How to get to the desert from Marrakech

Explore amazing sand dunes, marvel at the most beautiful sunsets or count a thousand stars under the night sky. The Sahara Desert has a lot to offer and here's how to get there from Marrakech.

Katherine Betances

Katherine Betances

9 min read

How to get to the desert from Marrakech

Postcards from the desert | ©Taryn Elliott

Trips and excursions to the desert are among the most valued experiences by the many hikers who year after year come to Marrakech. To reach its amazing dunes from the red city there are several options but one of the most common is to book an excursion. Read on to find out more.

The best option: an organized excursion

Morocco's desert| ©Oliver
Morocco's desert| ©Oliver

There are three entrances to the Sahara desert from Marrakech, one is through Agafay, one through Merzouga and one through Zagora. Any of the three options are interesting to choose an excursion and enjoy one of the favorite activities without worrying about how to get there.

The prices of these excursions are affordable and hiring any of them is the most comfortable way to go to the desert because it also optimizes your experience by including in many cases accommodation, meals and some activities. The most popular excursions are:

How to get to Agafay desert from Marrakech

Private transportation to the desert| ©Julia Volk
Private transportation to the desert| ©Julia Volk

Among the options studied is the only one that allows you to book a desert travel experience from Marrakech in one day. For this reason, Agafay is the ideal alternative for any traveler who wants to know the desert of Marrakech and has a tight itinerary of time, since it is only 40 minutes away by road.

What is the Agafay desert tour like?

Most of the agencies that offer organized tours of Agafay desert experiences include among their facilities the pick up and drop off of visitors to their hotel in Marrakech.

Thanks to this, you will only have to take care of seeing, among the many options available, what activities you will do in the desert. Some popular alternatives are: camel riding with afternoon tea, water sports on Lake Takerkoust, glamping experiences in luxury tents in the desert, romantic dinner under the stars, lunches and much more.

  • Price: From 34 euros
  • Duration: From 40 minutes for a direct trip to 2 hours if stops at tourist attractions are included before arriving in the desert.

Book your excursion to the desert of Agafay

How to get to the desert of Merzouga from Marrakech

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

The Merzouga desert is the farthest from Marrakech. A road trip will take at least 8.5 hours without stops. Quite an adventure in Morocco! Fortunately from the city of Marrakech you will find excursions that give you everything done.

How is the excursion to the desert of Merzouga?

Several tour operators offer organized tours of the Merzouga desert that will take you from your hotel in Marrakech to the great sand mountains.

This is by far my favorite option, since in addition to avoiding the hassle of planning a long trip in the desert, it also saves us a lot of the inconveniences and unforeseen events that could arise. For a few euros you will have the opportunity to relax and enjoy yourself with very friendly guides whose job is to make your experience as enjoyable as possible.

On a guided tour, the road trip will be a bit longer, possibly 12 hours of transportation. However, it is the perfect opportunity to get to know other destinations of great tourist attraction that are always included in the tours as travel stops.

  • Price: From 96 €.
  • Duration: A guided tour from Marrakech to Merzouga will take at least 3 days.

Book your excursion to the desert of Merzouga

How to get to Zagora desert from Marrakech

Zagora Desert| ©puriy
Zagora Desert| ©puriy

The Zagora desert is located about 6 hours drive from Marrakech; the popular Moroccan city also offers all kinds of transportation options to reach the destination.

How is the excursion to the Zagora desert?

This is my favorite option to visit places like the Zagora desert, since the operators who have been organizing these excursions for decades know how to turn the trip into a totally enjoyable experience for the tourist.

Starting from the hotel in Marrakech, the trip to Zagora includes: stops at points of interest, transportation and accommodation in the desert. Most of your trip will be covered without taking up practically none of your time.

  • Price: From 90€.
  • Duration: The entire trip from Marrakech usually takes 2 to 3 days in total.

Book your Zagora desert tour

The fastest way to get to the desert: by cab

Cabs in Marrakech| ©Mike Finn
Cabs in Marrakech| ©Mike Finn

Finding a cab for transportation from the center of Marrakech to your destination in Agafay is really easy. Cabs are a widely used method and those operating around the hotels usually speak 2 or 3 languages quite easily.

However, moving to the rest of the desert entrances such as Mezourga or Zagora can be much more expensive and not all cab drivers will be willing to travel that far.

When taking cabs in Morocco you should be very careful and always fix the fares in advance and before you get in the car. Cabs here do not use meters and if you do not reach an agreement on the price of the trip the driver can charge you whatever he wants at the end of the trip.

  • Price: Approximately 35 € per trip. Remember to consider the return trip to the hotel.
  • Duration: A maximum of 40 minutes in a non-stop trip.

Book your excursion to the desert of Agafay

The most flexible option to reach the desert: rent a car

Rent a car| ©Brock Wegner
Rent a car| ©Brock Wegner

The car rental business in Marrakech is highly demanded by tourists and local travelers, for this reason getting a car is very easy and in certain scenarios it can be the most reasonable option.

However, it is not an alternative that I recommend for inexperienced travelers who are visiting the city for the first time and are not entirely familiar with its ways and customs. The traffic chaos in Marrakech could prove stressful and overwhelming.


Renting a car may be impractical for getting around for short distances such as the transfer to the Agafay desert. However, it can be quite useful if you are comfortable driving in any country.

  • Price: a single car in Marrakech has a minimum price of 8 € per day. Consider fuel costs as an additional expense.
  • Duration of the trip: The non-stop trip from Marrakech to the Agafay desert will take as little as 40 minutes.


This alternative to get to Merzouga offers many advantages such as the possibility of making a 100% personalized travel itinerary with stops only at your points of interest.

The main disadvantage is that it requires a lot of planning and organization on the part of the traveler, which is why I do not recommend it to those visiting Morocco for the first time.

If you will undertake a road trip from Marrakech to Merzouga, take into consideration that, although you will find many fuel stations, the villages are usually separated by long distances so you should be aware of the indicator.

  • Price: a vehicle in Marrakech will cost you an average of 8€ to 10€, to this you will have to add the cost of fuel and tolls.
  • Duration of the trip: The direct road trip without stops to Merzouga will take at least 10 hours of crossing.


Something very important to remember is that the policemen and most of the people you will meet will not speak English, so you should be prepared to communicate effectively in other languages. On the more positive side having your own transport will allow you to design a tour at your leisure with stops at the main sites to see in Marrakech.

  • Price: a car in Marrakech will cost from 8€ per day. To this you will have to add the cost of fuel and possible tolls.
  • Duration of the trip: The trip by car direct and non-stop from Marrakech to Zagora takes about 7 hours on average.

Book your excursion to the desert of Zagora

The fastest way to get to the desert: by plane.

Morocco airport| ©David Berkowitz
Morocco airport| ©David Berkowitz

Although it is the most expensive, if you do not have too much time to enjoy Marrakech you can consider this option to travel to the desert of Merzouga or Zagora.


If your goal is to reach the desert of Merzouga in the shortest time possible, you can consider doing a part of the trip by plane. Although at the moment there are no direct flights between Merzouga and Marrakech, you can take a flight in the red city to Ouarzazate or to Errachidia. From this point you can hire a cab or take a bus line to your final destination in Merzouga.

This is not an option I recommend due to the additional cost involved but mainly because it limits the experience of the desert crossing to the final destination only.

  • Price: A flight ticket from Marrakech will cost from 130€ onwards. To this you will have to add the price of cab or buses giving a total average of 170€ the trip.
  • Duration: An average of 10 hours from your destination in Marrakech.


The city of Zagora has its own airport, Zagora Airport (OZG). You can take a flight from Marrakech and once in the city hire the services of an excursion tour to reach the desert.

There are two reasons why I do not recommend this option:

1st- flights to Zagora, although short, are difficult to get due to low demand. The company that flies between Marrakech and Zagora isAir Arabia Maroc; most flights include a stopover at Casablanca Airport, a stopover that can take many hours until your next flight.

2º- Flying between cities will not allow you to enjoy the beauty of Morocco, which is ultimately the goal of every traveler.

  • Price: The cheapest flights are around 320€ on average.
  • Duration: Flight time without stopovers is only 2.5 hours in total.

Book your excursion to the desert of Merzouga

The most economical option to get to the desert: the bus

Bus in Marrakech Menara Airport| ©Tim Adams
Bus in Marrakech Menara Airport| ©Tim Adams

Marrakech is the busiest and busiest city in Morocco, so you can take a bus from its main station to reach almost any destination in the country.


Despite being the cheapest option of all is my least favorite due to the many drawbacks it brings: first it is a long and tiring journey in which you will have to sit for a long time and second you will not be able to stop to appreciate the beauties that Morocco has to offer on the route.

  • Price: With an approximate cost of 35 € you can go all the way to the village of Merzouga. From there you can book a day trip through the desert.
  • Duration: If you decide to travel by bus from Marrakech to Merzouga be prepared for at least 16 hours of road without stops.


The bus is an extremely economical option to travel from Zagora to Marrakech but the least recommended for tourists. A bus trip will deprive you of enjoying the beauty of Morocco as you will not be able to stop at any point of interest.

If you choose this option anyway, from Marrakech the transport service company Supratours undertakesdaily trips to Zagora. The bus can be found at the main terminal of the city. Please note that finding operators and service personnel who speak Spanish will be extremely difficult.

  • Price: With less than 18€ you cover the cost of bus travel to Zagora.
  • Duration: Approximate travel time is 8 hours in total.

Book your excursion to the Agafay desert

Where is the desert of Marrakech?

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

When popularly speaking of the Marrakech desert what people are really referring to is the area of the Sahara Desert which is located in the domains of Morocco. The Moroccan Sahara Desert is divided into two major Ergs or dunes: The Erg Chebbi desert in the vicinity of the town of Merzouga and the Erg Chigaga desert in the vicinity of the town of Zagora. For its part the Agafay desert is an arid and rocky area just outside Marrakech, but not a sand desert itself.

For its part, Marrakech is known worldwide as the city of luxury and charm, thanks to its fabulous architecture and diverse cuisine. It is the most popular city in Morocco, the point where the vast majority of tourists traveling from all over the world converge on this oriental paradise.

Morocco is a vast country that offers travelers several desert areas to choose from. So if you intend to travel to the desert from Marrakech you should choose the alternative that best suits your travel itinerary, the length of your stay, the best time of the year to visit Marrakech, your budget and the level of adventure you can handle!

Book your desert excursion