Disclaimer: My 3 Day Sahara Desert tour in Morocco was sponsored by Get Your Guide. All opinions are my own.
I gazed out at the sea of golden sand dunes spread in front of me, stretching further than I could see. The ‘Arabian Nights’ song from Aladdin circled through my head as I watched the sun sunk lower, turning the sand into a burnt orange colour as it came closer to disappearing behind a sand dune. Sunset in the Sahara was a pretty magical experience and after spending more than 2 weeks in Morocco, I can easily say that our Sahara Desert tour in Morocco with Get You Guide was easily the highlight of my Moroccan experience.
Why Get Your Guide for a Sahara Desert Tour?
If you are familiar with this blog, you’ll no doubt recognize Get Your Guide from my others posts. This global travel company offers tours around the world, and I’m a big fan. I did my first tour with them in the Douro Valley of Portugal in 2017 and have since been hooked and recommend them to everyone I know. The guides are great and trusted, it’s safe, and its good value.
There is no shortage of tour companies offering Sahara Desert tours in Morocco. You can book online in advance, with a travel agent, or even wait until you arrive to find a deal. But, here’s the thing. They are not all of equal value.
As I read through articles and discussion boards for a good Sahara Desert tour I found more bad than good. People paying ridiculous amounts of money for the most basic necessities. People who had horrible guides who made them feel unsafe or didn’t speak English, and all around just bad experiences.
Camping in the Sahara was something I wanted to do for ages and I wanted a good experience. No, I couldn’t afford the luxury $1000+/night camps but I didn’t think I’d have to settle for something cheap and uncomfortable either. Which is why I turned to Get Your Guide. After so many great experiences with them in other countries, I trusted their tours and their team to provide me with a fun and safe Sahara Desert tour at a reasonable price. And they did.
Tips for Choosing a Sahara Desert Tour
On top of there being a seemingly innumerable number of tour companies offering Sahara Desert Tours, there are different types of tours as well. One of the first things you need to consider is the level of quality. Generally speaking, the cheaper it is the more basic it is. That being said, I heard several stories of people paying hundreds of euros for a very basic tour when they left booking til the last minute in Morocco and got scammed by the tour companies.
Another very important factor to consider is how long do you want your tour to be? Many companies offer 2 day tours but what most visitors don’t realize is that these don’t actually go to the Sahara Desert, they go to Zagora- which is still a desert but if you come to Morocco for a proper Sahara Desert experience, you’ll need at least three days because it is so far. To make sure you are actually going to the Sahara Desert, you’ll want to make sure the itinerary includes Merzouga which is the gateway to the Sahara.
A third factor worth considering is start and end destinations. Most tours start and end in Marrakech, which is fine but, if you are like me, you don’t want to waste your time backtracking. This was another reason why I chose Get Your Guide- they offer tours that start in Fes and end in Marrakech (what we did) or start in Marrakech and end in Fes so that you can maximize your time exploring rather than adding more travel.
Our 3 Day Sahara Desert Tour with Get Your Guide: Fez to Marrakech
Day 1: Fes to the Sahara Camp
Our tour started at 8am on our first day. Our guide and driver, Abdul, picked us up from our Riad in Fez where we joined three other travellers; an Irish/Chinese couple currently living in the USA and a solo man from Belgium. The five of us sat comfortably in a large mini-van as we drove out of the city and headed towards the Atlas Mountains.
One of the things everyone tells you for a Sahara Desert tour is how much driving it is. But, it’s one thing to read that and entirely another thing to sit in a car for 8-9 hours every day and really experience it. Let me re-iterate: a Sahara Desert tour is A LOT of driving. But, it’s 100% worth it.
Our guide, Abdul, was also fantastic in recognizing this. He’d make stops along the way for sites or just viewpoints to take a photo. He’d check in on us to see if we were hungry and wanted lunch, or if we needed a bathroom break. It also helped that the scenery was pretty stunning too. We went in May and the fields were blooming with wildflowers; red poppies, pink roses, and all kinds of other flowers. It was gorgeous.
The first day was a bit of a race to get to the Sahara Desert in time for a sunset camel ride, but we still made a couple of scenic stops to see the monkeys, the mountains, and lush oases as we made our way to the desert.
When we arrived we were welcomed with mint tea then led to our camels. Camel riding is not something I have ever done and I was worried. Ethical animal tourism is important to me and I refused to ride them in both Egypt and Jordan after seeing how they were treated. However, I was incredibly impressed at how the camels on our Sahara Desert tour looked and were treated in front of us.
There were no lash marks or scars, they were clean (except for bits of hay, because they were sitting in it before we left), and before we geared up, they were free to roam and not tied up when not being used. One didn’t really want to get up, but the guide was gentle and coaxed him up slowly, letting the camel take its time.
The camels also only seemed to be used twice a day for riding. Once at sunset for about 30-40 minutes then a 10-minute ride in the morning. Granted, this is only what I saw during my short time, however, after seeing how camels were treated in other countries, I was honestly happy and impressed with what I saw. These camels seemed to be well cared for pets more than just a means of making money.
Riding a camel was…interesting. Not as bad as I thought but my butt definitely hurt after. However, it was pretty cool to ride them out to a sand dune, watch the sunset, and come back to our camp at dusk.
Speaking of desert camp, it was WAY more than I anticipated. I thought we’d have a basic tent with a communal toilet but instead each tent was done up in bright colours with its own toilet and shower. Like all beds in Morocco, it was very firm, but I was impressed at how nice it was. After a group dinner (one of the best tagines I had in Morocco) and some music and star gazing we went to bed.
Day 2: Sahara Camp to Ouarzazate
Day two was an early 5am start to watch the sunrise over the sand dunes. After a quick breakfast we packed up, rode the camels a short distance to the jeep and began the long drive of day 2.
Day two was another 9 hours or so of driving, but this time we had more stops and breaks along the way for scenic points and views. The main highlight of the day was Todres Gorge which, while cool, wasn’t the highlight for me on the trip. However, the drive was very scenic.
We also stopped for a short bit in a very traditional Moroccan town where a local man gave us a tour of the winding streets and markets. It was completely different than anywhere else we visited on the trip, and not somewhere I ever would have known about or gone to on my own. While it was a bit too traditional for me (arranged marriages and local woman having to dress certain ways to display whether they were available or not), it was fascinating to see and learn about.
We ended day two in Ouarzazate; a nice hotel with big rooms and a pool for all of us to enjoy. It was a lazy evening that we all enjoyed after spending another long day in the van.
Day 3: Ourzazate to Marrakech
The final day of our Sahara Desert tour took us from Ouarzazate to Marrakech. We left around 8:30am after breakfast and began the 8-hour drive. In my opinion, this was the most beautiful drive of our trip. We travelled along the road of 1000 Kasbah’s which winds its way through the mountains. Along the way we stopped at the famous Ben Ait Haddou (filming location for Game of Thrones and Gladiator) as well as for several photo stops.
The mountain pass was beautiful with small villages and Kasbahs dotting the valleys in-between. Several looked abandoned until you saw a satellite dish peeking out from the rooftop. We stopped for a herd of over a hundred goats and laughed when we saw a local herder carrying tiny baby goats in the saddlebags on his donkey. While my butt was a little sore still from the camel and all the sitting in the car, I absolutely loved the drive back to Marrakech.
So, Do I Recommend the 3 Day Sahara Tour from Fez to Marrakech with Get Your Guide?
Absolutely. As you can tell from above, it is a lot of driving and car time but it is so worth it. Honestly, I don’t think you can come to Morocco without a visit to the Sahara Desert and this is the perfect way to have the experience. Everything was above my expectations, I felt safe the entire time (a nice change since Morocco was the most difficult place I have been to) and our guide, Abdul, was fantastic and spoke excellent English.
It was a great experience and a definite highlight of my time in Morocco. So, if you are headed to Morocco as well and looking for a safe, fun, and good quality Sahara Desert tour then definitely take a look at this one.
A Note on Travel Insurance in Morocco
Please, do NOT travel without travel insurance! I’ve had to rely on mine twice before (once for damaged luggage, once because I developed a lung infection while traveling). While the cost may seem annoying and better spent elsewhere, trust me when I say you’ll be sorry if you don’t have it. For just a couple bucks a day, you can save yourself a whole lot of stress and money. I like to recommend SafetyWing for travel medical insurance. With prices starting at $37 for 4 weeks, they are one of the most affordable options I’ve found. Learn more about the importance of travel insurance here.