Three day Sahara Desert Tour

Riding a camel through the Sahara Desert at sunset still goes down as the most memorable travel experience I've had thus far. It wasn't just the camel riding and sand dunes that were amazing though, the whole three days leading up to it, the actual journey that we took to the Sahara, was equally as incredible.

Going to the Sahara Desert was always on our to-do list when planning Morocco so the first thing we did when we arrived in Marrakech was book a Sahara tour. There were many options available, with tours ranging from two days to more than seven days but we opted for a three day tour. We booked it through our hostel and it ended up costing 70 each which is an absolute BARGAIN considering the fact that it included three days of transportation, two nights accommodation, two meals a day (excluding lunch) and tour guides. The tour was so much more than sand and camels, it included a drive through the Atlas Mountains, the cinematic village of Ouarzazate, the impressive Dade Gorges and endless stunning views. If a Sahara tour is something you plan to do, I highly recommend booking when you arrive in Morocco as prices online are quadruple what you'd find on arrival.


The first day of our Sahara tour got off to a rocky start, especially for me. We'd made sure the night before to set our alarms early so we could make the 6am departure time and had even planned out who was showering at what times so we would be ready on the dot. Turns out, daylight savings was ending that night and neither us, our phone alarms or Google knew this so we ended up waking up an hour late. We all had to rush to get ready and as the last person who was meant to shower, I had to forgo mine, and I was not happy... It didn't help that the others kept roasting me all day saying that I smelled terrible...

Our ride for the next three days was a mini van and when we started driving, I passed out immediately cause I was still so tired. When I woke up, I was surrounded by the most beautiful views. We were driving through the Atlas Mountains and stopping off there was amazing. After suffering through over 40 degree scorching heat for days in Marrakech, the cool mountain air was a vast relief. Our stop was short and sweet, and after 20 minutes we all piled back into the minivan and I promptly fell back asleep. I missed the rest of the Atlas Mountain views but I was just so exhausted!

Atlas Mountains

When I woke up, I opened my eyes to a completely different scene compared to the one I fell asleep to. We weren't in the lush green Atlas Mountains anymore, we were all of a sudden surrounded by a more earthy, dry and barren landscape. We were driving towards Ouarzazate and the famous Ait Benhaddou. I was super excited, it finally looked and felt like we were heading closer to the desert!

As we got closer to the ancient city of Ait Benhaddou, I felt like I was in some sort of movie set, it just didn't look real! Turns out it kinda is one. Ait Benhaddou is famous for being the set for many different movies and TV shows including Indiana Jones, Gladiator, and the all time favourite Game of Thrones! Even without all of that, the UNESCO World Heritage site was amazing on its own. I felt like an explorer or adventurer climbing up to the top. We were shown around by a guide and he gave us the history of Ait Benhaddou before taking us to meet one of the artists who makes gorgeous artworks using tea, saffron, indigo, water and fire.

Ait Benhaddou
As seen on TV... Look familiar?

Movies and shows filmed at Ait Benhaddou

Views from the top of Ait Benhaddou

A quick lunch followed our venture through the real life movie set and then we were on the road again. We spent a lot of time driving because the journey to the Sahara was quite long. I enjoyed the time on the road though. It was nice to be able to just sit and listen to music without having to worry about anything, with gorgeous and constantly changing views out the window. It was surprisingly relaxing and not once did I get sick of it. 

After a few hours, we stopped at a kasbah. That's right, a real life kasbah! Those of you who went to Warwick will know why I'm so excited by this. While studying abroad at Warwick, I spent every Monday night at Coventry's number one club called, yep you guessed it, Kasbah. Kasbah was my favourite because there was face painting, burgers and best of all, £1 Jager bombs! This real life Kasbah didn't have £1 Jager bombs but was still pretty cool nonetheless.

Next stop for us was the Dade Gorges, our home for the night. Our hostel was situated within the Dade Gorges which meant that we were surrounded by them. Our night there was my favourite part. Our whole crew and everyone in our tour climbed up onto the top of the hostel's roof with blankets and pillows and camped out for a while just talking, getting to know each other and gazing at the stars. 

One by one, our new friends began to head to sleep because of our early start the next day but Lauren, Payne, Nesh and I stayed on that rooftop until at least 2am talking about the crazy six months that we had had on exchange, reminiscing about all of our favourite memories. This still goes down as one of the best nights of my life. Lying on a rooftop in the middle of the Dade Gorges was so surreal and had me wondering how I got so lucky to end up where I was. The stars were incredible because the sky was so clear. I mean I've definitely seen stars in the sky before, but not like this. We could even see satellites moving around in the sky it was that clear!

Us in front of a Kasbah!

Dade Gorges

Thank you to my new friend Bob for this gorgeous photo! My camera had no chance of capturing the stars and the photo is his. He also gave me a few photography tips which I'll keep in my back pocket :)


We jumped out of bed in excitement on the morning of day two, ready to jump back into the mini van and head off. Today was the day that we were going to be riding camels through the Sahara! We were only on the road for a few hours before we reached a small berber village on a ravene. We were greeted by a local berber who had been organised to show us around the village and it was such a unique experience seeing how different their lifestyle is compared to mine back in Australia. 

Our berber guide told us many stories about life in the berber village but my favourite had to do with their unique courting tradition. If a man wants to marry a woman, he has to offer something to her family depending on how desirable the woman is. On average, a woman is worth one or two camels. Some could be worth up to ten or twenty. The berber joked about meeting a woman the other day who wasn't even worth one chicken. What I loved best about this story is that even though marriages are essentially arranged, women still have a choice and can choose to not marry their courter if they don't want to. Hell yeah berber values!

Once we had been shown through the village, we arrived at a hardened mud village which was amazing to walk through. It was completely different to any sort of building structure I had ever seen before. We were then taken into one of the homes which turned out to be a rug display room. We were immediately greeted with mint tea and biscuits and this ritual quickly became one of my favourite things about Moroccan culture.

We were told about the process of hand weaving rugs, how it was an art that the village depended on as their main source of income and how each rug could take up to two years to make depending on how intricate they were! Hearing about the rug making process was actually really interesting and something that I really enjoyed. The rugs were all so beautiful as well. I actually would have bought one if shipping it home was an issue. A few of our tour group bought some rugs including Lauren and Morgan who got a really cute friendship rug.

Mud village

Entering the rug shop

Fresh mint tea

Rug weaving

After the rug shop experience, we hit the road again and drove past some pretty spectacular views before arriving at Todra Gorge which was also gorgeous. We were told that the rock face changes colour as the day goes on but unfortunately, we weren't there long enough to see for ourselves. Local families bathed in the fresh waters, with women doing some washing against the rocks. The sun was scorching and I was so tempted to go in for a dip as well but I felt like I would almost be imposing. I guess the other tourists felt the same because very few of us dared to dip our feet into the water. The Torda Gorge was out final stop before reaching the Sahara!

Todra Gorge

Tagine, my favourite!

Driving towards the Merzourga, I stared mindlessly out the window as our mini van bumbled along the bumpy roads. We had been driving for hours and I had kind of zoned out. If I had known that we were so close to approaching the desert, I might have been more focused on being present in the moment. It was only when the faint outlines of the Saharan sand dunes began to peek out from the horizon did I snap out of my daydream and stare in awe. My demeanour had done a complete one eighty. I had gone from slouching in my seat in boredom to pasting my face onto the window, straining to get a better look at one of the world's greatest wonders.

Soon, we were at the edge of the Sahara desert, standing in a group of about fifteen people, engaged in a staring match with fifteen camels that were obviously our ride in. We all excitedly wrapped out scarves around our heads like the local berbers demonstrated and mounted ourselves on a camel each, equipped with a small bag with just our essentials for the night. I quickly grew attached to my camel, who I affectionately named Billy. Riding into the vast orange desert was surreal to say the least. Weaving amongst the colossal sand dunes, I felt like I was in a scene straight from Indiana Jones!

Our ride into the desert

I'm going to be honest, the novelty of the camel ride wore off, really fast. It actually got really uncomfortable about five minutes in but lucky, the scorching heat that I had been fearing was not an issue at all. I couldn't help but think that if I was so uncomfortable right now, how was Billy feeling? I clung onto the reigns with a slight pang of guilt and focused on not falling off.

We rode through the vast desert for an hour or so before we saw something other than orange sand. Our camel ride came to an end once we reached the tents that we were going to be staying in for the night. At this point, we were so far into the desert and without any phone reception, I had no idea where we were. We could have easily been on the border of Algeria. Leaving my new friend Billy to rest, it was time to explore our new surroundings. Everywhere I looked, there was more and more sand. The sand was so fine and soft and felt like heaven between my toes. The child in me came out and I, along with my new travel companions, raced up and down the sand dunes, exploring our home for the night.

Home for the night

My new friend Billy

After we'd had our fun exploring our sandy surroundings, it was time for dinner. We all huddled into the berber tents and grouped around low round tables excitedly waiting for our meals. All that running really built up an appetite! Sitting cross-legged on the sand whilst digging into a vegetable tagine with our new local berber friends had me completely immersed in another world. It felt so natural being there and life was so simple at that moment. Of course, dinner was accompanied with mint tea. What Moroccan meal isn't?

Dinner was filled with amazing chats, everyone shared their unique travel stories and we all quickly inhaled our dinner. Our table was left feeling unsatisfied and we tried scourging around the other tables for leftovers, but had no luck. Cheekily, we asked the berbers if we could have seconds and surprisingly, they said yes! But only if we ate with our hands "like the locals do" was the only condition. We, of course, happily obliged. Berbers are known to be tricksters though so when one came out with a closed tagine pot, we all thought he would open it to reveal absolutely nothing but lo and behold! There was another, slightly larger serving of vegetable tagine! It tasted even more delicious eating it with our hands. 

Berbers taking a break
Running up desert sand dunes
The rest of the night is one that I'll never forget. After dinner, we all danced around a large campfire while the berbers sang traditional songs while playing the bongos. I was so relieved to find that the dessert night wasn't too cold. One of the few perks of visiting Morocco during the peak of their summer. Once our little campfire party died down, we all started to settle on the sand in little groups, lying on our backs and chatting about anything and everything. The view of the stars was so incredible, words even can't describe it. There were more stars in the sky than I had ever seen. It was also kind of weird viewing stars that I had never really seen before in my life. We were spotting constellations that can't be seen from the Southern Hemisphere down in Australia. It was such a magical moment lying amongst the sand dunes of the Sahara with friends, both new and old, playing music from our phones and counting the shooting stars in the sky.

Although we were meant to sleep in the berber tent that night, Lauren, Nesh, Payne, Morgan and I thought that the opportunity to sleep directly under the desert stars was too good to pass up and we all sneakily dragged our mattresses and blankets out onto the open sand. As we began to settle down for the night, we were surprised when slowly, the others in our tour group began to drag their sleeping gear out to join us, placing themselves around us so we were in the centre of a big desert slumber party. I felt like a kid who had just done something I wasn't meant to as we all whispered and gigged silently with glee at our ingenuity to sleep under the stars. There is no doubt that this was one of the best nights of my life. The starry sky was the last thing I saw before I shut my eyes and fell asleep.

Unfortunately, morning came quick. We were up by 5am to ensure that we were on our camels riding back to town by 5.30am. Seeing the sunrise as we rode our camels out of the desert was the last thing on the Sahara Tour itinerary. It was a bittersweet moment. I was sad to be leaving the beautiful sand dunes that we had briefly called home but on the other hand, I was extremely excited to return to plumbing! Peeing in the sand wasn't particularly fun. Once the sun began to rise, it was spectacular. Slowly, the sand dunes around us began to illuminate into their distinct bright orange that was hidden in the darkness. It was almost like a light switch was being turned on. Thankfully, the camel ride back was a lot more comfortable than the one into the dessert and we were back to town before I had time to even process the gorgeous sunrise.

Once we arrived back in town, the tour mini van was headed back to Marrakech but we had decided earlier that we wanted to head straight to Fez instead of backtracking. A few others in our tour group decided the same thing and our tour guide called up a couple of cabs for us to take all the way to Fez. The journey to Fez was eight hours, and we did it in a normal sized cab filled with seven people. That's right, seven! There were two of us sitting in the passenger seat and four sitting in the back seat and it was definitely an interesting but difficult journey, but that's a story for another blog post...

The Sahara Tour still feels like a dream. The whole experience was so surreal that sometimes, it's hard to believe that it actually happened. It goes down as one of the best things that I have ever experienced and I would go back in a heartbeat. I met the most amazing people and witnessed the most beautiful things. If the Sahara Dessert isn't on your bucket list, I'm telling you, you're out of your mind!;postID=3209518711867969795;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=7;src=postname


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