The Deserts of Morocco are some of the most beautiful deserts in the world. If you are hoping to spend some time in the Moroccan desert or take one of the amazing Morocco desert tours available, read on to learn about three great regions to explore!
Explore the Deserts of Morocco – Agafay, Merzouga, and Zagora
When planning your dream vacation to Morocco, it can be challenging to plan your itinerary. After all, there is just so much to see and do! Morocco is a North Africa country just a bit larger than the state of California. And geographically-speaking, it is amazingly diverse. From beaches and forests to mountains and deserts, there are vast differences in scenery as you travel from place to place. And for folks that love a good desert, the ones in Morocco are downright magical.
If you are spending some time in Marrakesh during your travels, why not take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city and make your way to the desert? Three beautiful and enchanting desert destinations – Agafay, Merzouga, and Zagora – are easily within your reach. And each one offers you a unique and pleasurable experience that you will remember for the rest of your life.
If you want to visit the Moroccan desert but have limited vacation time, the Agafay Desert is the ultimate win-win. This beautiful desert is only an hour outside of Marrakesh – about 40 km. Small and enchanting, this lovely location has much to offer.
A popular weekend getaway location for locals and tourists alike, even a simple day trip to the Agafay desert will dazzle you with its scenic beauty and geographical diversity. The stony landscape of light-colored rocks is stark, yet stunning, especially when seen against the background of the Atlas mountains. And if you want to stay a little while, there are several luxurious overnight accommodations to choose from.
For adventurous travelers, available Agafay Desert activities include riding horses and canoeing on the beautiful Lalla Takerkoust, a man-made reservoir. Agafay Desert tours are readily available, as well. Tours are a great option for people who want to spend less time planning and more time enjoying their travels!
For travelers who have the time, a journey to Merzouga offers the ultimate Moroccan Desert experience. Located near the Algerian border in Southeastern Morocco, approximately 340 miles from Marrakesh, Merzouga is a 10-hour trip by bus or car. The journey across the Sahara can feel a bit like traveling to the far ends of the Earth. And that is only one of the things that make this desert so magical.
Not so long ago, Merzouga was an isolated place with a small collection of Berber tents. But thanks to tourism, this desert locale has grown into a small village filled with lovely hotels and luxurious riads. But for those who ache to camp out under the star-filled desert sky, there are many tours available, too.
One of the most magical things about this area of the Sahara desert is the enchanting Erg Chebbi sand dune. Extending around 28 km long and rising as high as 160 meters, this incredible sand dune shifts and changes with the desert winds. The dazzling dune rises dramatically above the desert. And as the sun moves through the sky, Erg Chebbi glows with stunning colors – shifting from orange to purple to red and gold.
Imagine drinking in the view of this incredible sand dune while riding on a camel at sunset and you begin to understand the magic of this enchanting desert. In addition to camel tours, popular activities include hiking around the dunes and “sandboarding” – a sport similar to snowboarding.
The Merzouga desert is a popular place to visit throughout the year. But temperatures tend to be most pleasant between November and March. The winter months are also the best time to see the beautiful Dayet Srij, a small lake that is dry through much of the year. However, winter rains fill this natural lake bed, attracting many flocks of migrating birds, including storks and pink flamingos.
Flamingos at play in a lake at the foot of a colorful Saharan sand dune? Seems like the very definition of magic to me!
Around six and a half hours southeast of Marrakesh, Zagora awaits your desert explorations. The Zagora oasis is actually one of the gateways to the desert, on the path to M’Hamid and the desert beyond. But it is a wonderful place to spend a little time as you explore the local area.
On your way to Zagora, be sure to take a little time to visit the Atlas Film Studio in Ouarzazate – also known as the “Hollywood of Morocco”. There, you can check out some of the locations where movies like Lawrence of Arabia, The Mummy, and Star Wars were filmed.
In Zagora, you can camp out under the stars in an oasis filled with date palms. This popular tourist destination is filled with boutique hotels and romantic guesthouses. If you happen to be in the area on a Wednesday or Sunday, pay a visit to the regional souq. Zagora is also home to a variety of festivals throughout the year, so be sure to check out the local events when making your travel plans.
Continue your journey to M’Hamid, the true gateway to the desert. Head out into the desert on the back of a camel to one of the nearby sand dunes and spend the night drinking in the view of the Milky Way. And if you happen to catch a falling star, be sure to make a wish!
No Moroccan vacation is complete without a trip to the desert. Whether you explore the deserts with the help of a guide, go on your own, or sign up for one of our amazing Moroccan Desert Tours, it is sure to be an enriching experience. When you spend time in the deserts of Morocco, you won’t simply see some amazing sights. You might just get more in touch with yourself!