“If you want to go to the Sahara for 2 days 1 night, the price is 650DH. No bargaining” the hostel manager told us. Granted, this wasn’t cheap since it’s almost 65 euros.
Having already dealt with Moroccan tour agencies before in my trip to the Ouzoud Waterfalls (where the price went from 350 to 150DH), I knew that there was definitely a way to obtain a cheap Sahara tour in Morocco.
I’m glad to say I wasn’t wrong.
How to get a cheap Sahara tour in Morocco
Me and my friend, the amazing Evangeline from Canada, went searching for a tour agency in the crowded souks of Marrakech. As soon as we entered one, the managers showed us the price list for their tours. Of course, the 2 days 1 night tour of the Sahara was actually listed as 650DH…and right next to it we could find the discounted price of 550DH.
This time I tried a different strategy than before and actually tried to befriend the tour salesman by talking about everything except the price (he even showed us photos of his brother who works as a skate instructor in London!).
In the end, we told him that we would go back to our hostel and decide later to which he agreed and actually offered us a kind invitation for dinner later that night. Normally, my scam alert would go off at this sort of situations but this guy seemed completely trust-worthy.
The plot-twist? He totally was! Evangeline and I enjoyed a lovely Moroccan dinner with the tour salesman and his friend and we soon booked our Sahara tour for only 400DH (250DH less than what the people at the hostel would normally pay) including dinner and breakfast at the Sahara. Let’s go get some Camel selfies!
The Sahara 2 days 1 night journey
There are basically two Sahara group tours leaving daily from Marrakech: the 2 days 1 night and the 3 days 2 nights. The difference is that the 3d2n goes to a different part of the desert called Merzouga where the color of the sand dunes is orange/red instead of the yellow/orange that you will see in Zagora.
The extra night is spent at the Dades Valley, which includes a gorge located in the Atlas mountain range. Granted, it does sounds better than the 2d1n tour but since both my friend and I were short on time we opted for the shorter version of the tour.
During the 4 hours ride from Marrakech to Aït Benhaddou, Hollywood’s favorite filming spot, we stopped at least four times to take a toilet break and to admire the extreme beauty of the Atlas mountain range. As I said before, it is important to bring your own lunch since the tour will stop at very expensive restaurants (100DH for a Tagine menu? No way Jose!).
The ride is a very smooth one so you can have some time to sleep (after all, we had to meet at 07:00 for the tour to start). However, I would definitely suggest you to keep your eyes open in order to admire the immense beauty of the Atlas region. After leaving Ait Benhaddou we went into another scenic 4 hours ride to the town of Zagora, the closest one to the Sahara desert.
By the way, did you know that during certain months you can actually see snow in Morocco? How cool is that?
Riding camels in the Sahara desert of Morocco
This was my fourth camel ride (having previously rode them at the Egyptian Pyramids, the India Thar desert and at the beaches of Morocco) and yes, each time it gets smoother and smoother. If you’re riding a camel for the first time, remember that the secret is to actually move your body along with the camel in order to avoid feeling sore after the ride.
The camel journey from the town of Zagora to the Berber camp wasn’t really that scenic since we could see electricity cables and cars on the highway right next to us. However, the last few minutes were completely magical as we approached the sand dunes just in time for sunset.
What came after was an amazing all-inclusive home-made dinner at the camp-site as the Berber people played the drums and sang to the tune of the desert. After filling up our stomach with Tagine, we drank the Berber Whisky (actually, mint tea) as a sign of friendship with our new friends as we turned off the remaining lights in order to fully appreciate the starry sky.
I wonder what the ancient people of the desert thought when they gazed at such a breath-taking sight. Do you think that they also named the constellations? Isn’t it interesting how we only know the Greco-Roman names of them? I do wonder how my ancestors named the Northern Star back in the olden days.
The long way back from the Zagora to Marrakech
We woke up at 05:00 in order to enjoy the sunrise over the dunes and, after a delicious breakfast, we were ready to embark on the 8 hour journey back to Marrakech. Actually, scratch that since we were stuck two hours at a restaurant in the middle of the road where our driver mysteriously vanished. Want to know where he was? Sleeping on the terrace of the restaurant. He never once apologized to us but at least he was kind enough to turn on the A/C this time.
10 hours after departing Zagora we were finally back to Marrakech, ready to take a shower to get the sand off our bodies and with a deep admiration for the people of the desert. And yes, to this day I still miss that starry sky. Have you ever been to the Sahara? Would you like to? Do you like Tagine? Share your thoughts and let me know what you think!