Did you know that the Sahara Desert is almost as big as the entire United States? This vast landscape is filled with natural treasures, and it has sparked my interest for some time.
During my latest Moroccan adventure, I wanted to check the magnificent desert off my bucket list, so my friend Jessica and I decided to travel from Marrakech and spend a few nights glamping at a luxury Sahara desert camp– it was an unforgettable experience. BUT, it is a long journey to get there.
We decided to book with a private camp, Desert Luxury Camp, for a three night luxury glamping adventure. The experience included two nights in their luxury tents and one night at the Skoura Oasis.
If you’re headed to northern Africa, I highly recommend getting out of the cities for at least one night to see the incredible, natural landscapes.
Here’s my guide to exploring and glamping in Morocco’s Sahara Desert!
Getting to the Sahara Desert
I learned that there were many “desert” day tours and getaways offered out of the major cities like Marrakech, but many don’t actually go all the way to the Sahara due to the travel time.
But I was committed to getting there!
We started our journey around 7:30AM from Marrakech, with the private driver we chose to hire. Our driver met us with a 4WD car and we began our journey driving through the Atlas Mountains. Six hours of mountains, valleys, winding roads and breathtaking views.
We stopped around 1pm, to stretch our legs and grab a bite to eat. Our driver brought us to a yummy little spot, and then we continued on for about 3 more hours until arriving at the desert! After passing through the “gates of the Sahara”, it was still about an hour drive out of town and a 4WD journey though sand.
Eventually, we made it to the camp around sunset. It wasn’t the most comfortable travel day, but we were so amazed when we finally arrived. I can’t even describe it!
Helpful Tips: Make sure to bring toilet paper, medication if you get carsick, plenty of snacks and water.
What to Expect at a Sahara Desert Camp
There are many Sahara Desert tours offered, with options ranging from camping, day trips, or extra night add-ons coupled with city tours. There are honestly a ton of options to choose from, and so we just chose to go off a few recommendations and booked with Desert Luxury Camp.
The camp situated in the Sahara Desert was a dream– it was definitely the ultimate nomad experience but “glamped ” up. Our team was ultra friendly and helpful, which is key to having a good experience anywhere. The food was incredible (I’m waiting on the Berber restaurant trend!), and I never felt like I was roughing it.
The beds were comfortable, and the tents have full bathrooms (warm showers), outlets, and blankets, so you won’t feel like you’re camping in the Sahara– but “glamping” instead!
Throughout our four day Sahara Desert adventure, we hiked dunes to watch sunrise, rode camels and sand-boarded. We visited Ksar of Ait Benhouddou, Skoura Oasis, and traveled to Todra Gorge to check out the water and grab a bite to eat.
The evenings spent watching sunset from camp are moments I will never forget.
4 Day Itinerary for the Sahara Desert
The first day was a travel day for us. As described above, we left Marrakech at 7:30am and travel by private car for about 11 hours until reaching the Luxury Desert Camp. Just in time for a beautiful sunset and delicious dinner!
We woke up before sunrise to join our guide on a hike. We climbed the highest dune in the area and watched the sun break over the expansive desert. It was a magical moment!
We spent about an hour taking in the view, shooting photos and chatting with our guide before heading back to camp. After a picturesque breakfast, we had opted for a camel ride before the sun got too high in the sky.
After about an hour-long ride, Jessica and I spent the rest of the day hanging out at the camp. It was really nice to be disconnected from cell phone service, and just sit around and relax. Before the sun set, we tried our hand at sand-boarding. Let’s just assume I wasn’t the most graceful 😉
Evening at the camp was memorable– live Berber music, a great dinner spread, and the most stars I’ve ever seen! We fell asleep in the luxury tents for our second night.
Day three was our last day at the camp, so after our early breakfast, we departed around 8am with our private driver. Instead of heading back to Marrakech, we drove towards the Skoura Oasis.
We grabbed some lunch and then headed on to the Todra Gorge to see running water. Afterwards, we made were dropped of at our hotel in the Skoura Oasis, filled with hundreds of palm trees.
Skoura is a beautiful oasis located in Dades Valley, a.k.a the Valley of One Thousand Kasbahs.
There are many hotels to choose from in Skoura, and you can find something that fits in with your budget. We opted for a beautiful stayed at L’Ma Lodge and would say we both absolutely loved it.
Sadly, this was our final morning in the desert! Our next stop was Essaouira, so our driver met us at L’Ma Lodge at 8am and we started our journey. On the way, we stopped at the incredible Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou for a quick tour with a local guide that was informative.
Along with a few stops for food and the restrooms, we arrived in Essaouira around 5:30pm.
Helpful Tips for Traveling to the Sahara Desert
- Bring toilet paper, medication, snacks, and water. While it’s a luxe experience, you’ll still be in the middle of the desert, so you can’t just run down to the corner store for something. And throughout Morocco, toilet paper isn’t the norm. Most bathrooms have bidet-style options that use water instead of paper.
- Wear appropriate clothes. You’ll be hiking and riding camels, so be prepared!
- Be prepared for cold nights. Temperatures in Skoura can vary by one hundred degrees throughout the year, so it’s good to check the weather before you go. In the summer, temperatures in a single day can range from seventy to 110 degrees. In the winter, temps can be between forty and seventy degrees. Whatever the weather is like when you go, you’ll feel a major drop at night.
- Pack well: sunscreen and a hat are essential in the desert. You’ll also want comfortable closed-toe shoes for exploring the areas as well as flip-flops for when you’re running around the campgrounds. Also, wipes are great for long days of travel.
- Bring cash. It’s handy to have cash for tips. Generally speaking, you’ll want to keep at least a Moroccan dirham in your pocket any time you’re out. Cash is king here.
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