Sahara Desert Hiking and Tour

7 Days Sahara Desert Hiking & Tour

With 1 night at camp:

€1225 per person with Berber Camp
€1390 per person with Deluxe Camp

Price based on two people travelling by private vehicle.

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The Experience

With this seven-day circular trip from Marrakech explore the south of Morocco with a combined Sahara desert hiking and 4×4 tour. A unique introduction to Morocco’s great outdoors and the Iriqui National Park. For those who wish to experience Sahara desert hiking and camping off the beaten path, along with a night glamping at the isolated Erg Chigaga dunes. Cross the Atlas mountain range at its two most renowned high passes, each above 2000m, the Tizi n Tichka and Tizi n Test passes. Enjoy Morocco’s southern hospitality in characterful kasbah guest houses. The trip may be extended before returning to Marrakech by either staying in the Atlas mountains, or by crossing over to Essaouira on the coast.


The itinerary includes:

The Route

The Itinerary

Day 1

Marrakech to Ait Ben Haddou

Drive from Marrakech towards the UNESCO Site of Ait Ben Haddou. Gaining altitude after leaving the plain of Marrakech, eventually traverse the High Atlas Mountains via the Tichka Pass (at 2260m), offering some exhilarating driving via lush valleys and traditional pise villages. After the pass, take the route to Telouet (visit the Kasbah Glaoua there) and then follow the course of the beautiful Ounila Valley*, in the foothills, to reach Ait Ben Haddou. Ait Ben Haddou is essentially a living museum, comprising numerous ksar (series of earth dwellings) and has been used as the backdrop in many international films. You will overnight close to Ait Ben Haddou, in a restored kasbah guest-house. We propose Kasbah Ellouze. An alternative option would be the Riad Caravane. Both properties nestle within small hamlets.

*The route of the Ounila Valley was part of the main caravan trade route to Marrakech, from sub-Saharan Africa, and when the High Atlas were crossed at the Telouet Pass (centuries before the French constructed the road used today, across the Tichka Pass).

Desert tours & desert camps in Morocco - Wild Morocco

Day 2

Draa Valley and Zagora

Option to wake early to bake bread with some of the Berber neighbours in their home. Take breakfast and also sample the fresh bread once it is baked. (You won’t be able to do so if you stay at Riad Caravane guest house – you could instead take an early morning guided walk or explore Ait Ben Haddou before the crowds). Thereafter, set off for the day’s drive to Zagora to bypass Ouarzazate, and then cross the outer reaches of the Anti-Atlas mountain range to join the course of the Draa Valley at Agdz. The route follows the Draa southwards (the Draa is Morocco’s longest river, flanked by glorious palm oases & crumbling kasbahs). We suggest you overnight at Zagora palm grove to minimise the driving hours. Proposed guest house in Zagora is Dar Sofian. You will have chance to enjoy the pool on arrival and relax under the palms (tomorrow is an early start!).

Day 3

Trekking to Erg Chigaga Great Dunes

After an early breakfast, drive south to the end of the tarmac road at the village of M’hamid El Ghezlane. Driving beyond M’hamid a short distance, you will rendez-vous with your desert guide and camel caravan. The camels will be loaded and then you will trek by foot in to the desert today and the following morning, aiming west towards Erg Chigaga Great Dunes. Your driver and vehicle will meet you the next day after lunch. Trekking duration today approx. 5 hours (and break for a leisurely lunch in shade).

Late afternoon, wild camp will be established in the seclusion of small dunes, a fire lit, dinner prepared, and, after dinner, some fire-side singing with your Berber hosts.

Day 4

Erg Chigaga Great Dunes

After breakfast, camp is struck and the morning’s trek will continue westwards. Trekking duration today approx. 3 hours, with break for lunch under the shade of Tamarisk trees. The terrain is ever-changing, with desert scrub and broad plateaux. Option to ride by camel-back during the trek.

After lunch, your driver and vehicle will collect you to transport you the remaining distance across the desert (approx. 90 minutes off-road drive) to a fixed desert camp at Erg Chigaga great dunes (either the rustic Berber camp, or a luxurious camp). NB: the Berber camp is at the foot of the tallest dunes in the Erg Chigaga, we encourage all our guests who stay there to hike to the ‘summit’ of the region before sunset.

Expect to arrive at the desert camp late afternoon with chance to freshen up before walking out on to the rolling dunes. Watch the sunset from a vantage point. Enjoy music next to the campfire after dinner. Overnight at the fixed desert camp for one night.

Day 5

Foum Zguid

After breakfast, enjoy a relaxing morning and exploring the dunes by foot. Leave the camp and drive out of the desert in the opposite direction to how you arrived, i.e. north-west. Drive off-road across the desert for 90km to the town of Foum Zguid, via arguably some of the finest remote scenery in Morocco (including the vast dried salt flats, at Lake Iriqui, the imposing mountain ridges of the Jebel Bani and Madouar canyons, and acacia tree groves). You will also cross vast fossil beds, stopping to make a fossil hunt.

We’d suggest you take picnic lunch with you, to eat en-route, or take lunch at camp before setting off. Spend the night at Foum Zguid at Bab Rimal guest house.

Day 6


From Foum Zguid, pass westwards through the Anti-Atlas mountains (the Jebel Bani) via dramatic and arid scenery, interrupted by palm oases and small settlements. Drive through the towns of Tazenakht and Taliouine (gateway to the Jebel Sirwa range and the main source of Morocco’s saffron production). Beyond Taliouine, gradually descend to the plain of the Souss River to reach the medieval walled town of Taroudant, you will spend the night just outside the town. We propose guest house Dar Zitoune. If time permits, we’d suggest a visit around the remparts in the early evening.

Day 7

Return to Marrakech

From Taroudant today return to Marrakech, via the adventurous route across the High Atlas mountains, crossing at approx. 2100m (at the Tizi n Test pass – weather dependent) through some breath-taking mountain scenery. The road is single-track in places and steep on the ascent. Descend via the villages of Ijoukak and Ouirgane, optional stop at Tin Mal mosque en-route. Leaving the alpine-like peaks behind, eventually reach the Marrakech plain by mid to late afternoon. NB: we are able to extend the trip with overnights in Ouirgane at a mountain hotel.

When to tour?

Try to avoid the height of summer and depth of winter

Temperatures not only in the Sahara but also in Marrakech, Ouarzazate & Anti-Atlas are in the 40s °C in summer. In winter (typically January) snow in the mountains can close the high passes at times, or lead to unexpected delays and route changes. The weather conditions in the desert are prone to change quickly and never predictable. However windy conditions in the desert are common, this is not the same as a sandstorm.

Going the extra mile

Don’t underestimate geographical distances and travel times. Although Morocco is smaller than Spain, traveling in the South can lead to long driving hours due to the nature of the terrain here (mountains, desert, valleys). Be prepared to travel on average 5-6 hours per day. It’s far better to miss out a couple of places to maximise time elsewhere and to enjoy the journey. You can always come back!


Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus, commonly known as the ‘saffron crocus’. Saffron crocus grows to 20–30 cm (8–12 in) and bears up to four flowers, each with three vivid crimson stigmas. The styles and stigmas, called threads, are collected and dried to be used mainly as a seasoning and colouring agent in food. Saffron is one of the world’s most costly spices by weight. Its aroma is often described by connoisseurs as reminiscent of metallic honey with grassy or hay-like notes, while its taste has also been noted as hay-like and sweet.