Why taking a Sahara Desert tour is an opportunity you should DEFINITELY take advantage of.

Mojave Desert, Negev Desert, Black Rock Desert (Burning Man, amiright!?), Gobi Desert, and of course there’s the ever famous, Sahara Desert. When I originally planned my trip to Morocco, I decided against doing a camel tour through the Sahara, my reason being that I needed more time in Marrakesh. I also thought that riding a camel through the Negev when I was in Israel was enough (I was wrong. Once is never enough!). Continue reading to find out why I am SO glad I decided to change my original plan, and why you should definitely take a tour through the Sahara.

The places you’ll see…

For one, the drive to the Sahara, despite how long it is (very, very, VERY long…), is so interesting. You’re driven up mountains and through places that are so different from the cities. Obviously going to Africa is a culture shock in and of itself, but seeing some of these so called ‘towns’ was crazy to me, thinking that people live their lives in these places, with pretty much none of the things I have that I take for granted in my daily life.
And towns aside, just the views are so incredible at some points!
Marrakesh and Tangier are extremely westernized in comparison to some of these places, and that’s saying a lot. It’s all part of the learning experience, realizing that the world we are so used to, isn’t really the world for everybody out there.

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Ait Ben Haddou…

When taking the Sahara Desert tour from Marrakesh, you have two options. There’s the 2 day, 1 night tour which takes you into the Zagora region of the Sahara, and then there’s the 3 day, 2 night tour which takes you to Merzouga. I ended up on the shorter one due to time constraints, but if possible, I highly suggest taking the 3 day trip. From what I hear, Merzouga is more interesting than Zagora, but if you only have time for one night, definitely still do Zagora!
I’m not sure if the Merzouga tour takes you to Ait Ben Haddou, but I know that the Zagora tour stops at this ancient castle, and it’s definitely a sight to see. I can honestly say that I’ve NEVER seen a castle as incredible as this one. Made out of brick, rubble, and clay, it’s hard to believe that many people resided there once. You get to walk around and explore, even see a bedroom inside. And the views from the top are stunning.

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Cool turbans…

Okay so if you’re super opposed to cultural appropriation, you’ll have to get over yourself for this trip. When you’re riding a camel through the windy, sandy desert, you definitely won’t want sand and dust flying into your eyes, nose and mouth. The quick fix? Your guides will wrap turbans around your head to protect you. They’ll tell you before your tour to make sure to bring a scarf, and you’re going to want to make sure you listen. Because if a sandstorm starts and you’re open to mother nature, chances are, you won’t enjoy the trip as much. A couple of the guys in my group weren’t super stoked about having to buy scarves for the turbans, but they got over it and rocked the look.  (You can see they don’t look entirely happy while getting wrapped up).
So don’t fret about it – the turbans look awesome and make for some badass photos 😉

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The Mohammad’s…

Apparently, all the men in Morocco are named Mohammad, because all of our tour guides that day shared that name. Name aside, they were all so friendly and helpful, loved answering our questions, and loved showing us around.

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The camels…

Obviously riding the camels is one of the highlights of this tour. It’s an interesting experience, riding these creatures. They’re huge, way larger than we probably think when we just look at pictures. But sitting on them, you realize how high up above the ground you are. These animals, as large as they are, are also quite friendly and playful. It’s absolutely something everyone should experience for themselves.

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A night in the Sahara Desert…

By the time you arrive at your camp, it’s dark. You’re in the desert, there’s no electricity, no artificial light, nothing. So it’s safe to say that you can’t really see much of your surroundings, but that doesn’t get in the way of having a great night. The men who work at this camp have cooked up a delicious tagine dinner for your group plus all the others that are staying at the same campsite. After sitting around the ground level ‘tables’ and eating using phone lights, everybody congregates on the many blankets laid out on the ground, relaxing, looking at the stars, and enjoying the drum circle that the local men are entertaining everybody with. It’s a little surreal to lay there in the darkness, ignoring the sand that keeps sticking to your sweaty body, just appreciating the fact that you’re looking at the stars from the Sahara Desert.

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Waking up surrounded by sand dunes…

When you finally wake up in the morning, you get to see what’s actually around you, and it really is incredible. The campsite you’ve just spent the night in is completely surrounded by sand dunes. Maybe it’s just me who gets overly excited by sand dunes, but I thought it was so cool, because I’d never seen any in person, only in photos. You can look in all directions and see a never ending expanse of brown, desert, and sand.

The sunrise…

Need I say more? You’re woken up early, so that you can watch the sunrise over the dunes. Watch the sunrise over the Sahara – check!

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JUST DO IT!

Hopefully I’ve helped a bit in convincing you that taking a Sahara Desert tour would be a good idea. I enjoyed it SO much, and am so glad I ended up taking it. If you’re staying in Marrakesh, chances are wherever you’re staying will be able to help you book, whether you’re in a hotel or a hostel.

And make sure you get someone to take a photo of you on your camel to commemorate the moment! I’ve been told that I have the most badass Facebook profile picture of all time 😉

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