If we were to describe Marrakech, the scent of spices, the colors of the desert, the bustle of the souk... and the camels come to mind. Riding a camel through the landscapes of Marrakech is a fascinating experience.
Explore the palm grove of Marrakech by camel
Discover this popular and fascinating place in the most original way possible, with a camel ride lasting one hour with a professional guide.
On this camel ride through the palm grove of Marrakech, you will have the opportunity to discover the palm grove of Marrakech by camel. A one-hour ride in which you can also mimic the environment by trying on traditional Moroccan Saharan clothes.
In addition, you will not miss any detail as you will be accompanied by an expert guide who will teach you many interesting facts and will immerse you in the customs and local culture. And not only that, but you will also have the opportunity to visit a Berber village and, once the tour is over, you can enjoy a mint tea.
Recommended if... going with family or friends is even more fun.
Excursions to the desert with Camel Rides
If you want to ride a camel during your visit to Marrakech, you have several options. Come with me and I will explain in detail so that you have no doubt about which one to choose.
Day trip to the Agafay desert with camel ride
It is one of the most popular options: go and return in the same day 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 various Berber villages during your camel ride. Early in the morning, a driver will pick you up from your hotel and take you to the desert area.
In one of these villages there will be free time for lunch: for an additional six euros to the price of the tour 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 own 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).
What I liked most about this excursion is that the experience includes not only the camel ride but also beautiful views and close contact with the local people who will invite you for Berber tea. The locals are used to the 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 guide can translate. Despite being aware that this is a "prepared" experience I still found it very authentic.
Excursion to the desert of Zagora
On this 2-day excursion to the Zagora desert, which is located seven hours from Marrakech, you will live an incredible adventure, as you will sleep under the stars in a Berber camp, visit the city of Ait Ben Haddou and ride a camel. A very complete experience in which you will go with an expert guide who will tell you many details of the place and how to live in the desert.
In addition, transportation is included, so you can forget about worrying in this regard having the opportunity to enjoy some dream landscapes. And if you are one of those who like to do gastronomic tourism, with this excursion you will have the opportunity to enjoy a dinner and a typical breakfast.
Excursion to the desert of Merzouga
In this three-day excursion to the desert of Merzouga you will live a real journey, and it is located no less than 600 kilometers from Marrakech. Accompanied by an expert guide who will give you all the details about this impressive place, known as the pearl of the Sahara desert, you will enjoy a 2-hour camel ride. It also includes dinners and breakfasts, so you will be able to taste the Moroccan gastronomy.
Of course, this experience includes accommodation and one of the nights you will sleep in a camp in the middle of the desert. Yes, just as you read, something unforgettable. In addition, if you are a wildlife lover, you will not be disappointed, since in this desert you can find several species such as desert foxes, the spiny-tailed lizard or the sand viper.
You have to know that this proposal has two options to choose from: the quad tour or an excursion that concludes in Fez.
Half day excursion to the desert of Jebilet with camel ride
An intermediate option between spending a full day for the camel ride and doing the short tour outside Marrakech is this half day excursion to the Jebilet desert with 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 from 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 of the tour, there will be a stop for tea and pancakes with a local family who will tell you interesting stories about how to live in the desert and what are the main rituals of the Berber people.
Is camel riding in Marrakech worth it?
Camel riding is a very demanded experience among people who travel to Morocco and, without a doubt, you will not have the opportunity to do it in many places.
If you wonder if riding a camel is like riding a horse, I will tell you that it is not. 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 is not difficult, although the movement may be uncomfortable for some people. If you think this may be your case, choose a short ride or one with breaks. Avoid the experience if you have back problems and if at any time you feel uncomfortable tell your guide.
Also, keep in mind that the camels in this type of tours go in a caravan. That is to say; the expert guide leads a line of camels and the others follow him. 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.
When can you take a camel ride in Marrakech?
Camel rides take place almost every day at different times. The groups are usually the same size so there is no advantage in doing them one day or another due to crowds; you can select the date that best suits your travel plans.
You won't have any problems with the weather either, as in Morocco the climate is usually quite stable. In the rare case that adverse circumstances arise and the ride is cancelled due to rain or a sandstorm, you will be refunded or rescheduled for another day.
Can children ride a camel?
Children under 12 years of age 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 is going to reveal itself.
However, the minimum age to ride a camel is two years old.
What recommendations should I take into account when riding a camel?
Most camel riding tours from Marrakech are very convenient for travelers as the tour usually picks you up at your hotel and takes you back once the tour is over. However, there are a few things you should keep in mind before leaving your hotel:
- Bring water: don't forget that you will be riding 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.
- Wear comfortable clothes: If you wear shorts it is possible that rubbing against the camel's saddle may be uncomfortable, so I recommend long and wide pants with sneakers that allow you to support you to keep your balance properly. Remember that it is hot and it is better to wear light clothes but at the same time protect 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.
- Protect yourself from the sun: The sun is very strong 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, bring a scarf to cover yourself, wear sunglasses and carry sunscreen with you in case you need to use it along the way.
- Don't worry about food: On short camel rides you don't have to worry about food because they only last about two hours. 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 at 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.
- Be careful with photos: Of course, you can take photos on the camel or ask your guide to take them either before you go up or once you are on top. Where you have to be careful is to take your camera out during the ride to take pictures of the scenery; the movement of the camel can make you lose your balance and your cell phone or camera fall to the ground. Better ask your guide to stop if you want to take a picture.
- Tips are not included: The price of these tours does not include tips either to the Berber guide who drives the camel or to the family who may 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 kindly.
Frequently asked questions about camel rides
Is the experience recommended for pregnant women?
To avoid falls or back pain, the experience is not recommended for pregnant women.
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 the desert or touring the local villages. In fact, the Berbers often go on foot instead of riding a camel, so if you request it, they will not put any problem to accompany them on foot instead of riding a camel.
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 corners without missing any. 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: 10 Day Trips and Excursions from Marrakech.