my mind that there was a pool in the middle of the Sahara!) as well as another palapa shaded lounge area with hammocks.

Common lounge area

Shaded palapa area with hammocks

After a delicious Berber breakfast we headed off into the vastness of the dunes on a private camel tour with our Berber guide Mohammed. This ride was the highlight of our trip and it was a serious pinch me moment to actually be here in the Sahara!

Dunes for days!

The vastness of the desert and the solitude and silence that comes with it was something that gives me all the feels when I think of it now – something you must experience at least once in your lifetime. It was even more magical and surreal than I had ever imagined with picture perfect dunes and it’s serene vibes.

We stopped to have delicious Moroccan mint tea in the middle of the desert and then headed back to camp.

Picnic in the desert

In the evening, we also tried our hand at sandboarding and boy it was such a freakin blast! The camp also offers a ton of other activities to choose from – like visit to a nearby berber village, 4x4wd drive on the dunes and more.

If you did follow me on stories you might have also seen that we were unfortunately also caught amidst a freak sandstorm + thunderstorm that evening and it was crazy (check out my Morocco story highlights on IG!) The zip to our tent gave way at one end and Anush and I held it down to avoid any sand/water from coming in. The tent next door actually flew into the desert in the camp too, so it was a scary adventure to say the least. I must note that the staff on the camp responded very quickly and immediately to make sure everyone was safe at the moment when the storm hit. I did get a ton of DM’s when I shared this on stories and so I had to share this here on my blog too. I am always 100% transparent and honest when it comes to my reviews and wouldn’t recommend anything I personally didn’t enjoy to you guys. That being said we did have an overall great time at Desert Luxury Camp and still whole heartedly recommend it. It is definitely one of the best desert camps in the Moroccan Sahara. It is rather unfortunate that we were caught in a bad storm on the second night. As a takeaway from our experience I can say that it is important to be aware and keep in mind if you ever opt to go glamping whether it is at this camp or another camp, that unforeseen weather related incidents can always happen – you are ultimately still in nature and still “camping” (even if its a luxury glamping tent).

 

DAY 3 : Merzouga to Marrakech 

After breakfast we left the camp to make our way back to Marrakech. On the way we stopped at Todra Gorge, a spectacular gash in the hills that surround Tinerhir. The region is dotted with deserted kasbahs, palmeries and mud-brick villages.

Todra Gorge

We stopped for lunch at Rose Valley and also made a quick pitstop at the beautiful Dades Valley. You can also opt to break your journey if you didnt want to make the straight 10 hour drive. Skoura Oasis is a great option to stay at if you wanted to split the journey.

All my desert looks :

Overall we had an incredible journey to the Sahara with Desert Luxury Camp and highly recommend adding this to your Moroccan itinerary if you ever visit the beautiful country. Thanks for stopping by! xoxo

Jyo

 

**This stay was in collaboration with Desert Luxury Camp, but all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

 

 

 

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