The rugged Atlas Mountains and the golden sands of the Sahara Desert lie several hours south of Marrakech. This overnight tour lets you explore further than a day trip—stop along the way to visit Ait Ben Haddou, Ouarzazate, and the Atlas Film Studios, enjoy sunrise and sunset camel treks through the desert, and spend the night at a traditional Berber camp, with dinner included.
Spectacular sunrise and sunset views of the Sahara desert
Traditional dinner and accommodation at a Berber desert camp
Hassle-free hotel pickup and round-trip transport from Marrakech
Private tour: customize your itinerary to your preferences
Desert Experience is Nice - But with Poor A/C 7 Hour Rides Are Tough
, Jun 2019
My wife and I were really looking forward to this trip. And it started out great, that is, until we discovered that the A/C in the relatively new Mercedes Benz minivan wasn't working properly. A poor A/C makes a seven (7) hour drive through the desert pretty uncomfortable with temperatures surpassing 100F/37C. This happened in both directions - to and from the desert campsite through the Atlas mountains. At the campsite accommodations (including showers and toilets) and dinner were good. The 40 minutes or so camel ride each way is a cool experience and relatively easy since the camel handlers lead the camels by themselves walking and by leading the camel train (of 2 - 4 camels) by a leach.
If you have not been on desert safari before this trip is an excellent starter. It is not only the desert experience but the entire trip with excursions to the Atlas Mountain, Villages, and the Atlas Studio is of value.
It was an amazing experience, the guide Mustapha was very nice with me, and the experience was pretty cool, you have to be in the car for a long time but it’s worth It when you get to the dessert, I have a great time!
Good experience, but definitely not as advertised.
, Jun 2019
Overall, our experience was good and we were happy we went on the tour - mostly b/c we loved the people in our group, the experience itself is pretty unique, and all of the guides were kind and gracious.The tour was definitely not as advertised, however.
First of all, this was definitely not a private tour. We were rushed on the morning of to get into (one of several) large vans - not a modern 4x4 - with ~18 other people. Would've been fine except we were in the very back corner and my poor 6'3'' husband was crushed for a very long drive.
We also didn't have a guide the whole time. There were 1-2 tour guides at each tour location - mostly to shepherd our group among several other masses of tourists; and there was a driver - all of whom spoke a bit of English. Again, we were grateful our group was really fun, but we had really hoped to have someone to talk to about the culture and history the whole time - which really wasn't possible in the setting we were in. The food was good and the campsite experience was pretty awesome (one of the leaders there walked up to the dunes with us to help us with some night photography).
The camel ride felt a bit more private with just one other couple (FYI - definitely wear pants when riding the camel! And only pack what you need in a backpack for the night. Bring lots and lots of water.).
Also, the photo on this tour is definitely not in Zagora. The Zagora desert only has 1-2 dunes and is mostly rocks and desert. You have to do the Erg Chebbi tour (usually 3 days unless you book a custom private tour) to get the 'full Sahara' feel.
There was also some poor communication the night before. I exchanged some emails the day before confirming a 7:45am pickup time at our Riad. And then got a Whatsapp message at 1am the morning of (after we were asleep) saying they needed to pick us up at 7:05am. We were just waking up when they knocked on our door, and it would've been fine except that they acted really frustrated with us for not being ready...hence the back corner seat on the bus :)
From what I could tell, most of these tours were the same except for the campsite location (we split off from the rest of our group for this part - as all of us seemed to book with different companies). Our campsite location was superior to others, from what we could tell, but the drive / tour stops, etc. were exactly the same. I would recommend if you are 1) short on time & 2) short on money; otherwise go with a truly custom private tour.
An amazing experience but when the description says private it doesn’t mean just your booking but we had another couple join us also - luckily they were lovely.
Long drive but the views during the drive are beautiful through the mountains.
Aït Benhaddou was amazing and definitely a place to visit - lots of steps but there is no rush to get to the top if you want to venture that far.
I would give the film studios a miss, some cool sets but no description or indication of what movies they are from so you are left a little clueless.
The Sahara desert experience was amazing, we weren’t as far into the desert as we thought or the pictures made out but our Berber camp was tucked off from the road behind sand dunes and still beautiful to experience sunrise over the desert. Facilities there at the camp were amazing.
Our tour guide became ill overnight so the company arranged another guy to drive to back to Marrakesh - both lovely guides and allowed a level or flexibility to when and where we stopped.
I would recommend this trip.
We were collected by our driver, Brahim Tenmen an efficient 10 mins early and driven through some stunning scenery through the Atlas Mountains before stopping off at the Ait Ben Haddon kazbah where Gladiator was filmed. A fascinating place and full of atmosphere. At this point Brahim handed us over to a local guide who was excellent. We drove a short way to a pleasant lunch stop and then continued the journey to the place where we picked up the camels. Brahim left us in the capable hands of the camel driver and we arrived at the camp at dusk, where the camel driver entertained is with mint tea, biscuits, nuts and his delightful company.
The evening meal was pleasant, but not 'sumptuous' as described.
All the guests joined together outside to be entertained with Berber music. Unfortunately it was cold and very dark so we couldn't see the drummers and went to bed after a short while.
The rooms in the tents were delightful and though the beds were hard, they were comfortable enough.
Sunrise at the top of the dunes was lovely.
We tracked back by camel and rejoined Brahim who drove us safely on to the film studios (80Dm pp) - a good stop, and then back to Marrakech.
This was an amazing experience we would not have missed for the world. We would have liked longer to allow for more stop offs and photo opportunities.
Thankyou Brahim, the guide at the kazbah and our camel driver for such a great experience .
If you are looking to "check the box" and see the desert of Morocco, this is a good way to go. In summary: It is a long two days of driving from Marrakesh. We were in the car at least 6 hours each way. But, it was worth it. You get to see a lot of the countryside and how people live in Morocco. Despite the long drive, there are many stops along the way and some cool things to see. When you finally arrive, you get out of the car and jump on the camels for a 45 minute "ride" to the campsite. Once there, you are greeted by a very friendly camp staff and served some sweet mint tea. Dinner is served that evening and the next morning you have breakfast and then (optional) hike to see the sunrise.
Some specific comments:
1. It is a long drive - be prepared
2. The desert camp is nice enough - but don't expect a 5-star resort, it isn't. Bed are clean and there is running water, toilets and even showers!
3. Only pack/bring what you really need. You'll be hauling it on the camel with you as you trek to the camp.
4. No alcohol is served...but you can bring your own (as we did). It was nice to be able to drink some wine after dinner while enjoying the stars.
5. Dinner and breakfast were a little sparse/light. Probably good to bring some supplemental snacks.
Our guides name was Mustaffa and he was great. Very friendly, knowledgeable and his english was great.
extra people on a private tour in the Atlas Mountains from Marrackech
, Jan 2019
The views are wunderfull but the tour was not.We booked a privat tour but we got 2 extra people. Although we said something about it, we didn't got these people out of the car. We were with 6 people from one family.The guide hardly added anything to the tour. He hardly spoke. It was not a professional.We drove very slow so we had no time to visit Ouarzazate. We came late in the dessert so we had the last camels. Our reclamation afterwards is not handled very wel. I had to call for a second time.