I will never forget the deep dusty rose color of the Sahara in the 1/2 hr after sunset, or the morning ride in the dark, lit only by the amazing brilliance of the stars! That alone made the 13 hr return trip to Marrakech worth it. I also loved the hour long walk through the Berber garden plots in the gorge. For me, this trip was excellent and I strongly recommend it!
That said, some caveats and suggestions:
Don't expect the driver to be a tour guide. You might get lucky, but... Our driver, Yusef, was friendly, competent and helpful when asked for something. He didn't offer any commentary about where we were or even a summary of what to expect when we arrived at a site and were handed over to a local guide. All of whom were excellent, but it seemed at times that communication was lacking between guides, driver and lodging staff.
If you can afford it, reserve a private room and a private tent. I am a 67 yr old solo female traveler, about 40 yrs older than most of the group. I had arranged private sleeping space and was so glad! The first night, people were randomly assigned rooms together. The desert camp has some tents with 5-6 beds- no space at all between them. People were just counted and waved to a tent.
I'd already booked a flight to Marrakech when I decided to do this tour. I wish I'd either done the 4 day Fes to Marrakech tour hard to find going the other way or had been dropped off near Mergouza to catch a grand taxi to Fes. You still pay the full tour price, but save hrs of travel time back to Marrakech.
Tour was definitely not what was expected. The bus held 15 with AC not working correctly in 100+ degree heat, broken seats, etc. Camel ride and sleeping outside by the stars was the highlight of the entire 3 day trip. Got scammed by a local passing off as guide 13 hr drive back on the 3rdday was bad!!
Due to our experience on this trip, we will NEVER be using Viator again. The picture of the tents shown is misleading. Please anyone who is considering this tour, we have done many off the beaten path tours and this was just plain right bad on so many levels. You will be in a cramped bus with zero A/C,the driver would not put on the A/C even though there was one in the vehicle, the driver is NOT a guide in anyway whatsoever and has the personality of a rock. It is a THREE day trip in a bus. When you arrive in the desert you will be dropped off at the camels and have to ride for an hour to the camp. Both my husband and myself have bruises on our inner thighs from the wooden piece attached to the camel. The men who pull the camels over the dunes do not speak English and were quite rude in fact they didn't care at all for our safety. One women fell of the camel landing on the camels head. The tent was disgusting,one of the couples tent had cats in it that had peed in the tent and the smell was like sleeping in a litter bin, in fact that's what they said. Due to the shabby tent and blankets, I was wary to eat the food, so I had a piece of bread, one small potatoe and carrot for dinner. When asked where the toilet was, thinking they had a set up with a port-a-potty I was told to go anywhere I wished in the desert. The icing on the cake was when we asked to go back in the van the next a.m. instead of enduring another hour camel ride back to the starting point they told us we would have to pay 50.00 each for the ride instead, even though they were going there anyway.
We had used Viator last Feb in Australia - we have come to find out that they just farm out to local companies - last year our dive in Australia was good, the Daintree was terrible, if you have a terrible guide it will make or break the excursion the guide last year rushed us through the Daintree Forest like it was on fire - we decided to give Viator another chance and silly us booked three tours in Morrocco this year. This one was negative 10 on the scale the 4x4 trip was Excellent and the Essaouira was negative 10 as well. Needless to say we will NEVER EVER USE OR RECOMMEND VIATOR AGAIN !!!! We are going to Dubrovnik Croatia this summer and will use another tour company for sure.
I hope if you are reading this review you will take this sound advice to heart and not spoil your holiday. We are not Negative people, we like to always be of the mindset of glass half full - we just want to make sure no one else has an experience like ours.
Signed - Two well travelled Canadians.
Our three day tour through Morocco with Zakaria was a great treat and adventure. We enjoyed the scenic route and had expert wisdom form our guide to help us understand the Moroccan way, willing to stop everywhere for pictures and shopping. If you see a local market buzzing like a bee hive ask Zakaria to take you, you will not regret.
I highly recommend taking this trip if you want to see more than just the souks of marrakech. We stayed a total of seven days in Morocco and had a few days in Marrakech before and after our dessert trip. That also turned out to be a very clever move, as you will feel overwhelmed and a bit exhausted from all the travelling.
Especially for us untrained camel riders and desert campers, the last day in Marrakech at our Riad's Hammam with a massage was a perfect way to recenter and have the feeling of an overall relaxing vacation.
Take the trip, soak up the sights and be prepared for the tourist food turnaround stops I recommend going with the vegetarian dishes at these stops just to be sure and worry free. This isn't a foodie trip, keep that in mind.
All in all we were very pleased with our experience and the comfort of our trip. If you get a chance to ride with Zakaria then you're in for a treat!