The Sahara Desert is a top destination for travelers visiting Morocco. Most will arrive in Merzouga to see the Erg Chebbi Dunes or M'Hamid for the Erg Chigaga Dunes.
Truly, the best way to explore the Sahara desert is with a knowledgeable local guide who will share the rich nomadic Berber history of the desert along the journey. Here's a 5-day tour including a night in the Erg Chebbi dunes. For those with more time, the Imperial Cities & Desert Grand Tour is an ideal choice.
Duration: 4.5 - 12.5 hours,
There are several options from Marrakech into the Sahara Desert, bus, helicopter or car. Most travelers choose to go by car with a private driver.
A car will cover the 249 miles (561 km) in roughly 9 hours. Leaving Marrakech on the N9 Highway you will soon be in the High Atlas Mountains. Along the way, plan time to admire the views of the Tizi n'Tichka Pass.
Shortly thereafter, you will be near the ancient hilltop city of Ait Ben Haddou. From there, you will continue to the riverside city of Ouarzazate. Unhurried travelers can take a short hike to the Ouzoud Waterfalls and see Barbary Macaques. Ouarzazate is a good place to have a meal at a waterfront restaurant.
From here, take the N10 Highway until the turnoff for R113. Along the route, you may see people selling fresh dates from the local palm groves. Soon you will turn onto the N12 which leads you into Merzouga.
Alternatively, take to the skies in a private helicopter or plane charter. Arriving via helicopter will take nearly 5 hours, and a lightweight aircraft can make the journey in roughly 4 hours.
While there are bus services that take you into Zagora and Merzouga, they are painfully slow journeys. The stated travel time is 12.5 hours, but they can sometimes take up to 15 to hours, and are the last resort.
Duration: 3 - 12 hours
The 287 miles (463 km) drive from Fes into the Sahara Desert is full of ever-changing landscapes, and unique stops. Departing Fes, take the N13 Highway to the ski resort town of Ifrane, touted as "Morocco's Switzerland". Continuing on the same road, you will arrive into the Azrou Forest before approaching the Ziz Valley. Total drive time is roughly 7 hours, not including the stops you may want to make.
There is an overnight bus service departing Fes in the evening and arriving into Merzouga in the morning, with a total travel time of 12 hours.
Fes has several nonstop flights to Errachidia each week, with a travel time of one hour. From Errachidia, it's just 2 hours on the R702 to Merzouga. While there are flights from Fez to Zagora, they are not direct, and the total travel time makes the trip longer than going by car, so it's not advisable.
Duration: 3 - 13 hours
From Casablanca, it's a 9-hour drive along 411 miles (662 km) to reach Merzouga. You'll take the N13 Highway across the country towards the Eastern border. A good midway stop for lunch is the Berber village, Midelt. From there, it's back on the N13 for the rest of the journey.
The fastest way to arrive is by taking the direct flight from Casablanca to Errachidia, which is just one hour long. From there, it's only 2 hours to Merzouga by car on the R702 Highway.
While there is no direct bus service from Casablanca to Merzouga, you can take the bus to Errachidia. Some buses do make one additional transfer in Rissani. Total travel time for the bus journey is roughly 13 hours and not the best way to arrive.