Tips for Planning Your Trip to the Sahara Desert
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When I think of Morocco, I think of the Sahara desert and that is precisely why I wanted to visit Morocco so much. Do you plan your trip? This is what you can expect from a trip to the Sahara desert and, more importantly, how to plan it.
There are many options to find the right trip in the desert. Although many people are scammed or end up having a bad experience. To avoid this, I invite you to read this publication.
Where is the Sahara desert?
Part of the Sahara desert is in Morocco. You can find it in the south of the country and in the east (very close to the border with Algeria).
When it comes to visiting the Sahara desert, there are two places where tourists usually go.
Erg Chebbi and Erg Chigaga.
Both places are popular for their sand dunes.
Erg Chebbi is known for its high dunes and easier access, while Erg Chigaga is known for its vast dunes and remoteness.
We went to Erg Chebbi, which was easier to find. In this publication, all the information will be in Erg Chebbi.
How far is the Sahara desert?
Marrakech, you can expect a lot to drive. They are about 600 km depending on the route chosen. Even if you don’t see that far when you look closely at the map, know that driving in the Atlas Mountains takes time. There is work on the road, winding roads and it takes much longer than we thought.
To give you an idea, you can wait approximately 9 hours of constant driving to reach your destination. If it stops on the road, it can take up to 12 hours.
In general, trips to the Sahara desert include stops along the way. We stopped on the desert road to explore other parts of Morocco (you can read our full itinerary here). However, when we left the Sahara desert, we returned to Marrakech and it took us around 11 hours with very limited stops.
What is the nearest airport?
The nearest airport is Errachidia Moulay Ali Cherif. Another alternative could be Ouarzazate, which is still far, but closer than Marrakech, for example.
We made our trip to the Sahara in 3 days (plus 2 days in Marrakech). The first day, we stopped along the way to see different points of view. We spend the night in a riad in Rose Valley. The second day, we stopped along the way and finally reached our destination: the Sahara desert. We spend the night there. On the third day, we returned to Marrakech.
That said, I think you should take a minimum of 4 days. This way, you won’t spend most of your days in a car. Given the driving time needed to go to the desert, I think it would be worth spending two nights in the desert.
When is the best time to visit the Sahara desert?
If we know that summer is too hot, winter can be quite cold at night. We went in September 2019, which was ideal. The days were hot and the nights were cooler (refreshing). The locals have recommended going during the winter, but I guess it could be a bit cold for me.
At the end of the day, there is no bad time to go to the Sahara. But … you should know that yes, sometimes it can rain. We did not experience rain, but one of our friends rained during his trip in August.
What to pack for your trip in the Sahara desert?
Depending on the season, this list may change. Although this is what we needed for our trip to the Sahara.
Light jacket for morning and afternoon: it was quite cold at dawn and at night.
Comfortable sandals: walking in the sand with shoes is a feeling that I really hate, ha.
Scarf or pareo: of course, this can help protect you from the sun, but let’s be honest, it’s pretty photogenic in the desert.
Flashlight (or just use your phone): if you plan to go out to see the sunrise, it will be dark.
Tablets against movement sickness: while driving in the Atlas Mountains, you can get sick if you are not well on winding roads.
Comfortable and light clothes.
Enough money: otherwise, you can always ask your driver to stop at an ATM, but depending on where you are, options may be missing.