After nearly six years of travel, I still remember my luxury desert safari in Merzouga, Morocco as one of my favorite activities. Located 10 hours away from Marrakech near the Algerian border, Merzouga is about as remote as you can get, and the crystal clear night sky is proof.
Just like the desert safaris in Dubai, there are many companies offering a luxury desert safari experience from Marrakech. Nearly every hotel, hostel and riad will have a tour available. Some are certainly better than others and I have no way of saying which one is best. The company I worked with was called Merzouga Luxury Desert Camps, and they were certainly luxurious!
The tour started off with a 14-hour drive to Merzouga. Well, 10 hours with 4 hours of stops for breakfast, lunch, snacks and coffee. We arrived at the desert camp just after sunset. We dropped off our backpacks in our respective tents and make our way to the dining tent for a truly delicious, Moroccan dinner spread.
The next morning, several of us got up early to watch the sunrise over the sand dunes before racing back to breakfast. Temperatures during the night dropped to around 60°F but quickly rose to 90°F as the sun came out. We enjoyed our breakfast in the tent but wanted to spend as much time outside as possible enjoying the sun, especially those of us coming in from the UK where autumn is uniformly cold and wet.
After breakfast and a bit of time to relax, we were met with several modified 4x4s which took us on a whirlwind tour of the desert. Our driver raced across the sands, up and down the dunes and weaved around the other 4x4s. We stopped at what seemed to be the ancient ruins of a Berber settlement, but was only perhaps 20 years old; Moroccan desert weather is not kind to permanent structures. Next, we stopped for tea with a nomadic Berber family before heading back to the camp for lunch.
That evening, we had a magical camel ride up to the top of the highest nearby sand dune to watch the sunset and have some actual magic carpet rides down the side of the dune. This was followed by dinner and a show by the camp staff, singing the traditional Mama Africa song. After dinner, many of us stayed up well past midnight to see the stars. Unfortunately, we were thwarted by the perpetual cloud cover. At least I got to see the Instagram photos from the tour just before ours and their beautiful view of the Milky Way.
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On our final day of the luxury desert safari, we were up early for breakfast, and then back in the tour van for the return trip to Marrakech. On the way, we stopped at Aït Benhaddou, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where they’ve filmed dozens of films and TV shows, including the Yunkai city in Game of Thrones. Believe me, the desert safari was more than worth the 28 hours in the van.
Now that Morocco has reopened its borders to 66 countries, including the USA, visiting is a very real possibility. Just make sure to bring your mask, and you’ll need to have a negative virus test within 48 hours of arriving.