October means chilly fall temperatures in some parts of the Sahara. But the desert is vast, and in its northwestern section—where it crosses into Morocco—the weather is lovely at this time of year. The dry desert air cools off quite a bit after the summertime peak, with average temperatures in the low 70s, highs in the low 80s, and lows in the low 60s. Ideal weather for pretty much any activity you want to do, in other words: just be sure to dress in layers, and plan to stay out of the direct sunlight in the hottest part of the day.
For more information, see our article on Morocco in October.
Crowds & Costs
Though not considered part of Morocco's peak travel season, October is still a popular time to visit: travelers who've done their research ahead of time know that this is a good time to visit, weather-wise, and some people come specifically for the two festivals that happen in the Moroccan Sahara (see below) in October. That said, you'll also see fewer families traveling at this time, as October is still early in the school year in the US and Europe.
As long as you plan ahead to some degree (and are aware of the major festivals happening in the region this month), you'll have a solid choice of accommodations and tours to choose from. Just be aware that European travelers often plan weekends (or long weekends) to Moroccan destinations, sometimes with side trips into the desert, and you'll probably encounter more tourist traffic on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Otherwise, you'll pay standard prices and see a manageable flow of travelers around the Moroccan Sahara.
What To Do
Sunny autumn is a nice time to do any activity in the desert, from driving through the Sahara in a Jeep to riding a camel over the dunes. Because temperatures do get warm in the afternoon, it's best to plan your excursions earlier in the day, then take a break during the hottest hours.
Visitors in October may wish to plan their visits around two important festivals that happen in the Moroccan Sahara at this time of year. The Date Festival and the Taragalte Festival, held in Erfoud and M’Hamid El Ghizlane, respectively, provide excellent insight into local culture and customs. As a plus, both events are close to other attractions in the desert. If you're going to Erfoud for the Date Festival, for instance, it's easy to detour to the dunes of Erg Chebbi—and it's a great time of year to go.
Events in October
Date Festival - This three-day celebration of the end of the harvest season for dates—an important part of the local diet—happens each year in the oasis town of Erfoud. Crowds turn out for dancing, live music, parades, and food stalls.
Taragalte Festival - A festival celebrating nomadic culture, this three-day event in the desert oasis of M’Hamid El Ghizlane is worth planning your trip around. Expect live music, poetry readings, art installations, and great food.
Visiting the Morrocan Sahara in October? 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.