From Marrakech to the Desert of Merzouga.
Okay, so you have already seen and discovered the beautiful cultural city of Marrakech, its old palaces and souks (typical local markets). Perhaps, the time for you to explore a new region of the country that could cut your breath of its beauty and differential kind of landscape, has arrived. The road trip excursion to the Desert of Merzouga, is one of the most famous ones that exists in Morocco, and that more tourists chose to go for.
The Desert of Merzouga is unique in its colour, being of a more intense orange that I have ever seen before in any other desert, neither in Israel, Dubai or Egypt. Only in Morocco. Also, is it in the region where Merzouga’s desert is found, that you have the choice to met the Bereber culture, and ancient nomad civilisation that lived in Morocco before the Muslims take control of the region in the year 620.
So, after saying that, let’s get started with the remarkable journey towards the Desert of Merzouga in Morocco!
F1st day of route -> From Marrakech to Ouarzazate
The first part of your road trip journey towards the Desert of Merzouga, it will be to cross the High Atlas Mountains to arrive until the city of Ouarzazate. The journey will take almost the whole day, as you will be stopping by at viewpoints to take some pictures, and at restaurants to have some typical moroccan lunch like Tagine.
Once you arrive at the city of Ouarzazate, remarkable spots such as the Ait Ben Haddou Kasbah (where Hollywood films such ‘Gladiator’ or Game of Thrones were recorded), or the Atlas Studios will be found.
Ait Ben Haddou Kasbah
On your way from Marrakech to the Desert of Merzouga, once you arrive in the city of Ouarzazate, you cannot miss to visit Ait Ben Haddou Kasbah. This small cozy citadel, built to defence the city when there was an attack (that’s what the meaning of Kasbah refers to) its been showed in Hollywood films, and having it right in front of your face is something remarkable and unique. Plus. the visit is free!
Witness a Bereber wedding in the city of Ouarzazate!
There is nothing better to understand the Bereber culture than to approach Berebers. By doing the full Desert tour including the road trip with Bereber guides, you will be already able to learn a bit of the language (which differs from Arabic completely), learn some songs, cultural aspects, ways of dressing… attending events of the culture, like a wedding, will also be a plus!
To witness the typical Bereber wedding dressings, weddings dances, music… they also will welcome you even if you are a foreigner who don’t know anyone of the event. So sweet all together.
Sleep one night in the city of Ouarzazate
After a whole day of road trip around the High Atlas Mountains, the idea is make a stop in the city of Ouarzazate and to sleep there, rest and the next day continue the other half route to arrive to the Desert of Merzouga.
Second day -> from Ouarzazate to the Merzouga Desert
Start your day with a delicious Moroccan breakfast
IIn your second day, you can make a stop for having typical moroccan breakfast, normally based on some fried or mashed eggs with olive oil, a lot of bread, creppes (more french but moroccans say its their typical food as well) and for sure you should try M’Smen (delicious flat bread, I recommend you to try it out warm and filled with cheese, so yummy!).
They also drink a lot of mint tea, including breakfast time (actually they drink tea during the whole day several times per day). Fresh orange juice, yoghurt, granadine if you happen to go during winter as it is a wintertime delicious fruit (under my point of view) and some sweats too. Very complete and delicious breakfasts overall.
Stop by at Gorges du Toudra
Or Gorge Todra, it is said to be the narrowest Canyon of Morocco, and an spectacular nature/orographical creation for the eyes and all senses. The deepest part of the Canyon is 400m, theres a small river crossing, nomad berebers living there or just passing by to take some water from the river, local people playing Bereber music around a firestock (yes, in November it happen that Morocco turns to be a slightly cold destination, with temperatures still nice during the day if it’s sunny but a bit colder on the nights). The ambience of the place is chill, nice and of course the spot it is touristically known, so you may cross path with other tourists as well.
Make a new stop to have a: Moroccan Lunch
I must say, that in general Moroccan gastronomy is very rich , tasty and healthy, so you can not get bored either sick of the local food while your trip to the country. All the contrary, one of the best options for you to enjoy Morocco even more is by enjoying is multiple home-made delicious dishes. From Tagines ( dishes cooked in a tagine pot, that can combine vegetables, rice, different kind of meat, eggs..) to Lamb cuscous, to its sweets like the Almond Cookies.
Arrive to the Desert in the afternoon
Stay in a Riad for the first night: Les Flamants
Before starting your excursions around the Desert (including Camel ride, sleep in a camp tent, watch the stars, play music with the bedouins, watch the sunset and sunrise and maybe even go for a quad dune ride, I recommend you to at least stay for a night or even more in a Riad placed right in front of Merzouga desert dunes (also known as the desert of the Erg Chebbi).
Price per night of the Riad
That way you’ll be able to rest in a room, a for as little as 20€ night ( that region of Morocco is really cheap, specially if we compare it to Marrakech kind of prices). It also includes a very complete nice Moroccan breakfast, it has a pool you only can enjoy in case that you visit in the summer time (otherwise is getting also a bit cold to enjoy it)) and after the good rest in the Riad you’ll be ready to go for the desert adventures (as long as it doesn’t rain to you, that was my case on the next day so I had to wait until the second to start the adventure).
Camel ride and night in a Desert tent excursion
What does this excursion includes?
This is one of the top most popular and ‘must do’ activities to do whenever you visit the Merzouga desert dunes.
The excursion starts at your hotel or Riad, they pick you up, and a camel will be waiting you (or better said a dromedary because camels do have 2 humps, and the animal you take it does only have one), with a bereber guide who will take you with the dromedary through the magical dunes for more than 1h, including a stop in a place where you can watch the stunning sunset.
After it they will drop you in the Desert camp tent in which you are suppose to sleep at (a bit cold in the winter though, better to sleep over spring and summer time days), you’ll leave your staff there, and they berebers of the camp will call you to have a homemade dinner, and then they will make up fire to sing bereber typical songs, dance, and tell stories of their lives. You can do some stargaze, and then go to sleep because next day you’ll have to wake up at 6, to start another dromedary ride over the dunes to catch this time the sunrise, do some sandboarding, and then go back to a Riad in which they will serve you breakfast.
The total price of the excursion including all the beforehand mentioned options will be: 300 dirhams, or 30€.
Other adventure activities to do while your stay in the Merzouga desert
1h ride of Quad in the Dunes of the Desert
This, after the camel ride + desert camp night, in the second most popular activity most tourists engage with during their stay in the Merzouga desert.
You can rent a 1h quad tour in the Dunes of the stunning Merzouga desert, go along accompanied with a tour guide who knows the desert and the dunes.
The minimum time of the tour is 1h, and the tour is done in the afternoon, right before the sunset takes place.
What does the quad tour include?
Price of the tour
400 dirhams, or 40€, it is the minimum price for all companies offering the tour around the Merzouga Desert region.
Get to know the Nomad families of the Desert and the African communities
The original peoples of the Desert of Merzouga are the Berebers, and the Berebers and nomads who change placement from time to time around the area. Nowadays there’s still Nomad families who inhabitate the region, who raise their children in that way of living. As a foreigner, you are normally welcome to visit some of them, and they will offer you tea, and some snacks. You are suppose to give them back some money to support them. You won’t go there alone, your tour guide is supposed to go with you to the place, to introduce you to the family.
The African Communities of the Bereber Desert
Visit the ‘Dar Ganaoua Bambara Khamlia’, where African Communities of the Desert of Merzouga live, and used to be treated as of slaves. Nowadays, they play their own music, so you can hear their songs, buy them a CD, talk with them and learn a bit about their history and roots.
To sum up, this will be the itinerary road trip from Marrakech to the Desert of Merzouga, passing through all the historical remarkable sites of the country along the road, and profiting of the above mentioned activities once arrived to the desert, made for tourists to enjoy the most of their time in this unique place. If you have more questions don’t hesitate to ask me for, and if you have enjoyed this post content, you’re welcome to follow me on my social media pages such: