Picturing Marrakech, we would think of the aroma of spices, the colors of the desert, the bustle of the souk... and the camels. Riding a camel through the landscapes of Marrakech is a fascinating experience: let me tell you all about it in the following lines.
1. The best camel rides in Marrakech
The first thing you should know if you don't know the city, is that riding a camel in the center of Marrakech is a bit difficult: you have to do it during an excursion to the desert and there are several routes and options available. I'll tell you all about it so you can choose the one you like the most.
- Agafay desert day trip with camel ride - From $ 36
- One hour camel ride in the palm grove of Marrakech - From $ 40
2. Day trip to the Agafay desert with camel ride
It is one of the most popular options: a roundtrip excursion from Marrakech to the Agafay desert, located at the foot of the Atlas Mountains and enjoy the wonderful waterfalls of the area and the view of different Berber villages during your camel ride. Early in the morning, a driver will pick you up at your hotel (when booking online you will be asked for your details via email) and take you to the desert area.
In one of these villages, there will be free time for lunch: for an additional $ 8 to the price of the excursion you will be offered lunch in a local house, but you can also explore the surroundings at your leisure and look for some typical dishes to try or even bring your food (the latter I do not recommend because of the weight of the backpack during the camel ride and because the drink will get warm during the day).
Why I like this tour
What I liked most about this excursion is that the experience includes not only the camel ride (if you are wondering, you are not going to take the camel on your own, there is always a guide who will be with you) but also beautiful views and close contact with the local people who will invite you to drink the Berber tea (based on my experience I can tell you that, depending on the case, in Morocco "hot" can mean "boiling" when it comes to tea).
The locals are used to contact with the tourist population so it is easy to understand them (at least the younger ones) in French or English and, in any case, the tour guide can translate. Despite being aware that this is an organized experience, I still found it very authentic because of the kind treatment given by the whole family to the members of the excursion group.
- Atlas Mountains
- Atlas Waterfalls
- The valley of Imlil
- The Asni Valley
- The Amizmiz Valley
- The Argan women's cooperative
- Different Berber villages
3. One hour camel ride in the Palm Grove of Marrakech
The palm grove of Marrakech or the oasis of La Palmeraie is an area located north of the city at a distance of about half an hour by car. The area is very beautiful and a visit on camelback is a very pleasant ride. This camel ride excursion in the Palmeraie is recommended for those who have little time during the trip (and therefore are not interested in reaching the desert) but do not want to miss the experience of riding a camel.
You will take this tour with a group of no more than 15 people and will be picked up at your hotel at the agreed time. The driver of an air-conditioned minivan will wait for you during the excursion and then return to drop you off at your hotel. The total time of the excursion will be two hours and the camel ride will be one hour.
You have the possibility of doing this same tour on your own by taking a cab to the area of La Palmeraie; the disadvantage is that the price of the cab you have to add the price that the camel drivers set once there, so it may not be worth it. In addition, it is common that the camel drivers set a rate and then the ride is shorter than the one within the organized tours.
4. Half-day excursion to Jebilet desert with camel ride
An intermediate option between using a full day for the camel ride and doing the short tour of the Afueras de Marrakech is this half-day excursion to the Jebilet desert with a camel ride. It lasts about half a day (with one departure in the morning and one in the afternoon). The destination is Jebilet, a stone desert north of the city, the camel ride lasts about two hours and you will have tea and pancake with local inhabitants of the area.
This tour is available in English and French. A driver will pick you up at your hotel at the chosen time and, together with a small group of about 16 people maximum, will drive you to the Jebilet desert area where your tour begins. At this point, a local guide will show you how to get on the camel and guide you through a tour of the area. If you keep your balance, do not forget to take pictures during the tour for the memory, the area deserves it.
At a certain point along the route, there will be a stop for tea and pancakes with a local family who will tell you interesting stories about life in the desert and the main rituals of the Berber people.
5. Frequently asked questions about camel rides
Is it difficult to ride a camel?
Riding a camel is not like riding a horse, it is just a matter of sitting correctly and coordinating your movement with that of the animal to avoid back pain. The guide will explain how to do it, but it does not involve any difficulty although the movement of the camel can be uncomfortable for some people.
If you think this may be your case, choose a short short walk or one with breaks along the way. Avoid the experience if you have back problems and, of course, if at any time you feel uncomfortable tell your guide without any problem; you can continue the tour on foot.
Will I know how to steer the camel?
The camels on this type of tour go in caravan. That is to say; the expert guide leads a row of camels and the others follow him. The camels are very calm and docile animals and they are also used to carrying tourists, so you don't have to be afraid and just let yourself go.
Can children ride a camel?
Children under 12 years old must be accompanied on this type of tour, mainly to avoid falling off the camel because they cannot keep their balance, not because the animal will reveal itself. The minimum age to ride the camel is two years old.
Is the experience recommended for pregnant women?
To avoid falls or back pain, this experience is not recommended for pregnant women.
What clothes should I wear?
The most important thing is that it is comfortable clothing. If you wear shorts, the friction with the camel's saddle may be uncomfortable, so I recommend long, loose pants and sneakers that allow you to support yourself to keep your balance properly. Remember that it is hot and it is best to wear light clothing that protects you from the sun. Sometimes the camel drivers themselves will give you typical desert clothing to wear during the trip to protect you from the sun.
Is it possible to visit the desert without riding a camel?
Excursions to the desert usually involve a camel ride, but this does not mean that it is a prerequisite for visiting or touring the local villages. In fact, the Berbers often go on foot instead of riding a camel, so if you ask them to do so, they will not put any problem to accompany them on foot instead of riding a camel.
6. Get organized for a camel tour
Most of the camel riding tours from Marrakech stand out for the convenience for travelers since on the vast majority of occasions the tour picks you up at your hotel and takes you back once the tour is over. However, there are some details that you should take into account before leaving your hotel:
Make sure to bring water
Don't forget that you are going to ride a camel in the desert; sometimes the camel drivers themselves will provide you with water, but sometimes not. During the ride, there is no place where you can buy water (you are in the desert) and with the heat at least I got quite thirsty during the ride. Fill a bottle of cold water before leaving the hotel and carry it in a backpack.
Protect yourself from the sun
Perhaps the most important of all. The sun hits very hard in the desert, although sometimes the wind blows and you do not realize it. It is normal to use sunscreen on arms and legs, but an area that many forget is the nape of the neck; in fact, turbans are used for that in several of these excursions, and the Berbers themselves sometimes provide it.
Regardless of this, carry a scarf to cover yourself, wear sunglasses and carry sunscreen with you in case you need to use it along the way, especially if it is a half-day or full-day excursion.
Choose the date you want
Camel rides take place almost every day at different times. The groups are usually of the same size so there is no advantage in doing them one day or another due to the influx of people; you can select the date that best suits your travel plans. You won't have any problem with the weather either, as Morocco's climate is usually quite stable.
In the rare case that adverse circumstances arise and the tour is canceled due to rain or a sandstorm, you will be refunded or rescheduled for another day.
Don't worry about food
On the short camel rides you don't have to worry about food because they only last about two hours (transfer to and from the hotel included) and you can eat before or after in the center of Marrakech.
As for the day or half-day excursions, you don't have much to worry about either; at lunchtime, you will either be offered to pay a small extra supplement to have lunch in a Berber house or you will be dropped off at a place where you can buy something on your own. You can carry some snacks in your backpack if you want, but it is usually not necessary on this type of excursion.
Watch out for the photos
Of course, you can take pictures on the camel or ask your guide to take them either before going up or once you are on the camel. Where you have to be careful is to take your camera out during the ride to take pictures of the landscape; the movement of the camel can make you lose your balance (you need your hands to hold on during the ride) and your cell phone or camera can fall to the ground.
Better ask your guide to stop (on occasion, not several times during the tour...) if you want to take a picture.
Gratuities are not included
The price of these tours doesn't include tips to the Berber guide who drives the camel nor to the family who can invite you to tea in the case of longer excursions. It is not necessary, but if you want to give them some money you can do it; not only they will not be offended because they are used to it but they will thank you with kindness.
7. Other interesting activities in Marrakech
If you haven't already, you should consider booking a guided tour of the city. The souk can seem like a labyrinth and with a local guide, you will be sure to visit the most special places without missing any of them. If you feel like going out to discover the surroundings of the city, you are in luck because there are incredible places within walking distance, which allows you to make excursions to spend the day or even go to sleep in the desert one night. I leave you the ones I like the most in this article: Day Trips and Excursions from Marrakech.