The Sahara Desert is huge, and the weather varies throughout its subregions. In the desert's northwest—which is in Morocco's southeast—May means full-on spring. The average temperature hovers in the mid-70s, with highs in the upper 80s and lows in the 60s. It's one of the sunniest months of the year in the Moroccan Sahara, and also one of the windiest: be aware that sandstorms are possible, as well as a passing rain shower, but you're more likely to be looking for shade in the middle of a hot afternoon than seeking shelter from inclement weather.
For more, see our article on Morocco in May.
Crowds & Costs
Tourism is on the rise in May. Though this trend isn't specific to the desert, lots of international travelers come to Morocco in May on itineraries that include stops in the Sahara, so you may notice that tours fill up and hotels are booked well ahead of time, and that prices are a little steeper in May than they were earlier in the calendar year.
The best way to handle the busy season is to plan ahead. Book your flights, trains, hotel rooms, and tours as far ahead as possible. But once you're out in the desert, you don't have to worry too much about crowds: the Sahara is vast, even in this Moroccan corner, and you'll have plenty of wide-open space to explore and enjoy.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
What To Do
The relatively pleasant weather in May makes this is a good time for outdoor adventures in the Moroccan Sahara, with one caveat: you'll want to get an early start on the day and stay out of the sun in the hottest part of the afternoon. Whether you want to trek on the dunes or take a camel ride, it's best to go early (or at sunset, when the temperatures have cooled off a bit).
Looking for something to do at midday? Take a break for a lunch—indoor or in a shaded venue is best—and enjoy browsing in the small shops and covered marketplaces of the desert's many villages. Consider a day trip to Ouarzazate known as the “Hollywood of Morocco," famous for the many films and TV series that were filmed there, including "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Game of Thrones." If you can plan your visit on a weekend, you'll be able to shop in the city's famous Sunday market, too.
If you're willing to venture slightly away from the desert, the Valley of the Roses, which hosts a major harvest festival in May, is located a 1.5-hour drive from Ouarzazate. See more below.
Events in May
Labor Day (May 1) - Some shops and businesses close for the annual holiday.
Festival of Roses (dates vary) - Not exactly in the desert, but close enough for a day trip, El Kelaa M’Gouna in the Valley of Roses hosts this harvest celebration. It's the time of year when Damascus rosebuds are plucked from their bushes to make rose water, and the weeklong event brings a parade, live music, traditional Berber dancing, and food stands to the village's streets.
Ramadan (dates vary) - Muslims fast during the daylight hours, from dawn to sunset.
Visiting the Morrocan Sahara in May? Check out these itineraries.
Moroccan Highlights: Fes, the Sahara Desert, & Marrakech - 6 Days This whirlwind trip takes you to Morocco's top attractions, including Fes, the Sahara Desert, and Marrakech.
Marrakech & Grand Tour of the Sahara Desert - 6 Days Explore the peaks of the High Atlas mountains and the vast sandy landscapes of the Sahara on this outdoorsy tour.
Morocco's Imperial Cities & the Sahara Desert - 13 Days See Casablanca, Fes, Essaouira, the Erg Chebbi Dunes and more on this well-rounded trip plan.