Sahara Desert Tour in Morocco: Travel Guide
Sahara Desert Tour: Travel in the Moroccan desert, discover the Sahara
South of the Atlas Mountains, discover the Moroccan desert where the Sahara begins!
Along the wadis you’ll cross hamadas and regs dotted with verdant palm groves that bring the freshness of oases. Further on, the traveller enters a world of golden sand and dunes. The desert stretches as far as the eye can see: you’re in the Sahara, the desert of deserts. Whether you’re an amateur or a beginner, a wide variety of treks and hikes will take you to the most beautiful sites in the Moroccan Sahara desert!
Preparing for your trip to Morocco also means knowing what to see and do in the Sahara: here’s our guide to excursions and places to see in the southern Moroccan desert.
From Marrakech, cross the High Atlas barrier on the beautiful Tizi N’Tichka road to Ouarzazate, gateway to the Deep South. Then head for Zagora and M’Hamid along the Drâa Valley. You enter the heart of the Drâa Hamada, where sand and stone deserts meet: the Sahara opens its doors to you!
Beyond Mhamid, venture with your guide along the caravan routes of the deep south to the singing dunes. As a family, walk along the Oued Draa through the first dunes of the Sahara. Your nomadic apprentices will love it.
If you’re on a 4X4 tour, choose a bivouac in the heart of Erg Chegaga. Then take the track that crosses the Djebel Bani through superb mountain oases to reach the Ait Benhaddou ksar. An experienced driver is required.
Sahara Desert Tour: East of Ouarzazate, discover the Skoura oasis, an immense palm grove created by Yacoub El Mansour in the 12th century, before heading for Tafilalet, the world’s largest palm grove with 1 million date palms, abundantly watered by the oueds Ziz and Gheris. Between the regs of the hamada and the high dunes of Erg Chebbi. Tafilalet takes you to the Merzouga oasis and the high dunes of Erg Chebbi, where the Sahara reveals its immensity. Here, the dunes shift and undulate at the whim of the Chergui, the Saharan wind, offering travelers a magical spectacle.
The further east you go, the wilder and wilder the landscape becomes. Here you are at the very edge of the Moroccan Sahara, in the Zireg, the desert of the Ait Kebbach nomads. Continuing along desert tracks, you cross the mineral Saghro to arrive at the Agdz oasis, the start of the Draa Valley. A wonderful escape into southern Morocco, where you’ll discover all the facets of the Moroccan desert and the Sahara.
Bivouac in the Sahara
“The desert is a land of beauty, useless and irreplaceable. And a bivouac in the Sahara is a unique and unforgettable experience… You’ll live at the rhythm of our Saharan nomads, who will help you discover the secrets of their desert and their traditions.
Hiking with the men of the desert, you’ll appreciate their hospitality and learn how to make sand bread. And with your Berber guide, you can read the sky map. The liveliness and conviviality of desert evenings will give way to the silence of the night and the starry immensity of the Saharan sky…
On the Algerian border, M’Hamid and Merzouga are easy departure points for discovering the diversity of the Saharan landscape. From Ouarzazate, it takes around 5 hours by road to get there.
However, desert tracks require real experience, and it’s best to use our experienced drivers or guides. Don’t hesitate to ask us for a quote
Winner of the Responsible Tourism Trophy 2014, Sahara Morocco Tours offers a wide range of trips to the Moroccan desert. The recipe for our trips in Morocco: authentic itineraries, discoveries of unusual places and encounters with local populations.
Sahara Desert Tour: (On a trip to the Moroccan desert, visit Agdz)
At the foot of Jebel Kissane, the small town of Agdz marks the beginning of the Draa Valley. In the immense Agdz palm grove, numerous fortified villages (ksour) are a reminder of the region’s prosperity in the days of caravan trade with sub-Saharan Africa. These kasbah (ksar) villages are home to fragrant gardens where mint and henna grow in the shade of palm trees. The Agdz area offers a wide variety of excursions.
What to see and do in Agdz
Preparing for your trip to Morocco also means knowing what to see and do in Agdz: here’s our guide to excursions and places to see in Agdz and the Moroccan desert.
Discover the gardens of the Agdz palm grove and take an excursion along the narrow paths that link the douars. Discover the ingenious irrigation systems known as seguias. You’ll meet the locals who grow figs, henna, alfalfa and mint on their plots in the shade of palm trees. And why not have tea with the locals? For this, we recommend hiring a local guide. You’ll learn a lot about the customs of the southern Berbers. A donkey and cart are available for children.
As you pass through Agdz, we suggest you spend the night in an authentic ksar restored by its inhabitants, where various activities will be offered. An opportunity to meet the locals.
Don’t miss a visit to the Tamnougalte ksar, 7kms from Agdz. Built in the 16th century, it is the oldest ksar in the Draa Valley and the capital of the Mezguita Berbers. Its name means ‘meeting place’, as it was an important crossroads in the days when the great caravans traded between Tafilalet and Timbuktu. It was also a strategic point, as gold from Sudan was processed and minted here. Visit the caïd’s kasbah and take a stroll through the palm grove with a local guide.
During our tour between oasis and Saharan dunes, you’ll spend the night in an authentic kasbah in the heart of the Tamnougalte ksar, with a breathtaking view over the palm grove. Authenticity and a change of scenery guaranteed!
Excursions around Agdz
Sahara Desert Tour: Discover the gardens of the palm grove on foot (2 hrs), or the old village of Aslim, mentioned in writings from the 12th century, and the kasbah of Caid Ali (1 hr). On Thursdays, the Agdz souk is a not-to-be-missed event.
The Draa Valley and southern Morocco are ideal for mountain biking.
Driving along the Draa Valley road to Zagora, don’t miss Tamgroute, once an important stopover on the route of the great caravans to Timbuktu. This village is renowned for its library containing over 3,000 rare manuscripts and its pottery workshops, the oldest in Morocco.
By 4×4, numerous tracks, remnants of the ancient caravan routes, will take you to the dunes of Erg Lihoudi near Mhamid, to the great dunes of Erg Chegaga, 2 hours away by track, or to the mineral immensity of Djebel Sagho.
We recommend a stopover at the Ouled Driss ksar near Mhamid. This 17th-century ksar has retained all its authenticity and is less frequented. You can stay in an authentic mud house inside the old village with our friend Hassan. Our driver guides know all the unusual places that make a trip more authentic. We look forward to hearing from you!
Access & practical info
About 75 km south of Ouarzazate and 170 km from Mhamid. Accessible by bus or cab.
Ouarzazate airport is 80kms away. You can rent a car to explore the Draa Valley.
For a more authentic trip, we recommend that you hire one of our driver-guides, who knows the nooks and crannies of this often-frequented region.
Winner of the Responsible Tourism Trophy, Sahara Morocco Tours offers a wide range of trips in the Moroccan desert. The recipe for our trips in Morocco: Authentic itineraries, discoveries of unusual places and encounters with local populations.
Mhamid the ancient Taragalte
Sahara Desert Tour: (on a trip to the Moroccan desert, visit Mhamid)
M’Hamid lies at the southeastern tip of Morocco, at the gateway to the desert, where the tarred road ends. It’s the last of the Drâa Valley oases before the vastness of the Sahara desert. Here, the desert experience is just 10 km away, in Erg Lihoudi, or further afield in Erg Chegaga, some 50 km away. M’Hamid is an ideal starting point for numerous hikes in the Moroccan desert and the Draa Valley.
What to see and do in Mhamid
Preparing for your trip to Morocco also means knowing what to see and do in Mhamid. Here’s our guide to the things to do and places to see in Mahmid.
In the days of the great caravans, M’Hamid was an important caravanning center and was called Taragalt. Mhamid is the starting point for our trek in the footsteps of the caravans of yesteryear in the heart of the Sahara.
Before or after your desert trek, we recommend a visit to the Ouled Driss ksar, close to Mhamid. More intimate and authentic, this 17th-century Saharan ksar has preserved its original architecture.
In November, don’t miss the Festival International des Nomades in M’hamid El Ghizlane, a two-day event showcasing the African and Saharan cultures of southern Morocco.
Excursions and bivouacs in the desert around Mhamid
A raid in the Sahara is an unforgettable experience. A few days hiking in the first dunes of the Sahara, with our camel nomads from the Nouaji tribe, will leave you with unforgettable memories: drinking tea at sunset on the crest of a dune, baking bread in the sand, looking at the map of the sky, listening to the silence… What memories to bring back!
From M’Hamid or the Ouled Driss ksar, set off on an adventure into the dunes of Erg Chegaga! You can reach them by 4X4 in 2 hours on a track. The site is ideal for a bivouac in the heart of the wildest dunes in the Moroccan Sahara. Closer by, from Mhamid or Ouled Driss, you can walk to the dunes of Erg Lihoudi for a night in a comfortable camp. A great introduction to the desert!
Beyond Erg Chegaga, to the east of M’Hamid, you’ll discover the ancient Lake Iriki, on the way to the Foum Zguid palm grove. The track takes you back to Marrakech via the beautiful Ounila valley, protected by the fortresses of Ait Benhaddou and Telouet. A superb desert excursion from Marrakech.
Access & practical info
Sahara Desert Tour: The nearest international airport is in Ouarzazate (170km). However, if you’re staying in Marrakech, you can take a 3 or 4-day 4×4 excursion into the Moroccan desert.
Don’t hesitate to ask us for a quote, and tailor your trips to Morocco to suit your budget.
Winner of the Responsible Tourism Trophy, Sahara Morocco Tours offers a wide range of tours in the Moroccan desert. The recipe for our trips to Morocco: authentic itineraries, discoveries of unusual places and encounters with local populations.
Nkob and its kasbah villages
(ON A TRIP TO THE MOROCCAN DESERT, VISIT NKOB)
Nkob is known as the village of “45 kasbahs”, on the road linking the Drâa Valley to the Ziz Valley.
It takes its name from the nearby N’Akb cave, once a stopover for the Aït Atta nomads.
The Nkob oasis lies on the slopes of Jebel Saghro, between rocky and sandy desert. The region is a paradise for trekking among the diversity of Saharan landscapes.
The Nkob oasis can be reached from the Draa valley or via Rissani. You have to cross the hamada, a desert marked by thorny acacia trees and abundant rock engravings.
What to see and do in Nkob?
Sahara Desert Tour: Preparing for your trip to Morocco also means knowing what to see and do in Nkob. Here’s our guide to what to see and do in Nkob and the surrounding area
Nkob’s imposing, restored and well-maintained kasbahs lend undeniable charm to this peaceful village, set in a lunar landscape. The Nkob oasis, with its plots of cultivated land and numerous date palms, contributes to the quality of the place. Strolling along its shady paths is a moment of pure delight.
All around is the hamada, a rugged but impressively beautiful rocky plain. The Nkob region boasts rock engravings and fossil extraction sites around Sedrar. Here you’ll discover orthoceras, molluscs from around 470 million years ago.
The souk on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays is one of the biggest in the region. Here you can buy traditional leather sandals.
Excursions around Nkob
From the village of Tigimi Nkob, excursions on foot or by 4×4 to Djebel Sarhro are organized. You’ll cross the Saghro mountains to the Todra and Tinghir valleys.
Between the Nkob oasis and the Tazzarine palm grove, you can also set off on foot to discover a different kind of desert, between hamada and oasis, canyons and dunes, and meet Berber shepherds. A superb hike that’s a must!
Access & practical info
The nearest airport is Ouarzazate. You can rent a car to get to the Nkob oasis via the Ait Saoun pass and Agdz (RN9/98kms).
By bus and cab
Sahara Desert Tour: To the west, cabs are waiting at the Tansikht junction to take you to Nkob.
To the east, towards Tafilalet and the Merzouga dunes, the road passes through the villages of Tazzarine and Alnif before joining the road linking Erfoud to Rissani.
Winner of the Responsible Tourism Trophy, Sahara Morocco Tours offers a wide range of trips in southern Morocco. The recipe for our trips in Morocco: authentic itineraries, discoveries of unusual places and encounters with local populations.