The Merzouga desert: a camel tour and camping in the Sahara of Morocco!

Near the city of Merzouga, in the southeast of Morocco, lies the Erg Chebbi desert, part of the Sahara. Merzouga is the base for a desert tour by camel or by 4×4. Or how about a camping trip in which you sleep in a beautiful camp in the Sahara! In this blog, we tell you all about our experiences with a multi-day desert tour including a camel safari + overnight stay in luxury tents in the desert of Morocco!


The Erg Chebbi desert near Merzouga in Morocco!

When you think of Morocco, you naturally also think of the Sahara. This vast desert is located in the south of Morocco. One of the gates to this deserts is the city of Merzouga. Merzouga itself is not very special, you certainly don’t have to stay here long. However, this is the place from where you visit the Erg Chebbi desert (part of the Sahara).

In Erg Chebbi, you can do all kinds of fun activities. For example, it is possible to stay overnight in the desert while camping in a Berber desert camp. Or how about making a camel ride or explore the sandy hills on a 4×4. In this travel blog, we tell you everything you need to know about the Erg Chebbi Desert near Merzouga! How do you get to Merzouga and the Sahara? How do you book a camel tour and desert trip? What do you pack for a desert trekking? We also share our experiences with a two-day desert trip where we camped in the Erg Chebbi desert!

Morocco merzouga desert cameltrip

Which part of the Sahara do you visit in Morocco?

Which desert is the most beautiful or best for a camel ride combined with camping? We wondered that too! Because it is difficult to find good information about this, I try to answer this question with this blog.

Erg Chebbi vs. Erg Chegaga

As you can read above, we slept in the Erg Chebbi desert, which is located near Merzouga, all the way in eastern Morocco. A little more in the middle of Morocco is another desert, the Erg Chegaga desert.

Erg Chegaga desert

The Erg Chegaga desert is said to be beautiful. The sand dunes are less high here (especially in the beginning). In addition, you can not just drive to the Erg Chegaga desert. The last two hours you exchange your normal car for a 4X4 (four-wheel drive). This means that the Erg Chegaga desert is a lot more expensive to visit.

Because the distances here are much longer, we do not recommend doing a camel ride in Erg Chegaga, as you cannot go deep enough into the Sahara to reach high dunes. All in all, it sounds like the Erg Chegaga is a lot less interesting, but that is certainly not the case. Precisely because it is more difficult to reach, there are far fewer tourists here. So if you are looking for an experience where you feel completely alone, we recommend the Erg Chegaga desert!

Erg Chebbi desert

The Erg Chebbi desert is a popular area of ​​the Sahara, bordering the city of Merzouga. Erg Chebbi is easy to reach, after a 10-minute camel ride, or 5 minutes by 4×4, you are surrounded by meter-high sand dunes. The dunes are quite high here, which creates beautiful pictures, and there are many different desert camps. These tent camps are very luxurious, true glamping in the desert! Due to the proximity of the city of Merzouga, the supply of running water and electricity is well arranged in this part of the desert. Keep in mind that you will always see other visitors in the Erg Chebbi desert. It is beautiful so a tourist attraction for a reason.

So which desert do you choose? Erg Chebbi vs Erg Chegaga?

I think when this is your first experience with the desert, it doesn’t matter which of the two you choose. Both will be fun! However, if photography is very important to you, then the Erg Chebbi desert might be a better pick!


4 cool things to do in the desert of Merzouga!

If you travel to Merzouga, you mainly come for the Erg Chebbi desert. There are a number of options for exploring the desert. Below you will find the four best activities in the Erg Chebbi desert!

1. Take a desert trip by camel from Merzouga(day tour)

If for whatever reason you feel less comfortable with an overnight stay in the desert, it is also possible to take a camel day trip in the desert.

Tip: do this at the end or at the beginning of the day, otherwise it is much too hot! In addition, it is good to realize that if you will not spend the night in the desert, you will sleep in Merzouga. Scroll down for an accommodation tip in Merzouga!

2. Spending the night in a desert camp: a combination of glamping and a camel ride

You depart from Merzouga into the desert by camel. During a two-hour camel ride, you drive through the desert while the sun slowly sets. It is a magical sight. Once arrived at the desert camp, beautiful Berber tents are waiting for you. In this luxury glamping tents, you will sleep tonight. The next morning you return to Merzouga by camel safari. We chose this activity in the Erg Chebbi desert. Scroll down to read more about our experiences!

Morocco merzouga desert cameltrip

How do you book a multi-day desert camping trip?

There are three ways to book a multi-day desert safari. First of all, you can spontaneously arrive in Merzouga and book a camping trip there on the spot. Upon arrival, you will be attacked by the sellers and there is plenty of choices.

Would you rather have arranged a desert trip in advance? Then contact one of the desert tour providers. If you google a lot of websites will pop up, all of which are about the same. We booked with Omar via this website. Our experiences with Omar were very good.

Finally, it is also possible to book a desert safari online via GetYourGuide. The advantage of booking through GetYourGuide is that they have already done the preliminary work in terms of selection. You can also book tours through GetYourGuide that do not take place in Erg Chebbi or that include transportation from another location in Morocco.

  • Desert trip from Merzouga? Click here for the GetYourGuide offer.
  • Visiting the Merzouga desert from Marrakech? Click here for the range of desert safaris on GetYourGuide.
  • Coming from Fez? Then click here to book a camel ride through GetYourGuide.

3. A desert safari by four-wheel drive (4×4)

Is riding a camel not your thing? Or do you prefer cruising through the sand? Then go for the desert safari by 4×4. With a lot of speed you race through the dunes and you see a beautiful sunset. This is also possible with an overnight stay in a luxury desert camp. Click here for more information.

4. Sandboarding in the desert near Merzouga

Another possibility to enjoy the Sahara desert is to go sandboarding! You can slide off the naturally formed sand dunes. Click here for more information about sandboarding in Erg Chebbi.


A special experience: a desert tour in the Erg Chebbi Sahara

Slightly tense we enter Merzouga. It feels a bit like we’re in the setting of The Walking Dead. The city has been demolished and seems deserted, except for some Moroccans hanging around. Every few meters they call a little to us, or even crazier, one jumps in front of the car and then knocks on the window and shouts something at us in Arabic. We drive on quickly, we don’t get off, the thermometer shows 43 degrees, no cloud in the sky and everything around us is dusty. Welcome to one of the last cities before the desert begins. Or … actually we don’t feel really welcome at all …

The start of our glamping experience in the Merzouga desert

We drive to the post office, where we agreed with Omar at 5 p.m. Omar is our contact person with whom we have booked a camel tour & overnight stay in the desert. He has already warned us, only when we are approached by someone who knows that my name is Charlotte, then it is Omar. And indeed, right at 5 p.m., an astonishingly clean wave is coming (our car is unrecognizable because of all the sand from the last 5 hours of driving), the window goes down, and we hear “Charlotte?” Great, we are in good hands! We both leave a sigh of abandonment.

Waiting at the pool before the camel ride through the desert starts

Omar takes us to hotel Nomad Palace, ten minutes’ drive from the paved road. Here we park our car and have plenty of time to change clothes, go on wifi (we have not had internet for 3 days) or cool off in the swimming pool. From the swimming pool, we have a great view: about ten camels that are grazing peacefully and behind them large red mountains of sand: the Sahara. While we relax for a while we start talking to a couple from Brisbane. Together with their daughter, who has just studied at Oxford for half a year, they are also taking a road trip through Morocco. Later it appears that we are in the same group, nice!


Are you also planning to go to Marrakech? Make sure to check out our free city guide about this magical place!


Merzouga desert track

How to get on top of a camel?

When it is almost time to go, we change quickly our clothes. Despite the heat, we wear long, thin trousers (Ries has quickly bought white cotton trousers somewhere on the street), closed shoes and a scarf. Thick layers of sunscreen on my face and arms, because I don’t have a long-sleeved t-shirt with me (that doesn’t seem to be necessary later on either). To protect against the sun, Omar knots a Berber cloth on our head using the traditional method of wearing. When we walk towards the camels, the animals look at us from behind their long lashes.

Driving a camel through the Moroccan desert!

We are helped by one of the Berber guides to sit down around a bump construction around their bump. A soft pat on the knee of the camel and WOOWHOOOH, in three steps the beast gets up and I suddenly sit two meters above the ground. The first meters feel a bit awkward and wobbly, but it is soon enough to enjoy ourselves when our procession of camels slowly walks into the desert. Around us, there are only high mountains of sand, and the long shadows because the sun gets lower and lower. Fortunately, the heat is not that bad, there is a nice breeze and the frozen bottles of water that we have received also offer a lot of cooling.


Would you like to combine the desert with the beach? Make sure to check our itinerary!


The beautiful camel ride through the Moroccan desert!

We drive through the desert for an hour and a half. Sometimes we come across other camel stands, or we see a tent camp somewhere in a sandy valley. We see the sun go down and stop to take pictures. It is dusk when we arrive at our white tent camp. Nevertheless, it is easy to see how beautiful it is. There are pouffes around a campfire and a path of carpets has been laid that goes to every tent. When I enter our tent, my mouth falls open in surprise. It is so luxurious! There is a huge four-poster bed, with a sitting area and a sink. Behind two awnings are our own shower (with hot water) and toilet. There is even electricity available, unbelievable, in the middle of the desert! The ultimate Glamping this! So delicious!

Together with the family from Australia, and a group of jolly Spaniards, we have dinner in the main tent. Then the campfire starts and the Berbers start to play drums and make music. And that’s how we end this great evening.

Admire sunrise in the desert!

At six o’clock the alarm goes off, time to watch the sunrise. We get dressed quickly and walk outside. The soft sand is cool on our feet. We walk drowsily into the dunes, going up requires a lot of effort, not going down, that is a matter of sliding. You sometimes sink into the sand up to your knee. It is starting to get a bit light, and Ries is running ahead to take some pictures of a higher dune. Suddenly he starts gesturing wildly and yelling that I must come. I do a sprint, to the extent that it is possible in loose sand, and come out of breath.

And then I see it … a bright red sphere that rises above the dark sand dunes. The sun has never been so big and it’s great to see! There is nobody around us, and we enjoy in silence. Slowly the sun rises further and it gets warmer quickly.

Back in the tented camp, we have breakfast with the group and then climb on the camel again. It’s time to go back. We are back at the hotel punctually at 09.00. We get into the car, both with a big smile on our lips. Wow-what a beautiful experience this was! We will do this more often anyway!


Night photography in the desert of Morocco!

The alarm clock rings the first time at 5 a.m. I will stay for a while, but Ries gets up to take pictures of the stars. There is hardly any light pollution here. The result is beautiful photos of the galaxy. It is a little early to get up but you get so much in return!

Tip: make sure you bring a tripod for star photography and take the position of the moon into account. You want the moon to be “gone.” For this Ries uses the free app “Star Walk 2


Do you want to know what is in our camera back? Click here to read more about our camera gear!


Transport: how do you get to the Erg Chebbi desert in Morocco?

The Erg Chebbi desert is close to Merzouga. You only have two options to get here.

  1. Self-drive. Drive here by car yourself. You can rent a car in any city. To give you an idea of the distance: from Marrakech to Merzouga it is approximately a 9-hour drive and from Ouarzazate, it is a 5-hour drive. We chose this option because the Merzouga, Erg Chebbi desert, was part of our road trip through Morocco.
  2. Via an organized tour. The tour company then arranges all the transportation. Please note, if you arrange this tour from Marrakech then you will take longer than the 9 hours we took it by car. The outward journey will then easily take 11 to 12 hours if the traffic is good.

What do you pack for an overnight stay in the desert?

It is handy to wear long light pants, closed shoes, sunscreen, sunglasses and a scarf or a cap during the camel ride. Afraid of muscle pain? Then book a camel ride that doesn’t take too long. We went for the one and a half-hour camel safari and went back for a while. You will feel it in your legs, but we did not have muscle pain. Of course, don’t forget to take your toilet bag and your camera. A small bag must be more than enough to put all the stuff in.

What we also recommend is a warm sweater and jeans. If you travel in the winter, even consider taking a jacket and gloves with you. The temperature can drop quickly in the desert, as soon as the sun is down, it gets ice cold.

You don’t need to bring food. The food that you get during the desert trip is delicious! If you have dietary requirements, please let them know in time.

Morocco merzouga desert cameltrip


Looking for nice hotels in your Morocco trip? Make sure to check out our hotel guide of Morocco!


The best hotels near Merzouga and in Erg Chebbi desert.

Sleeping in the desert is a special experience. During the day it is horribly hot and in the evening it cools down nicely. You can’t talk about real camping in the Erg Chebbi desert. It is more glamorous camping, hence the name glamping. You can expect a wonderful bed with glamping. And a private bathroom and toilet. Don’t forget to set the alarm clock in the night when the moon is down. At night you have a fantastic view of the stars and the galaxy here!

Omar Camel Trekking

This is the camp where we stayed and did our camel ride. Absolutely recommended, with very nice people. Don’t be alarmed by the outdated website, send Omar an email and will pay after the tour. From 80 euros per night.

Book here

Luxury Desert Camp

Looking for camping with the ultimate luxury, than book your stay here. The camp contains a lot more privacy, special activities and you can reach the camp by private jet, haha, if you have that of course! Prices from 320 euros per night.

Book here

Kanz Emmeral

Do you also consider staying a night in Merzouga? According to friend E., this hotel is adorable. It’s a few kilometres outside Merzouga. Laying in the pool you have a view of the sand dunes of Erg Chebbi. Prices from 60 euros per night

Book here


Click here for all my blogs on Morocco

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