Morocco Desert Tour Review: A Trip of a Lifetime in the Sahara Desert

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Climbing a massive sand dune for sunrise was just one of the many highlights of my trip into the Sahara Desert in Morocco. Our experience was everything that I dreamed about as a child and more.  Fascinated by it from history books in grade school, I never expected I would be able to see it one day. Thankfully, Morocco offers relatively easy access to the spectacular Sahara.
The beautiful Tinghir Oasis
My friends and I wanted to stay at least 2 nights in the Sahara Desert but we had limited time in Morocco so we decided to settle for an overnight stay. We also planned to see other must-visit places in the Atlas Mountains so we booked a trip with Mouhou Tours who had arranged a 3D/2N trip for us from Fes to Marrakech. To anyone planning a Sahara Desert Tour from Fes or Marrakech, this personal review of our 3-day Sahara Desert Private Tour is for you. Here I will share our experience, including the places we visited, itinerary, costs, what to expect, and more.
somewhere in the Middle Atlas Mountains
Private Tour vs. DIY Tour in Sahara Desert
Before I tell you more about our trip with Mouhou Tours, let me just share with why I decided to avail a private tour for our group instead of our usual DIY-style travel. As first time travellers in Morocco, my friends and I are not confident with navigation, especially in Sahara Desert and the Atlas Mountains. Also, we were worried about language barrier. It will be extremely hard to ask the locals for directions if we can’t speak decent French and Arabic. In addition, a private tour with an expert guide aided us with more cultural appreciation. Our driver/tour guide, Ali from Mouhou Tours, introduced us to the local culture, history of the places we visited and other stuff we would have never known if we did the tour on our own.

We hated the idea of being shuffled around like cattle and being stuck in a big bus with other tourists we did not know so we settled for a private tour. Group tours normally have very tight schedule and minimal freedom so we chose to pay extra for a private experience. We get to stop whenever we want and go wherever we want. It was truly worth it! 
Lake in the Middle Atlas Mountains
Mouhou Tours
The amount of tour companies offering Sahara Desert Tour in Morocco is overwhelming, it's hard to decide who to go with. Thankfully, I came across Mouhou Tours in TripAdvisor. It is a locally-owned tour company based in Merzouga, Morocco founded in the year 2008. Managed by Aziz Mouhou together with his team of professional drivers and knowledgeable guides, Mouhou Tours offer specialized excursion programs all over the country. Our driver/tour guide, Ali, was very friendly, knowledgeable and helpful throughout the entire trip. 

So how much does a 3-day Sahara Desert Private Tour from Fes to Marrakech costs? We were five in the group and each of us paid 2,200 Moroccan Dirhams or about 12,000 pesos

Here are the inclusions on the trip:
  • Private air-conditioned vehicle (Hyundai Starex during our trip)
  • Experience Driver/Tour Guide
  • Pick up you from your accommodation in Fes and drop off at your accommodation in Marrakech
  • Accommodation for two nights (Standard Desert Camp and Riad Dades)
  • Camel Ride led by a Berber guide 
  • Sandboarding
  • All breakfasts and dinners
 Stopping at a spot overlooking the Ziz Valley, home to the largest oasis in Morocco. 
Do you really need to ride a camel in Sahara Desert? 
That was the question I had in mind when I was in Morocco. While I am not a vegetarian or vegan, I despise the idea of using animals for human entertainment and that includes going to the zoo or riding an elephant. It's my ultimate goal to be an ethical traveller because I care about animal rights and I have zero interest in contributing to a cruel system. The problem: camel riding is required to get to the desert camp. I can walk in the desert but the idea of encountering sand snakes, scorpions and god-knows-what-other-poisonous-creature hiding in the sand freaked me out. 
Our guide, Hassan, guided our 1-hour camel trekking to get to the camp and back to Merzouga. 
Thankfully, the camels I did see being used in the desert seemed pretty well cared for. Ali, our driver/tour guide from Mouhou Tours, assured me that the owners treat them well because this is how they earn a living. He said camels are sensitive and if they are treated badly during training, it would be a real problem for the owner. Our desert guide, Hassan, the young man on this photo, was really kind to the camels. He really cared about them. One of the camels got stressed out when my friend Mond tried to hop on his back. He just gently rubbed its big tummy and said something. The camel then let my friend hop on his back. Hassan “the Camel Whisperer” was really great! 
Thank you for the amazing Sahara experience, Hassan!
Our 3-Day Sahara Desert Itinerary
Day 1 - Fes to Merzouga
At exactly 8 in the morning, we were picked up by Ali from our accommodation in the Medina of Fes. We made a brief stop at Ifrane, considered as Morocco’s “Little Switzerland.” From the Swiss town, we made our next stop at the Cedar Forest located in the Middle Atlas Mountains. Aside from the vast area covered in Cedar Tress, considered by many to be Morocco's national treasure, we found troops of wild Barbary Apes who were being fed by tourists who were passing by. 
our simple but cozy desert camp in Sahara Desert
Then we finally reached Merzouga for the much-awaited Sahara Desert camping...

Camel trekking in Sahara Desert wasn’t that easy. To access the camp from Merzouga, we had to brave a 1-hour camel ride through countless dunes. It was NOTHING like riding a horse. You get on a camel while it's laying down on the ground, and if you don’t hold on tight to the saddle metal frame, then you will shoot up in the air as they rise quickly. Imagine riding a mechanical bull in a theme park. That’s how scary it was for me. Thank God Camelia (yes, I named him) cooperated and didn’t break my neck. Lol.
our Berber guides entertained us at night with some local music
After an hour, our group reached the desert camp located in the middle of nowhere. All the tents featured views of the desert. We had access to a simple but private bathroom. That night, we were treated with traditional, Moroccan music and dinner, while looking at the stars. There were so many stars in the sky that night and it reminded me of those nights I spent with my friends at remote beaches in the Philippines.  It was such a beautiful night that I will never forget.
golden sand stretched along the horizon as far as the eye could see.
The next morning, my friends and I woke up early to climb the nearest sand dune. We took pictures of ourselves on the dunes then sat down to wait for the greatest show. Seriously. It was one of the best sunrises I have ever seen. It was magical. I felt so grateful to be able to visit Sahara Desert. 

Day 2 - Merzouga to Todra Valley to Dades Valley
After breakfast at the desert camp, our group travelled back to Merzouga. We rode the camels again, which was certainly much easier and less scary. We spent the second day driving towards Todra Valley and Dades Valley in the High Atlas Mountain area. We made a stop at a viewpoint to get an excellent view of a lush palmerie oasis in a Berber village called Tinghir. I was so amazed by this immense green palmeries which stretch out as far as the eyes can see. The scenery was just incredible and honestly, it was one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen in Morocco.

After a day of sitting in the car, arriving at Riad Dades to be greeted with a cup of steaming hot mint tea and amazing views of Dades Valley was a real treat! 
the old Berber villages and the lush palmeries in Tinghir
so surreal, no?
the Zigzag Road in the High Atlas Mountains
Day 3 - Dades Valley to Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou to High Atlas Mountains to Marrakech

Channeling my inner Daenerys Targaryen in Ait Ben Haddou, the real-life City of Yunkain in the Game of Thrones.
Aside from Sahara Desert, the part where I am so excited about before the trip was Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou, the real-life City of Yunaki in the Game of Thrones. Seeing it from our car’s window almost made me cry tears of joy! I was really geeking out on it because it was really amazing! Lots of little spots to see and explore. And of course, a photo at the gate of Ait Ben Haddou channeling my inner Daenerys Targeryen is a must!
Tizi n'Tichka, the mountain pass linking Ouarzazat and Marrakech through the High Atlas mountains
Overall Experience
In a nutshell, our 3-day Sahara Desert Private Tour is one of the best tours I have ever had. I felt like we went from highlight to highlight during our trip, so it is difficult for me to say which one is my favourite experience. The thrilling camel trekking to get to our desert camp and the awe-inspiring landscapes of Sahara Desert; Visiting the oasis in the Atlas Mountains; Walking along the Gorges; and just simply travelling in the company of my friends were all highlights. I returned to the Philippines with plenty of wonderful memories. In fact, I’m hoping to repeat the same trip again when I go back to Morocco, just next time in autumn or winter for a different perspective. I highly recommend Mouhou Tours, and would also recommend joining a private or small group tour to get the most of your trip.
sunrise watching at the Sahara Desert
Some tips for the Sahara Desert Tour:
  1. Bring sunscreen, lip balm with SPF, sunglasses, scarf, and a hat to protect yourself from harmful UV rays. 
  2. Make sure to fully charge your camera before the tour starts. Pack spare battery, power bank and memory cards to capture all those amazing landscapes.
  3. Pack some motion sickness pills, anti-histamine and other over-the-counter medication. You’ll never know when you are going to need those.
  4. Consider getting a travel insurance. While the odds of something going wrong are slim, it never hurts to be prepared. 
  5. Bring plenty of water - it is a desert after all!
  6. In planning a Sahara Desert tour, choose a reliable company that definitely takes care of their camels. I am no expert but I can honestly tell you that we didn't see any mistreated camels in Merzouga or Erg Chebbi. Read TripAdvisor reviews or tell the tour company that you will not ride a camel in bad condition. 
Interested to do this trip?
You can check out Mouhou Tours official website to see what package suits your interest and budget. For private tours, just email them to see how they can customize your trip. If you are a solo traveler, they offer shared tours as well. You can read other travellers review of their service at TripAdvisor

Useful Info
Mouhou Tours
Official Website: http://www.mouhoutours.com/
Email: mouhoutoursadventures@gmail.com
Cell Number: (+212) 667-850-421 (WhatsApp available)
Phone Number: (+212) 637-390-658
Facebook: @mouhoutours
Instagram: @mouhoutours

That's about it my dear readers! I hope you find this post helpful for your trip! Is Morocco included in your bucket list? Have you been there before? Let's chat down below! :)

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