Where do the Sahara Desert treks start from and how do we travel there?
The cheapest way to reach the start of the trek (the village of Mhamid) is by public bus. This is a 10 hours journey from Marrakech, crossing the Atlas Mountains and driving along the Draa Valley oases. The bus operator that travels directly to Mhamid is CTM with one daily departure. Their website is ctm.ma and your destination is ‘Lamhamid Ghozlane’. CTM also offers a route to Zagora if the Mhamid timetable isn’t suitable.
You will need to buy tickets in advance online. Budget for approx. 320 Dirhams each person for a return ticket.
CTM has a dedicated terminus in Marrakech (‘la gare CTM’ if you ask a taxi driver to take you there).
As of November 2018, there is an internal direct flight from Marrakech to Zagora, operated by Air Arabia. Zagora airport to Mhamid is approx. 1 hour 20 minutes by taxi. Flights depart twice per week.
The alternative, particularly reasonable if you are travelling as a small group/family, would be to rent a small car to self-drive and break up the journey to Mhamid with an overnight stop en-route (e.g. at/near Ouarzazate, 4 hours from Marrakech).
A private 4×4 vehicle transfer with chauffeur from Marrakech to Mhamid is Eur €250 one-way. The direct car transfer takes approx. 8 hours, excluding any time for stops and visits en-route (i.e. make the short detour to visit the Ait Ben Haddou UNESCO Site near Ouarzazate).
You may consider taking the bus down to Mhamid one-way and arrange a private vehicle transfer out of the desert back to Marrakech – this works with either of the linear trekking routes to the Erg Chigaga Great Dunes. The driver will collect you at the dunes and take you out of the desert via Lake Iriqui and Foum Zguid (3 hours off-road travel) and then 6 hours via the tar road.
What kit essentials do I need to bring on trek and is there any weight restriction to my luggage?
We advise you to bring a sleeping bag, especially in the Winter months. We provide blankets and sleeping mat but you will be more comfortable with a sleeping bag.
Please bring clothing you can layer easily as temperatures will fluctuate greatly day to night. You will certainly need a down jacket/warm jacket, hat and warm sleepwear in the months November through to late February. A long-sleeved shirt for protection against the sun.
Footwear should ideally be worn-in and trekking sandals (with long socks) are ideal. Running shoes/trainers will be suitable for hard terrain.
There is no weight limit to luggage but about 20kg per person is fine. Your luggage (and the camping equipment) is transported by camels in large baskets, therefore a soft duffel-style bag works well for packing purposes.
Other essentials should be sun protection and personal medication kit. We offer further guidance on packing on the link here.
How many hours each day can I expect to trek for and is it possible to ride by camel for some of the time?
On average, you can expect to walk for up to 5 hours each day (with a break for lunch under shade of trees of up to 2 hours – which allows time for the camels to be unloaded, Moroccan tea prepared, lunch cooked, and camels reloaded). The lunch pause is a good opportunity to take a nap, read a book, take photos or help chop some vegetables with the cook.
It is possible to ride by camel-back for some of the trek. You should simply mention this to the guide before the camels are loaded with the equipment (so that the camels each carry a fair weight distribution). We don’t provide a ‘spare’ camel for trekking unless you anticipate riding for most of the route (an extra camel at extra charge).
Do you cater for a vegetarian/gluten-free/vegan diet? Do I need to bring my own water?
Dietary requirements are catered for and the meals are mostly vegetarian-based (with seasonal fresh produce available from Mhamid).
We provide bottled mineral water, which you should also use for brushing teeth.
Please mention your dietary restrictions at time of booking.
Can I take a shower during the trek?
Water is a precious resource in the desert. We don’t carry enough water with the camels to allow for showering/washing every day.
We are able to provide water for hand and face washing in the evening once camp is established. Please ask your guide.
We suggest you bring wet-wipes and dry soap (hand gel).
If you plan to camp at the Erg Chigaga great dunes on your final night, please enquire with us on the possibility to camp at a fixed camp at the dunes, which will have shower facilities. Camping on the final night at the Erg Chigaga at additional rate.
Who are we trekking with?
Unless you specifically request to join up with other trekkers, we run our desert treks on a private basis. You will trek with your own guide, cook and camel caravan.
Our guides all speak French and most speak English – please let us know if you require an English speaking guide.