Large trekking on the dunes

Boutique Sahara Desert Tour to Erg Chebbi

A 4 day trip from Marrakech out to the magnificent Erg Chebbi sand dunes staying at boutique hotels. Camel trekking, sleeping under the stars, hiking in the shade of date palmeries a visit to the crumbling Kabah Telouet and the Unesco World Heritage site of Ait Benhaddou. This is a fantastic way to get a taste for Morocco's South East.

Tailor-made Classic 4 days

'From Price' is the average price per person for ground arrangements for two people sharing.

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Tourdust is rated 4.9 out of 5 stars


…We were really happy with the service we got from Tourdust which can be best described as friendly, efficient and expert.....

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Itinerary

Overview

Morocco's south east, whilst not on every traveller's itinerary, holds a plethora of interesting sights, both man-made and naturally occurring, to explore. Located on the former caravan trading route between Morocco and the desert, thousands of crumbling kasbah dot the hillsides. The most famous of all is Ait Benhaddou, used as a backdrop for several Hollywood movies, including Gladiator. The landscape is ever changing, from the red-rock Atlas Mountains, to the mesa and butte formations protruding out of vast rocky plateaux, to steep gorges and rich palmeries. But it is the naturally occurring sand dunes or Erg Chebbi and Erg Chigaga which is arguably the region's biggest draw. With vast dunes, rising up to around 150m, the silent and unspoilt dunes offer a second to none desert experience.

This tour begins and ends from your base in Marrakech and leads you out of the chaos of the city to the unparalleled peace of the desert. You begin by heading out of the city and over the High Atlas mountains on the Tizi-n-Tichka pass, affording some amazing views. With optional stop offs along the way at the Ouarzazate film studios, or hiking opportunities, you will spend your first night at Dades Gorge. Your second day will see you heading out to the rocky desert, stopping off for an optional hike along the way. In the late afternoon, you will arrive at a kasbah in the desert, where you will meet your guide and camel and trek off over the dunes to your camp for the night. After an early morning start the next day, timed to coincide with a spectacular sunrise over the dunes, you will head to Ait Benhaddou, a Unesco World Heritage site, well worth an explore. The following day sees you visiting the crumbling Kasbah Telouet, before heading back to Marrakech.

Day-by-day

Please note itineraries are provided for guidance only and are subject to change if the weather or other factors change.

OPTION 1
DAY 1: MARRAKECH - DADES VALLEY
Description: You will be picked up from your accommodation in Marrakech at 9.00am and head out over the Atlas Mountains, driving over the stunning Tizi-n-Tichka mountain pass. You’ll pass through lots of Berber villages, and once you’re in the desert, you’ll see riverside oases and barren hillsides dotted with kasbahs (fortified dwellings that house families and their livestock). Along the way, you will have the option either to take a break and visit the Ouarzazate Film Studios or stop for a hike. Once you reach Dades Gorge, you have the option of going for a hike, or relaxing at your hotel. Overnight in Dades. (Total driving time 4 - 5 hours)
Meals: Breakfast and Dinner
Accommodation: Kasbah Tizzaruine
Transport: (Total driving time 4 - 5 hours)

DAY 2: DADES VALLEY - TODRA GORGE - MERZOUGA
Description: Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer from the Dades Valley to Todra Gorge - a massive fault dividing the High Atlas mountains, rising up 300 metres in a narrow valley with palmeries and Berber villages. Here, you can go for a hike to explore the palmery, a green oasis full of large date palms. After lunch you’ll head further into the desert to the gateway town of Merzouga to pick up supplies for your desert trip. You will then drive on to a kasbah to pick up your camel. At sunset, you’ll trek for an hour-and-a-half by camel to a Berber camp where you will enjoy a traditional Moroccan dinner, and sleep under the stars or in tents at a desert camp. (Total driving time 3 - 4 hours)
Meals: Breakfast and Dinner
Accommodation: Mohayut Desert Camp
Transport: (Total driving time 3 - 4 hours)

DAY 3: MERZOUGA - AIT BENHADDOU
Description: Wake to a desert sunrise and then return to the kasbah by camel. You will then have a chance to freshen up and enjoy a breakfast. Once you are refreshed, you will head out of the desert for a drive to Ait Benhaddou. This is an ancient fortified city containing countless kasbahs and has been the atmospheric subject of numerous hollywood movies (The Mummy, Gladiator, Alexander, Lawrence of Arabia...) You will have the chance to walk around the buildings and explore with your guide. You will overnight in a hotel close to Ait Benhaddou. (Total driving time 5 - 6 hours)
Meals: Breakfast and Dinner
Accommodation: Kasbah Ellouze
Transport: (Total driving time 5 - 6 hours)

DAY 4: AIT BENHADDOU - MARRAKECH
Description: Travel along the Ounilla Valley to the Telouet Kasbah, a crumbling kasbah that was once an important stop for traders. Explore the Kasbah and then after lunch, you will head back over the Tizi-n-Tichka Pass to Marrakech (Total driving time 4 hours)
Meals: Breakfast only
Accommodation: N/A
Transport: (Total driving time 4 hours)

OPTION 2: 4 DAY BOUTIQUE ERG CHEBBI + MARRAKECH
DAY 1: ARRIVE MARRAKECH
Description: You will be met at the airport and transferred to your riad in Marrakech. The rest of your day is at leisure, we strongly suggest you wander down to the Djemma El Fna to get your first tasted of what the city has to offer. For dinner, you may choose to pre-book a meal served on the roof terrace of your riad.
Meals: Breakfast only
Accommodation: Marrakech Boutique Riad (Riad Dar Hanane, Berber, Patio or Garden rooms or Riad Tzarra Persia or Tibet rooms)
Transport: Transfer Riad <> Airport

DAY 2: MARRAKECH - DADES VALLEY
Description: You will be picked up from your accommodation in Marrakech at 9.00am and head out over the Atlas Mountains, driving over the stunning Tizi-n-Tichka mountain pass. You’ll pass through lots of Berber villages, and once you’re in the desert, you’ll see riverside oases and barren hillsides dotted with kasbahs (fortified dwellings that house families and their livestock). Along the way, you will have the option either to take a break and visit the Ouarzazate Film Studios or stop for a hike. Once you reach Dades Gorge, you have the option of going for a hike, or relaxing at your hotel. Overnight in Dades. (Total driving time 4 - 5 hours)
Meals: Breakfast and Dinner
Accommodation: Kasbah Tizzaruine
Transport: (Total driving time 4 - 5 hours)

DAY 3: DADES VALLEY - TODRA GORGE - MERZOUGA
Description: Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer from the Dades Valley to Todra Gorge - a massive fault dividing the High Atlas mountains, rising up 300 metres in a narrow valley with palmeries and Berber villages. Here, you can go for a hike to explore the palmery, a green oasis full of large date palms. After lunch you’ll head further into the desert to the gateway town of Merzouga to pick up supplies for your desert trip. You will then drive on to a kasbah to pick up your camel. At sunset, you’ll trek for an hour-and-a-half by camel to a Berber camp where you will enjoy a traditional Moroccan dinner, and sleep under the stars or in tents at a desert camp. (Total driving time 3 - 4 hours)
Meals: Breakfast and Dinner
Accommodation: Mohayut Desert Camp
Transport: (Total driving time 3 - 4 hours)

DAY 4: MERZOUGA - AIT BENHADDOU
Description: Wake to a desert sunrise and then return to the kasbah by camel. You will then have a chance to freshen up and enjoy a breakfast. Once you are refreshed, you will head out of the desert for a drive to Ait Benhaddou. This is an ancient fortified city containing countless kasbahs and has been the atmospheric subject of numerous hollywood movies (The Mummy, Gladiator, Alexander, Lawrence of Arabia...) You will have the chance to walk around the buildings and explore with your guide. You will overnight in a hotel close to Ait Benhaddou. (Total driving time 5 - 6 hours)
Meals: Breakfast and Dinner
Accommodation: Kasbah Ellouze
Transport: (Total driving time 5 - 6 hours)

DAY 5: AIT BENHADDOU - MARRAKECH
Description: Travel along the Ounilla Valley to the Telouet Kasbah, a crumbling kasbah that was once an important stop for traders. Explore the Kasbah and then after lunch, you will head back over the Tizi-n-Tichka Pass to Marrakech (Total driving time 4 hours)
Meals: Breakfast only
Accommodation: Marrakech Boutique Riad (Riad Dar Hanane, Berber, Patio or Garden rooms or Riad Tzarra Persia or Tibet rooms)
Transport: (Total driving time 4 hours)

DAY 6: MARRAKECH
Description: Today we suggest you set off and explore Marrakech's medina. You can spend all day pounding the souks and taking in the atmosphere or you could relax on the roof terrace on one of the sun loungers. You might want to enjoy dinner in one of the restaurants over-looking the main square, or perhaps ask your host to book you a table at the atmospheric Foundouk restaurant, serving up delicious French & Moroccan fusion food.
Meals: Breakfast only
Accommodation: Marrakech Boutique Riad (Riad Dar Hanane, Berber, Patio or Garden rooms or Riad Tzarra Persia or Tibet rooms)
Transport: N/A

DAY 7: DEPARTURE
Description: You will be transported back to the airport in time to catch your flight home. Marrakech Airport is around 15 minute drive from the medina and you should aim to get back to the airport 2 hours before departure
Meals: Breakfast only
Accommodation: N/A End of Services
Transport: Transfer Riad <> Airport

Accommodation


Guide price is based on recommended accommodations. Alternative accommodations and upgrades are available. Please get in touch or click on 'alternatives' below for alternatives and upgrade options.

Chez Pierre

Sahara Desert

Our rating

6/10

Price guide

Price rating 3

- Stunning, traditional building
- Mountain views
- Simple, traditional rooms

Mohayut Desert Camp

Sahara Desert

Our rating

6/10

Price guide

Price rating 3

- Dinner by starlight
- Camel Trek

Kasbah Ellouze

Sahara Desert

Our rating

8/10

Price guide

Price rating 3

- Terraces & Pool
- Beautiful location
- Lovely ambience
- Warm hosts

Details

Getting there

Flying from the UK... Marrakech has an international airport (RAK) which is serviced by several airlines flying direct from the UK. The flight time is around 3.5hours. On average it takes around an hour to clear airport security and then around 15 – 20 minutes to drive to the Medina or 1 – 1.5 hours to reach the Atlas Mountains.

From the South East:
Gatwick: Easy Jet, British Airways, Royal Air Maroc &Thomson
Luton: Ryanair
Stansted: Ryanair & Easy Jet

From the South West:
Bristol: Easy Jet

From the Midlands:
Birmingham: Thomson

From the North:
Manchester: Easy Jet and Thomson

From Ireland:
Dublin: Ryanair

Price includes

Transfers to/from Marrakech, half-board accommodation, services of an English-speaking tour guide, 4x4 with driver, camel ride and overnight camping in sand dunes.

When is best?

This tour is available throughout the year except during Ramadan. In the summer, you can expect highs of up to 45C (although for the hottest parts of the day you will be in the car or in the shade).

Is it for me?

This tour is perfect for those who want to explore the Kasbahs and countryside of Morocco, as well as visit the the Saharan dunes and experience camping under the stars. There is no heavy trekking involved so it is very much accessible to all. We have selected comfortable boutique guesthouses to provide a relaxing environment after a long days driving. By its very nature the desert camp is basic, but some efforts have been taken to add a degree of comfort to the experience (e.g. proper beds).

You don't need any prior riding experience for the camel riding. Camels are lead by a guide, so you just need to hold on. Rides are timed for sunrise and sunset so that you are not riding at the hottest time of the day.

The dunes themselves are around a 10 hour drive from Marrakech. This trip reduces the car journeys into more bite sized chunks, but you will still be in the car for several hours each day.The car will have air conditioning. If you travel in the summer, when the days are longer, there will be many chances for stops along the way, but in the winter, with shorter days, there will be less time for stops. You can discuss your options with your guide as you go, whether you would like to make time to stop and visit the film studios in Ouarzazate, or whether you would like to stop off and hike along the way.

Safety

For the latest travel advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth office check www.gov.uk/travelaware

What customers are saying after travelling with Tourdust

Average Rating

based on 612 reviews

(4.94/5)

  • We had a wonderful time on our trip through Morocco. We would rate the experience a 4/5 overall and Tourdust a 5/5. We had a wonderful time seeing the Moroccan country side. The only negatives were the extensive driving time (couldn’t be avoided) and that we wish we’d had a little bit more time on our own. We loved both our guide and our driver, but four days straight together was a little much.

    Tourdust did a completely perfect job coordinating the trip. I was sure SOMETHING was going to go wrong. But the only things that did were our own errors (such as arriving at the airport too late).

    Thank you so much for your help! We hope to use you again on a future trip.

    MissingBetsy Twitchell reviewing Boutique Sahara Desert Tour to Erg Chebbi on 06 June 2012

  • It was totally awesome!! Climbing the Toubkal summit by moonlight is just breathtaking!!! Yes it was absolutely freezing and so glad I took layers of thermals and hat and gloves!!

    The Riads you booked were great, we both loved them, although we preferred the second Kasbah in Imlil we stayed in to the Kasbah Toubkal on our first night, our room was great especially after being in hostels for several nights!! Boy were they cold!!!!

    El Fenn is fabulous, Lilly Allen had been staying with her band that week and left the day we arrived! Love that place, we are planning to go back next year! Caravanne was like walking into a little boutique hotel, loved that place as well.

    There's something special about the mountains, loved it!

    The desert camp was really well organised, although to be honest I think two nights are enough as there is not a lot to do and it is blisteringly hot by 9.00!! But we were looked after really well and had my first glass of wine for two weeks, went down very well!!! The sundowners were so much fun, especially trying to walk through the dunes after a couple of wines!!

    Really great adventure and thank you so much for putting such a fab trip together for us!

    MissingLiz Rowsell reviewing Sahara, Souks and Mountains Explorer on 14 October 2015

  • We had a a wonderful time in Morocco. We were delighted with our guide Mustapha. He was a brilliant pairing for us as he tuned into what we liked and didn't, taught us lots about history, culture and geology and really looked after us at all times. I would recommend him to anyone in the future. Hamid our muleteer and Sayed our driver were also excellent.

    We loved the itinerary that Rebecca put together for us. She was right about how much we could fit in and so we will have to return another time to try Essaouria!

    Apart from the additional bed-fellows during the trekking (which was in itself a learning experience!), we were really happy with all our accommodation. We loved the fact they were small, often family run and that the staff would look after you completely. It was so reassuring to see the clear process of quality assurance by Tourdust. It was great to meet Anna at Riad Adore and to know that the company really is passionate about its customers having a great time and the lengths they go to test that for themselves.

    We were really happy with the service we got from Tourdust which can be best described as friendly, efficient and expert. The team showed genuine interest in us and our trip and I felt that Rebecca was almost as excited as we were by the time all arrangements were in place. The information pack provided was invaluable too and I must admit I printed the lot because it turned out to be more useful than guidebooks. We usually travel independently and like to do so. We'd forgotten how relaxing it can be to have someone do all the hard work of planning and scheduling and even making a decision of where to stop for lunch. I'm certain that these things made the holiday the special experience that it was.

    I am struggling to think of just one thing which could have been improved. The only thing I can think of is to add 'hat and gloves' to the itinerary for the Toubkal summit. Although I think this is included in the winter trekking advice, I don't think its listed otherwise. It was darn cold up there due to the wind chill, but Mustapha had a spare pair so I was ok. If I missed it on the list then apologies.

    We will definitely be using Tourdust again and look forward to hearing about any new destinations that you add (we are interested in Cuba next!!)

    MissingMatthew McSweeney reviewing Sahara, Souks and Mountains Explorer on 10 November 2014

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Alternative Itineraries

Our itineraries are carefully designed by our experienced travel designers based on years of experience and customer feedback. For a custom itinerary tailored to you, please enquire giving as much detail as possible on your brief.

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'From Price' is the average per person price for ground arrangements for two people sharing.

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