Morocco can’t be visited without watching the desert. Riding massive sand dunes on camelback and spending a night at the center of nowhere under the most starry skies you have already found is a marvelous experience which is usually ranked as a, (if not THE) highlight of one’s drive to Morocco. Multiple locations would be a great point of entry however the finest and hottest is Merzouga, the gateway to Erg Chebbi. It get’s a lot better: this trip may be coupled with visiting Hollywood-famous ruins, the rocky Atlas-mountains, monkey-forests and lush green datepalm-gorges! We did re-search and ventured available to arrive at the very best strategy to maximize the visit of yours to the magical Moroccan desert.
- Practical Information –
When: the Moroccan summer heat is simply way too intense to properly benefit from the wasteland in these weeks. Better are spring (end March – mid May) and autumn (end September – end November) whenever the sun shines from dusk till dawn and also the day highs average out at around 25 30 degrees Celcius.
In & Out: The gateway to the Erg Chebbi desert is Merzouga, and that doesn’t have its very own terminal. In case you want flying, the very best choice of yours would be to fly into Ouarzazate after which conteinue by either a rental or even by bus.
From Fez or perhaps Marrakech you are able to have a CTM line, the Marrakech line additionally stops in Quarzazate. There aren’t any trains running to Merzouga.
The best 2 choices in the opinion of mine, nonetheless, are often taking a desert tour from Marrakech (or maybe Fez) or even venturing out on your individual wheels. In case you choose leasing an automobile you would be best adviced to carrying out a very similar course because the only one I explain below under’ – The Trip-‘ because it involves amazing locations and stops of attention along the means back and forth from the wasteland. Equally important: it’s the path most traveled. If your car breaks down, chances are extremely high you will not be stranded for way too long.
Budget: A three day two nights tour is going to set you back anywhere between 900 – 3000 MAD (although there’ll most likely be great luxurious tours which top that). This consists of accommodation, a camel-ride, dinners, breakfasts, a guided tour in the (Todra) gorge but excludes an instructions manual in Ait Benhaddou (fifty MAD extra). Consider into consideration hundred MAD p.p.p.d. for lunch, ten MAD for a 1.5L container of water, a couple of additional Dirhams for many snacks and several to tip guides, the driver and perhaps to purchase certain souvenirs.
Car-rental in Morocco starts at 250 MAD one day, though it’s recommended to select a 4WD for this particular journey that is going to set you back at very least double. Take into account an one way charge of around 700 MAD in case you’re not returning the automobile of yours to the same spot. Gas isn’t too costly in Morocco (aproximatelly 10-15 MAD a liter) an d accommodation completely depends upon the amount of luxury you desire. for 300MAD you will see a simple space in a genuine charming Berber guesthouse. plan to spend 100MAD additional for a warmed space (nights are able to be extremely cool in the higher Atlas).
- Options –
As I stated before there are many places where you are able to enter the desert. The 2 most widely used choices (because of the accessibility) are definitely the Erg Chebbi dunes near Merzouga and also the Erg Chigaga dunes near Zagora. The latter is a tad much more off the beaten path and also usually this is the choice of mine, nonetheless, Erg Chebbi’s location (further on the North) is much more advantageous for discovering others sights and for moving on to Fez. The drive I explain below isn’t simply a visit to the wilderness, it’s a three day completely immersed programme which takes you deep into the Altas Mountains, brings you to earth friendly valleys and gorges with rich date palms, up into ice cold cedar forests where Berber Macaque monkeys roam and in addition to that all into the mighty sand dunes on the Sahara desert.
Moving into the desert may either be accomplished using a tour or even going out on your individual wheels (though you will still have to opt for an enterprise to actually ride in the desert on camelback – this could be set up on the location in Merzouga). Private-tours are expensive but due to lower labor costs not as expensive as you may expect in other areas across the world. They supply the additional advantage you are able to stop taking pictures or even pull in detours/ bypass sights on request. I’d suggest going for a group tour if you’re not traveling around Morocco by automobile. It is going to take all stress out of the hands of yours, gives an exceptional value for cash and also combines transportation between cities with a trip to the desert and also the mountains saving away time that is precious when on vacation (embrace the’ no-road-back travel style’!).
The very best choice is beginning the tour of yours in Marrakech with a drop off in Fez. You are able to go another way around but since a lot fewer folks pick that selection, prices are usually greater. When you would like to go from Marrakech to Fez directly the bus is going to take no less than nine hours. The train around eight, taking you along the coastline passing by Casablanca, Meknes and also Rabat across the right way.
- Taking a wilderness trip –
The Morocco desert tour described here’s how many tours are like. The path, the stops the transport. Apart from providing you with an impression on just how such a tour is like it too forms a great base itinerary for all those that favor using the path themselves.
Only just after dawn (around 7:30 AM), you will get purchased from your ho(s)tel by the’ tour-guide’. After you are transferred to the mini van which is going to be the home of yours for the next couple of days you say farewell to this guidebook and don’t see him again.. never to stress the tour utilizes local guides for the main sights and the driver knows and also speaks good English. In a low number of hours, you drive to Ait Benhaddou, a centuries old fortified city which was partly rebuilt to develop the decor for a lot of Hollywood blockbusters like Jewel of the Nile, The Mummy, Gladiator and the HBO series Game Of Thrones. The old’ Kasbahs’ are the sight and also you will feel as if an effective Indiana Jones if you hike between century old sandstone wall surfaces and also vaguely begin to recall several movie scenes which were shot here. The guided walk takes around an hour and after that you head to a nearby spot to have lunch.
We were ushered into an extremely touristy eatery with several tour-groups and several levels eating there. If you will end up there (and you will realize it if you do) – leave. Because you are investing in your own lunch you’re completely free to have it elsewhere and there are much better alternatives out there. The food at the important tourist stop is incredibly dull and lacking taste. In addition to that, the girlfriend of mine and I caught food poisoning there, that resulted in a complete night of intense vomiting. Not the very best preparation for going out there into the desert.
After lunch, you will drive through great mountain and desert scenery and also have a super quick stop at Quarzazate, a really charming town which even played host to numerous Hollywood movies. When you are traveling yourself this may be also a great area to commit the evening and night as well as investigate a bit more of the town. The tour goes on into Date Country in which you will have dinner and also spend the evening. The minivan is going to drop off each tour group at their respective hotel/guesthouse beginning with the most luxurious one so forth. With I Go Morocco you will remain at a really charming and also authentic guesthouse. Mom’s making tonight and is a hell of a cook so you will be sure going to sleep with a complete stomach. Be sure you will have sufficient blankets as the evenings here get freezing and also remember you followed the suggestion of mine to not spend more for heating? Yeah…. and so the room of yours is going to get freezing too.
Next morning you will see you slept in a lovely valley because you rise to a magnificent view. You will head deeper into date country and make the way of yours to Todra Gorge. To start, you will pass along the valley as well as watch the large gorge from up top full of luscious green datepalms all after Todra River. Then, you will head down into the gorge in which you will get an instructions manual and also head out there to the gorge by foot. You meander through an extremely tranquil landscape, along the river and through olive trees and farmlands. The visit ends at a carpet weavery where they show you the various techniques they employ to weave carpets. Obviously, there’s the choice to buy a carpet however the salesmen aren’t pushy at all. The visit and walk take aproximatelly 2.5 hours. After a little drive, you will have lunch at a great small restaurant at the riverside. Once again, you’re completely free to pick the own area of yours though the restaurant is really very charming and the options are a little much more restricted than on the very first day.
After lunchtime, the trip consistently Merzouga where paved road gets supplanted by a dirt track. Here’s exactly where the actual adventure starts. You will get off at one of the numerous hotels in Merzouga in which you will provide your great bag to go out to the desert on camelback with just a tiny daypack for the evening. Riding on a camel on substantial sand dunes (up to 300 meters high) that continuously shift styles due to the gradually setting sun is simply sensational. After twenty minutes you discover that using a camel is less pleasant than you expected and after another twenty, the growing soreness between your thighs and legs allows you to conquer the fear of yours of falling off and also check out the side ways seat (two legs one side), amazing relieving.