There is absolutely nothing like the pleasures of going up a soaring Sahara desert sand dunes at sunset to see the sundown, or to experience the tranquility when strolling for a whole day without seeing another person. An expedition in the desert is more like a subjective experience than it is a journey to see a new place in the world.

Best Time To Visit Sahara Desert

The best time to visit the desert is from December to February since the sun is not as intense as other months of the year. During this time period, the daytime temperatures are comfortable ranging from 68º F – 80º F ( 20º C – 26º C)

Spring is a terrific season as well to enjoy the fantastic view of flowers and plants in the desert and around sand dunes.

Our 4 days 3 nights desert trip Marrakech to Merzouga

Day 1 Marrakech – Ait Ben Haddou – Dades Gorges

This morning Journey to my dream destination Sahara desert will start from our accommodation Riad Mouna located in old Medina, Marrakesh. In case you are wondering what Riad is, it’s a traditional Moroccan house with a garden on the inside and surrounded by beautiful Moroccan architecture with telework. Perfect place to experience authentic Moroccan lifestyle. Eco Desert Morocco organized our trip, customized precisely based on our area of interest.

Medina of Marrakesh
Inside Medina of Marrakesh. Founded in 1070–72 an old fortified city packed with vendors and their stalls


Quick Stop At The Tizi N’Tichka Pass

Tizi N’Tichka, is a mountain pass, located in the high Atlas mountains a gateway to the Sahara desert linking the south-east of Marrakesh to the city of Ouarzazate. It took us about two hours to get to the mountain pass from Marrakech.

Tizi n’Tichka, Morocco
Tizi n’Tichka – High Atlas Mountains Pass a gateway to the Sahara desert

The view from the lookout point is so beautiful, so it’s good idea to have enough time to relax and to explore at an elevation of 2,260 meters (7,410 ft) instead of just photo ops.

Tizi n’Tichka
Tizi n’Tichka – At the elevation of 2,260 meters (7,410 ft) there are shops and restaurants to explore!

Next stop in Berber village

We visited a village, took some great pictures, had a glass of mint tea and took it easy to enjoy the beautiful landscape before continuing on the twisted road through the Berber villages towards our final destination.

mint tea
Having a glass of mint tea and enjoying the beautiful landscape in the Morning! Photo Credit – Rusafa Mahmood

Visit Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou

We arrived at Aït Benhaddou an UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Qunila Vally of Ouarzazate around 1 pm. Since it was lunch time already, we decided to have our lunch first before heading to the Ksar right across the street.

We had delicious gilled meat with traditional spices and Chicken Tagine with vegetable at a local restaurant.

Grilled meat
Mix Grilled Meat with rice and vegetables !

If you are in Morocco then you can’t miss one of their popular dish called Tagine such as Chicken, lamb, beef, vegetable, egg tagine. Here we tried steaming hot chicken Tagine.

Chicken Tagine
Chicken Tagine with Vegetables cooked with local spices ! 

After lunch we crossed the Ounila river by jumping the stepping stones to get to Ait Benhaddou, this  Kasbah (a fortified village in English or ksar in Arabic) is one of the largest in Morocco. It was great to see how local leaders used to live in old days and defend when their city was under attack. Many hit shows and movies were shot here like Gladiator, Indiana Jones, Games of Thrones, Prince of Persia, King Tut and many more.

Ait-Ben-Haddou, Sahara Desert
A View of Ait-Ben-Haddou through the wall ! Photo Credit – Rusafa Mahmood

Next Stop Ouarzazate (pronounced war-zazat)

It took us less than an hour to get to Ouarzazate from Ait Benhaddou. Ouarzazate is a famous tourist town for it’s proximity to Ziz, Draa and Dades valleys, and the 19th century Kasbah Taouirirt is not far from the town which was used as a base to controlled the caravan route through the region at the time.

This small town with a backdrop of the magnificent mountain landscape and the fascinating Sahara desert is known as gateway to Sahara desert.

Taourirt Kasbah in Ouarzazate
Beautiful view of Taourirt Kasbah in Ouarzazate, Morocco

Overnight Stay at Dades Gorge

Driving distance from Ouarzazate to our hotel in Dades Gorge was about 2 hours (82 miles / 132 km) The Dadès Gorges are a series of rocky canyon carved out by the Dadès River in Morocco. The river begins in the High Atlas chain of the Atlas mountains, flowing some 220 miles (330 km) southwest before meeting the Draa River at the border of the Sahara.

Accommodations in Dades Gorge

Auberge Panorama Dades, Gorges de Dades, 45150 Aït Ben Ali, Morocco

Location of this hotel was great with a beautiful view of the rolling mountains and the valley. As this was part of our package tour so breakfast and dinner was included with our stay.

Auberge Panorama Dades, Gorges de Dades
Auberge Panorama Dades Hotel in Dades Gorges where we stayed overnight!

Day 2: Dades Gorge – Todra Gorge – Merzouga

Today on the 2nd day of our trip we woke up early, had complementary breakfast and was on the road again by 8:00am.

Driving Through the Dades valley

After breakfast in the hotel, drive back through the valley to see the amazing rock which looks like monkey’s hands.

Dades Valley, Morocco
The amazing rock in Dades Valley which looks like monkey’s hands.

Experience the Amazing view of Dades Gorge

The Dadès Gorges are a series of rugged wadi gorges carved out by the Dadès River in Morocco. The river originates in the High Atlas range of the Atlas mountains, flowing some 350 kilometres (220 mi) southwest before joining the Draa River at the edge of the Sahara.

Dades Gorge
We took the zig zag road all the way to get this beautiful view of Dades Gorge

Stop and Enjoy What Ziz Valley Has to Offer

On our way to Todra Gorge, we made a quick stop at the beautiful Ziz valley in the city of Er Rachidia. The picturesque Ziz River, the gorge and many of the abandoned kasbahs can be viewed from multiple roadside viewpoints alongside the valley.

Ziz Valley
A view of Ziz Valley from the highway!

Todra Gorge Another Beautiful Place To Explore

The Dodra Vally is about 110 miles (120 km) north east of Ouarzazate. The series of limestone river canyons made it one of the most spectacular canyons in the world.

Walking through the canyons along the river’s edge with the stunning landscapes of gorges was unforgettable. I still remember the scene of shepherds of nomadic tribes and of Todra high up the slopes of the mountain.

Todra Gorge
It was beautiful experience to walk through the narrow path in Todra Gorge

Finally at Merzouga

We arrived Merzouga at 4 pm, it’s a small village at the edge of Erg Chebbi dunes which reaches as hight as 150 meters and altogether spans an area of 22 kilometers from north to south and up to 5-10 kilometers from east to west. Only about 40 kilometers southeast of Rissani, about 55 kilometers from Erfoud, and about 20 kilometers from the Algerian border. 

Sahara ATV/Moro Quad Adventure in Erg-Chebbi Dunes

We rented a Quad for two hours, not too many tourists as the winter temperatures are cold and only slightly about 10º C during the day. 

After going up and down through numerous dunes our guide finally took us to the very top of a sand dune, from where we had the most spectacular view of the area. Not a single person in the area all we could hear was the sound of the wind and shifting sands, what an experience totally unforgettable. This exciting adventure is a must do event if you are in Merzouga.

ATV Quad Adventures in Sahara desert
During our ATV Quad Adventures, we followed our guide, without him we would have been lost.

Accommodation Central Merzouga

Nomad Palace, Ctra. Merzouga – Taouz, km,7, 52202 Merzouga, Morocco

Nomad Palace, Merzouga
Nomad palace in Merzouga where we stayed for a night !

Day 3: Merzouga and the area of Erg Chebbi

Today is the 3rd day of our trip, we plan to visit an oasis in Merzouga, lunch at Nomads tent, enjoy Gnawa Music at black Berber village, Visit Dayet Srji salt lake and finally camel ride to enjoy the sunset.

Explore Erg-Chebbi Area by Visiting Nomad Tent

In the desert, we visited a nomad village and had our wood-fired nomad pizza for lunch and mint tea sitting in a traditional tent.

Sahara Desert
Nomad tent in Sahara Desert where we had our Berber Pizza for lunch!

Visit The Village of The Blacks

The Gnaoua tribe and its music has its origins in an area from Sudan. Visiting a village just 7 km from Merzouga was exciting. Many of the black berber still lives there where we enjoyed their traditional dance and music.

Black Berber
We visited a village of black berber and enjoyed their performance on Gnawa Music.

Visit Dayet Srji salt lake, just west of Merzouga

Dayet Srji salt lake is in Tamzgidat village, close to Merzouga. Even though there is not much rain in that area but still the lake gets water fed from the High Atlas Mountains enough for local bird populations, including flamingos.

Dayet Srji salt lake in Merzouga. Photo Credit –

Camel Ride To Watch Sunset in Erg Chebbi

We started our Camel-Trek at 3:30 pm, in about two hours into the ride, crossing numerous dunes we finally arrived at the top of the higher dune. From there we had a spectacular view of the sunset. After watching the sunset, we continue our camel journey to our desert camp where we spent our night in a tent.

Erg Chebbi sunset
Camel-Trek to see the spectacular desert sunset I have ever seen.

Stay Overnight in The Desert Tent

Sahara Desert Luxury Camp, Merzouga village, 52202 Merzouga, Morocco

The desert luxury camp was surrounded by rolling sand dunes of Erg Chebbi with an excellent view of early morning sunrise and sunset. Getting to this camp from Merzouga the nearest town in Sahara was adventurous. Camel ride about 2 hours will take you there, that includes climbing to the top of a relatively higher sand dune for a better view of the sunset in the Sahara desert.

Sahara Desert Luxury Camp, Merzouga village
Sahara Desert Luxury Camp in the middle of sand dunes where we stayed overnight.

Day 4: Merzouga – Marrakech

Sunrise Camel-Trek – Erg Chebbi Dunes

6:00 am in the morning camel man picked us up from our desert tent and brought us to watch one of the most amazing sunrise of our life. Afterwards, camel-trek back to our tent.

Sahara Desert
Early morning Camel ride in Erg Chebbi Sand Dunes and watching Sunrise!

After Breakfast in Desert Camp Trip Back to Marrakech

After a remarkable stay in a desert tent surrounded by spectacular Erg Chebbi dunes, time for us to return back to Marrakech.

A Quick Stop at Traditional Market in Rissani

The Rissani is a small town only 25 miles (42 km) from Merzouga so, we decided to pay a visit to a market that is known as one of the most important markets in the region, both in terms of nature, architectural, and strategic location occupied by or given the volume of trade and craft activities.

Sahara Desert
Traditional Rissani market it’s a place where locals not only shop but also gather for socialization!

Arrival in Marrakech

Accommodation in Marrakech

Riad Jona, 34 Derb Jdid, Marrakech 40040, Morocco

Riad Jona is conveniently located in the center of the old city. Walking distance to the Jemaa El Fna Square widely known for its night market, Bahia Palace and The famous Koutoubia Mosque. It also offers a rooftop terrace, a Turkish steam bath, and an outdoor pool. We liked having our Moroccan dinner at their restaurant. Luggage storage was an added convenience for us to match our itinerary.

Riad Jona Guest House
Riad Jona was in the heart of Medina, a great place to stay in Marrakech

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Sahara Desert Trip

Hasan Mahmud

Traveler, Blogger, and Travel Photographer!

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