What to see and do in the Marrakech desert
What to see and do in the Marrakech desert: Morocco tours would not be complete without a desert adventure. From camel rides to breathtaking waterfalls, the Moroccan desert route is full of surprises.
Considered the ninth best destination in the world by tourists and visitors alike, Marrakech has everything to offer: history, traditions, scenery, delicious food, excellent weather, luxurious living and adventures for every taste and budget. If you’re traveling to Morocco soon, a visit to the Great Sahara Desert will undoubtedly be at the top of your bucket list.
But what exactly can you do when you arrive? Here’s information on the most fun and exciting activities to have a great time.
Camping under the stars
This is one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences that words can hardly do justice to. Only those who have had the opportunity to visit the dunes in the cold of night and under a million stars can understand the avalanche of emotions that can be experienced.
Departing from Marrakech, you will find several alternative desert excursions that aim to take tourists to any of the three main Moroccan deserts: the Merzouga desert, the Zagora desert and the Agafay desert.
When you arrive in the desert, you will spend the night in special campsites in the middle of nowhere, where you will have certain comforts, such as: a comfortable place to sleep, a bathroom area, seating, warm fires and much more.
Dare to sandboard on the sands
Funny name, isn’t it? Sandboarding is a fun pastime that both tourists and locals enjoy on their trips to the desert. Here you don’t need waves to surf, as you take long surfboards to glide over the dunes.
If you visit one of the Sahara’s two main sand deserts, such as on a trip to the Zagora desert from Marrakech, you’ll have the opportunity to try surfing by renting equipment near the campsites.
If you’re traveling to the desert with friends or family, you can have a lot of fun climbing to the top of a mountain of sand to reach the ground standing (or sitting) on the board. To repeat, you’ll have to climb to the top again. If you travel to the desert and Marrakech in winter, the temperature is so pleasant that you can go sandboarding any time you like.
Enjoy Lake Takerkoust and its surroundings
In the middle of the Agafay desert is the artificial reservoir of Lake Takerkoust. If you’re visiting Marrakech in the summer and want to escape the heat for a few hours, this is the perfect place for it, as it’s very close to the city and very easy to get to.
In its calm waters, there are all kinds of activities ideal for enjoying with family or friends. Among the most popular are: jet skiing, windsurfing, rowing activities and even peaceful rides on a pedal boat. If any of these activities catch your eye, you can rent the equipment directly on site at establishments such as:
Enjoy dinner or lunch in the desert:
If you don’t have the opportunity to spend the night in the desert due to time constraints, it’s important to know that another activity you can do in the camps is to have lunch or dinner in a typical Berber tent. This is a very pleasant experience, which will be doubly enjoyable if you visit the desert with your partner or close family.
You’ll have the opportunity to enjoy a traditional meal including tajine, couscous, salads and cakes.
And all this under the magical cloak of night, if you choose to do this activity after sunset.
Enjoy the sunset or sunrise.
What to see and do in the Marrakech desert: The tranquillity and infinite beauty of the desert’s golden dunes is unlike any other natural spectacle on earth and is something you can experience when you book a desert excursion from Marrakech.
The fun thing about this activity is that it can easily be combined with many of the other activities we’ve listed, thus enriching your experience or trip to the magical Moroccan desert from Marrakech.
For example, if you decide to camp in the Moroccan desert overnight, you can take a camel or quad bike ride at sunrise or sunset to enjoy the natural spectacle of the stunning desert landscape.
take the best pictures of the night sky
If you’re willing to spend the night in the desert, for example on a trip to the Zagora desert, you can’t miss the opportunity to take pictures of the night sky. Whether you’re a professional photographer or just an amateur who likes magical destinations,
the Moroccan desert is the perfect setting for creating photos with impressive compositions. As the nearest cities are a considerable distance away, light pollution is practically non-existent, making it easy to capture the beauty of the stars that cover the sky.
Although the best time to visit Marrakech and, from there, the desert, depends on many other factors, the best time to take photos of the desert and the stars is in summer, when the clouds are practically non-existent. When traveling to the desert, take extra care with photographic equipment in the sand, carrying lenses and cameras in special cases that keep dust and particles out.
A camel ride is a must!
I’m one of those who consider a camel ride in the desert an unmissable adventure on a trip to Marrakech.
As one of the most popular activities among travelers, you’ll find hundreds of options available in the Moroccan deserts, as well as at other tourist attractions such as the Palm Grove, just outside Marrakesh.
If you’re going to the desert as part of a guided tour, my recommendation is to check the itinerary of activities to see if this experience is included. If it’s not, contact the organizers to see if there’s a way to do it. As an additional tip, camels are really gentle creatures who have adapted wonderfully to contact and life with humans.
take a sand bath in the desert
What to see and do in the Marrakech desert: The inhabitants of the desert claim that the sand dunes of the Sahara have healing and even miraculous properties. For some time now, they have been teaching this secret to travelers from all over the world who come to Morocco.
The Merzouga desert is the favorite desert in Morocco for this activity because its dunes are the highest, reaching heights of up to 150 meters. When the sun rises over the horizon, you’ll see native Moroccans digging holes in the dunes to bury visitors in what could be considered an unconventional spa treatment.
For the magic of the dunes to work, you must stay buried for at least 30 minutes and water will be provided on request. Without a doubt, a different way to enjoy the Sahara.
Quad bike ride in the desert
This is a fun activity that you can do in any of the Moroccan deserts. During the ride, you’ll be able to breathe fresh, calm air and appreciate the wild and impressive nature of the desert at its best. For many, it’s a very relaxing tour, especially after spending two or three days in Marrakech.
After your arrival in the desert, you can rent the quad bikes on your own or take advantage of one of the many group tours. This type of tour is usually organized in small groups, which allows the guide to maintain a personalized service and take care of all the participants.
It is ideal for covering large areas in a short space of time and appreciating the beauty of the surroundings, which makes it a perfect alternative for those who, for personal or ethical reasons, don’t like camel riding.
Discover Morocco’s Desert Oases
What to see and do in the Marrakech desert: The Sahara Desert in Morocco covers a vast expanse of land. Getting to the desert from Marrakech is not complicated by the many excursions that leave from the city, but depending on the destination you choose for your desert adventure, you can explore the possibility of going on an adventure to see a beautiful natural oasis.
This type of experience usually lasts around two to three hours, so you can easily fit it into your daily desert itinerary. In the Erg Chebbi desert, the M’Hamid Oasis stands out, which for centuries served as a rest stop for camel caravans crossing the desert.
Meet the nomadic Berbers of the Sahara
Berber is the name given to the indigenous ethnic group that dominates the northern region of Africa and which you will naturally meet on your trip to Morocco. In the vicinity of the most important Moroccan deserts, it is easy to find small traditional villages where you can appreciate their way of life, their cuisine and their art.
While the men and boys look after the livestock, the women of the Berber tribes prepare the food and make handicrafts which are then sold in the traditional souks, such as the one in the Medina of Marrakech. On an excursion to the villages, you can learn how the tapestry designs reflect their ancient customs and traditions.
Another peculiarity is that, in the lowlands, the desert Berbers are mostly nomads. Made up of tribes of families, they move around the desert following the seasonal cycles of their ancestors.
What to bring on your visit to the desert?
All you should need to carry is a shoulder bag or backpack.
The clothes you wear in the desert need to be functional. Wear breathable materials, linen and cotton clothes and long sleeves to keep your skin protected from the sun as much as possible.
Sunglasses, caps and hats are also necessary to protect you from the sun.
What to see and do in the Marrakech desert
If you’re spending the night in the desert, take socks, as desert nights can be cold even in summer. And if you’re going in winter, take warm clothes.
Suitable footwear is always sneakers or hiking boots. Forget sandals if you’re walking on sand or riding a camel.
Extra equipment, such as a small first aid kit and a portable charger for your cell phone.