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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Moroccan Sahara Desert Tour

We visited Morocco last summer, smack bang in the middle of summer and to say it was hot was an understatement but we didn't let the heat stop us from venturing in the Sahara Desert and for both of us it was a highlight of all travels to date!



We didn't book our tour prior to arriving in Morocco as we both had experience travelling in similar countries and knew we'd be best to source a good company & tour once we arrived and got a feel of the place. We wandered the souks and medina of Marrakesh for a few hours and spoke to a few different tour companies. You'll find most travel companies are pretty similar in what they offer, what you'll see & experience, with the obvious exception of price difference between group and private tours.

We wanted a group tour so we could meet other people. Having found a company we were happy with we bartered for a good price (well Dan did), paid our monies and off we trotted for an afternoon escaping the heat and relaxing by our pool at the beautiful Riad Noga.




We were picked up about 7am the next morning and joined the rest of our group of about 14 others bound for the Sahara. Piling into our minivan with stops every few hours including stops at a few lookout points on our drive through the windy but beautiful Atlas Mountains and amazing Berber villages.






Stopping at the famous Ait Ben Haddou, a giant traditional Kasbar we were taken on a tour through the winding passageways all the way to the top! It was incredible but so so so hot (bring water)!

We found out that scenes from Gladiator were filmed here!













Dan picked himself up a scarf in the markets... a MUST for the Sahara!



Whilst I found myself some friends...



Back in the van the outside temperature hit 49 degrees Celsius and I'm pretty certain the "air-conditioning" even if it was working was doing nothing... It was sweat city in the van and we were all cheering when we pulled up at the edge of the desert to buy more water and become acquainted with our camels before riding two hours into the dunes.






Dan and his camel were pretty good friends by the end!




We rode our camels into the dunes and watched the sun dip lower and lower until it fell below the dunes just as we arrived at our traditional Berber camp site.






We all set off to our own private tents before coming back together for dinner, drums and music!

It was an incredible night.




We headed off to bed so that we could be up in time for sunrise, and it was well worth the early start.



After breakfast we said hello to our camels before jumping back on them for a two hour march back to the van.







Our Sahara Tour was one of the highlights of our trip to Morocco and I highly recommend it for anyone visiting, it really is an incredible experience.

A few tips

  • Pack appropriately - we read a lot of reviews and blog posts etc before we arrived in Morocco and obviously these people went in a completely different season to us because we packed long pants, jumpers & I think I even packed a thermal top but we didn't need them because we actually didn't even stop sweating once (even in the middle of the night)! 
  • If you can, leave your big bags in Marrakech and just bring a day pack/overnight bag.
  • Bring a scarf to cover your head, shoulders & face. Sunglasses & suncreen are also essentials.
  • WATER WATER WATER! Bring more than you think you'll need. We had the option of buying more along our trip, but double check with your tour company you'll be able to do so.
  • It is a LONG drive from Marrakech to the Sahara... we unfortunately didn't have a huge amount of time so only took a 1 night/2 day tour, but if you have the time I'd recommend taking a long tour especially as you'll then have the opportunity to go further into the desert and see the HUGE dunes! Not to say our tour wasn't incredible because it was but if we'd had extra time we would have jumped at taking a longer tour.
  • Bring toilet paper.... our Berber Camp had toilets and they were okay but some of the toilets in places we stopped along the way were pretty horrendous...
  • Charge your camera/bring extra batteries as there is no where to charge your electronics whilst on your tour and I guarantee you'll want your camera ready as there's unlimited incredible photo ops!
  • Ensure you find out EXACTLY what is included in your tour when you book so you are aware of any additional expenses etc... we knew on our specific tour that we had to pay for a tour at Ait Ben Haddou, lunch on both days and water but a lot of people on our tour were under the impression this was all included & weren't very happy. (Dinner was included though and it was incredible... we LOVE Moroccan food)! 
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