Excursions to the Merzouga Desert in Morocco from Marrakech

If you are ready for a Thousand and One Nights style adventure, the Merzouga desert excursions in Morocco are perfect for you: from luxury camping, camel rides, breathtaking dunes or 4x4 safaris, you will find it all here!

Katherine Betances

Katherine Betances

8 min read

Excursions to the Merzouga Desert in Morocco from Marrakech

Postcard of the Moroccan Desert | ©Maria Sanchez

Merzouga is a favorite destination for travelers from all over the world because of its 150 meters high sand dunes. At the foot of the dunes you will find many campsites and amenities that will make your excursion to the desert of Morocco an adventure off the charts. The Merzouga desert is the perfect setting for unique adventures and today I share with you a list of my favorites.

When talking about Morocco it is almost impossible to avoid thinking about the Sahara Desert, the largest and most diverse desert extension of our planet. In Morocco you will find two popular desert areas. One of them, the Erg Chebbi desert, is just a stone's throw from the town of Merzouga, which is why many call this city "the Gateway to the Desert''.

The ideal option

Merzouga Desert 3-Day Trip from Marrakech

Three-day excursion in the Merzouga desert with professional guide

Enjoy the Saharan dunes, ride a camel, admire the sunrise and live the experience of the deep desert. You will get to know the Berber culture in first person and the environment they inhabit.

About 600 km from Marrakech is the wonderful desert of Merzouga that without a doubt I recommend you to visit if you have a few days in Morocco.

This proposal to spend 3 days in the desert, is one of the most complete that you will find and it is worth it, as it is not a usual experience in a tourist itinerary. You will visit the dunes of the Sahara, Berber settlements and other nomadic communities and of course, you will see the most impressive landscapes you can imagine.

Always accompanied by a professional guide, you can ride a camel for 2 hours and choose between a quad tour or finish your tour in the neighboring city of Fez. The excursion also includes all meals, transfers and accommodation, the second night in a tent in the middle of the desert!

Recommended if... you have enough days to explore Morocco and you enjoy adventures. With this three-day activity you can experience the desert in all its splendor.

Book your 3 days excursion to the desert of Merzouga

Excursion to Merzouga desert by camel at sunrise or sunset.

Camel ride in Merzouga| ©Saâd Jebbour
Camel ride in Merzouga| ©Saâd Jebbour

Traveling by camel among the dunes is an almost obligatory activity if you visit the desert of Merzouga. Depending on the company you hire the tour will start in the late afternoon or early morning.

It takes 30 minutes to reach the sand dunes, the camels should stay about 80 meters from the highest dunes of Merzouga. From here, if you want to enjoy a panoramic view you will have to climb to the top of the dunes in an average 10 minutes walk. If you don't want to climb to the top, the area around the dunes is equally perfect for admiring the sun set or sunrise.

Sunset usually takes about 30 minutes, giving you plenty of time to rest and take all the pictures you want. At the end of the experience, you ride your camel back to Merzouga. The tour usually includes an additional stop at a point of interest.

Sunrise tour with camping and activities in the desert

Campfire in Merzouga| ©Tomáš Malík
Campfire in Merzouga| ©Tomáš Malík

Spending the night in a desert camp is one of the motivations that leads thousands of travelers from around the world to visit the dunes of Merzouga.

This alternative is particularly interesting for the possibility of being able to combine a night camping under the stars, with a camel ride to see the sunrise in the desert and many other activities. I don't think you can do something similar anywhere else in the world.

What are the camps like?

Camping in the desert is an interesting adventure. Aside from how rustic or uncomfortable camping can be for many, the truth is that most of the campsites in the Erg Chebbi desert have a surprising level of luxury.

As a result, the experience of camping under the stars in the Sahara is known as glamping. The amenities on offer vary depending on the company you hire and the type of accommodation.

  • With standard accommodation: They offer single bed, dinner, breakfast, camel rides.
  • With deluxe accommodation: They offer large bed, individual bathroom, washbasin, Wifi, tables and chairs inside the Berber tent.

I recommend looking in detail at the accommodation options and prices, since as a general rule those that include a greater number of amenities or additional activities tend to cost a little more.

Book your 3 day trip to the Merzouga Desert

4X4 Safari desert excursion

Visiting Hassi Labied| ©bachmont
Visiting Hassi Labied| ©bachmont

You can opt for a 4X4 Safari to move to the dunes of the desert of Merzouga and explore the area in a different way. Get ready to explore the dunes accompanied by an expert guide and enjoy a beautiful sunset over the mountains of sand.

In this type of excursion you will discover not only the desert but also the surroundings of Merzouga. The adventure includes stops at points of interest such as: visit the lead mines of Mifis, visit the seasonal lake, meet the nomadic families of the desert or visit the Hassi Labied village with its gardens.

Book your 3 days excursion to the desert of Merzouga

What to do in the Merzouga desert

Night photography in Merzouga| ©Jaanus Jagomägi
Night photography in Merzouga| ©Jaanus Jagomägi


If your trip to Merzouga includes a few hours of leisure, sandboarding is an option. This adventure generally includes professional boards and the necessary safety equipment.

I do not recommend it for beginners. If you have previous experience on a surfboard or skateboard, sliding down the dunes is another possibility to enjoy the Sahara desert that adrenaline lovers will appreciate.

Enjoy a sunrise in the desert

If you decide to spend the night in one of the camps in Erg Chebbi you should prepare for one of the most important events of the experience: the sunrises in the dunes.

At approximately 06:00 hours we campers stand up to walk through the dunes and admire how the sun rises over the sand. This is one of the most magnificent spectacles you will ever see in your life.

This spectacle can be combined with a camel ride which will save you from having to walk. Many camps include a camel ride at sunrise among their list of experiences.

Take pictures at night

Due to the low light pollution in the area, night photography in the desert is really impressive and the clear sky at night in Erg Chebbi allows you to count billions of stars. If you are a lover of photography and have good photographic equipment, take advantage of your night in the desert to take night shots of one of the most perfect skies on the planet.

Book your 3-day excursion to the desert of Merzouga

How to get to the Merzouga desert in Morocco?

By 4x4 of the Merzouga Guided Tour| ©Artur Aldyrkhanov
By 4x4 of the Merzouga Guided Tour| ©Artur Aldyrkhanov

Before, you must take into account that the Merzouga desert is located near the town of Merzouga and that getting to this area of Merzouga from Marrakech is not the easiest task. A one way trip can take up to 12 hours depending on the method used.

Option I: Guided tours from Marrakech

My favorite alternative of all. A guided tour from Marrakech is able to free you from worries and the need to plan. It is the perfect alternative if you are visiting the country for the first time and the ideal option for those tourists who wish to have a hassle-free vacation. The minimum price to pay for this experience is 100€

Option II: Rent your own transportation

Although this alternative requires a little more planning on your part, it is a very attractive option, as you can organize your own stops along the way, visit interesting historical sites and stay as long as you deem prudent.

Renting a small, simple car in Marrakech will cost you approximately 8 to 10 € per day. Consider fuel and tolls as additional expenses.

Option III Taking the bus route from Marrakech

Some local companies offer bus services from the main Moroccan cities to destinations such as Merzouga. This is an interesting option for those traveling on a tight budget.

Where will you sleep on your trip to the Merzouga desert?

Camping in the Desert| ©Jaanus Jagomägi
Camping in the Desert| ©Jaanus Jagomägi

Merzouga is a destination that offers travelers different accommodation options. You can enjoy the goodness and fun of the desert during the day, staying in a comfortable hotel in the village or you can also live an immersive experience camping under the stars in one of the luxury camps located in the desert.

If you decide to stay in Merzouga village

The desert is only a 10-minute camel ride away. However, getting to the highest dunes, the most interesting attraction, usually takes 30 minutes of camel riding. In any case, the time flies by distracted by the beauty of the landscape.

Camping in the desert

Another alternative is to do Glam Camp, really comfortable luxury camping options that will allow you to spend the night in the Sahara desert surrounded by dunes in the sands of Erg Chebbi.

Some accommodation options worth exploring:

Book your 3 days excursion to Merzouga desert

What is the best time of the year to visit the Merzouga desert?

Visiting Merzouga| ©Jeff Jewiss
Visiting Merzouga| ©Jeff Jewiss

The best time to visit Merzouga is between spring and autumn. By this time the weather in Morocco tends to be a little more pleasant, making the strenuous activities in the sun more bearable than in the extreme heat of summer.

Bear in mind that spring brings sporadic sandstorms, although tour operators are well equipped to deal with such eventualities.

Many travelers find the warm summer nights in the desert appealing and prefer this time of year to avoid getting cold when the temperature drops. However, the heat of the day can be very exhausting and in some years with extreme heat many operators have been forced to close their tours in the months of July and August.

Winter is another season that often attracts travelers from all over the world to the Merzouga desert. The presence of clouds in the desert causes the daytime temperature to become very pleasant, however, the nights can be quite cold. If you are a person who can handle low temperatures this is an option you may want to consider.

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Other desert excursions

In Zagora| ©gemmmm
In Zagora| ©gemmmm

For other excursion alternatives to the Moroccan Sahara desert explore this information.