Last Updated on January 7, 2019 by Jeremy
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When visiting Morocco, we had one experience on our mind above all others- taking a trip out into the Sahara desert to see the famous sand dunes.
As this was to be one of the highlights of our trip to Morocco, we wanted to make sure we do this one right and found numerous options for the trip.
Some tours went one way from Fes to Marrakech, others did the reverse, and even more did round trips from each city. As we were making a big loop around Morocco on our trip, the one-way from Fes to Marrakech made the most sense for our itinerary.
We then had to decide between the two night and three night tour, and not wanting to turn down more time in the desert we opted for the three night tour. In this one, we want to dive down into that one question you may be having if you're having the same problem: what do you get out of that extra night?
Note: We are reviewing our experience on Sahara Desert Trips in this article. We were not hosted for this tour in any capacity and paid for the tour ourselves. In other cases we would likely not call out the tour company by name, but we are here as itineraries are all over the map for Sahara tours.
More Time in the Desert with a Three Night Tour
On the itineraries heading from Fes to Marrakech, the main difference between a two night tour vs a three night tour is the amount of time in the desert (or more specifically, the sand dunes portion of the desert trips).
As this is one of the primary reasons you're taking the tour in the first place, we think the extra night is crucial to fully enjoy your visit.
On the two night tour the first day begins about 2.5 hours earlier, hits all the main sights along the way, and arrives into Erg Chebi just before sunset where you immediately hop on a camel and head out to the desert camp for dinner. The next day you're back on the camels first thing in the morning and continue on to the Dades Valley just as in the three night tour.
The amount of time you spend out enjoying the dunes, outside of sleeping at the camp, is just a few hours.
The three night tour, on the other hand, leaves later and finishes the day at the dunes of Erg Chebi just like the two night tour. Instead of heading out into the dunes when you arrive, you spend the night at a hotel right at the edge of the dunes and call it a day.
The following morning is spent exploring the region around the dunes, including visiting the nomadic tribes, the khamlia village, seeing fossil rocks, the Dayte Sarji lake, and even allowing for some time to relax at your hotel's pool. Then as the sun is about to set you head into the desert to enjoy the dunes like in the two night tour.
The amount of time you spend out enjoying the dunes, outside of sleeping at the camp, is about eight to ten hours. However, keep in mind that most of the extra is the region around the dunes and not on the dunes themselves (you can still see them throughout most of the day).
It doesn't seem like much, but when you consider that the first day on the two night tour is fourteen hours long you may quickly realize that it is, for lack of a better word, insane.
Still, getting out into the dunes of the Sahara desert for a night is magical, and even though getting there is a challenge in its own right, the payout is worth it. If your only option is the two night tour or nothing we'd still recommend the two night tour, but just know you're going to be in for a long few days.
The three night tour takes the insane travel schedule and makes it more bearable, and even here we're being generous in our choice of words. It is truly a lot of time in the car.
What Else Do You See Aside from the Desert Trips?
Now, if you're like us, you probably are thinking of booking the tour for the desert. And when we say desert, we really mean the dunes of Erg Chebi as there is far more to the “desert” than rolling sand dunes.
The question then is not how awesome the dunes are (we know that one), but what else is there to see in eastern Morocco. These spots are the ones that often go without talking about as the dunes take center stage.
Well, as Angie booked this tour for us I can safely say that I had no idea what we were going to do- making it an even bigger surprise when we visited the following spots:
- Erfoud – home to date palm trees as far as the eye could see and fossil craft shops.
- Ouarzazate – home to kasbah built in the 19th century.
- Todra Gorges – beautiful and steep gorges.
- Azrou – home to endangered monkeys and massive Cedar trees.
- Ifrane – often considered to be the Switzerland of Morocco (it even snows there in winter!).
- …and more!
So while you make be booking a Sahara desert trip for, well, the stereotypical desert, you actually end up getting far more during the journey (and that is us just giving you a tease).
Morocco's Sahara Desert Tours are a Driving Tour
When it is all said and done, we have to circle back to the beginning of this article to remind you that the tours of the Sahara Desert in Morocco are an intense driving tour.
You'll be spending anywhere from eight to fourteen hours a day in the car, and often only stop at some of the highlights noted above for just a few minutes to get out, appreciate the scenery, snap a few photos, and stretch your legs.
So while you should still do the desert tour if the two night tour is your only option, just be warned that it is going to be a very intense experience.
While the three night tour does not see much more overall when you really stop to think about it, we can guarantee that it will be a more enjoyable experience for all involved if you give yourself the extra day- especially if time in the sand dunes is your #1 priority (as it likely is).
We're glad we did.
About the Author: Jeremy is a full-time travel writer based in Pittsburgh and primary author of this site. He has been to 70+ countries on five continents and seeks out new food, adventure activities, and off-the-beaten-path experiences wherever he travels.