Morocco desert

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Morocco means ‘the place the sun sets' in Arabic, and it really does live up to its moniker. This northwest African nation does indeed enjoy some spectacular sunsets. With the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Mediterranean Sea to its north, the country is home to the most famous desert in the world: the Sahara. 

What makes the Moroccan desert landscapes unique? 

The Moroccan Sahara offers a true escape among otherworldly landscapes of golden sand dunes and precipitous mountains. There are hundreds of activities to enjoy here, from exploring palm oases to visiting the kasbahs (walled cities) that sit on the fringes of the desert. Have an adventure among the dunes on a camel, or camp overnight beneath the stars.  

The best desert tours and excursions in Morocco 

Expansive valleys and gorges, and a vast, arid desert with the occasional oasis—Morocco’s landscapes vary wildly. Here are some of the best adventures in deserts in Morocco. 

Hiking in the Dades Gorge

Formed by the Dades River, which cascades down from the Atlas mountains, this spectacular, cavernous gorge is a true highlight in Morocco. The walls of the gorge range from 600 to 1,600 feet tall, and it's dry for most of the year, making it a brilliant hiking destination. The rainy season brings raging torrents of debris-filled water, so avoid this area from November through March.

Climb the sand in Erg Chebbi

One of the largest dunes in Morocco is found in Erg Chebbi, a sea of dunes located in the pre-Saharan steppe, made from wind-blown sand. Rising almost 500 feet in some places, the Erg Chebbi dunes stretch along the entire rocky desert border with Algeria. 

Try rock-climbing in the Todgha Gorge 

Near the town of Tinerhir (also known as Tinghir), a series of limestone river canyons called the Todgha Gorges cut through the landscape, with cliffs delving 1,300 feet below. The gorges are accessible by an asphalt road and are a popular spot for rock climbers, owing to its versatile rocky sides. Come here to try climbing for the first time, or to enjoy a challenge as a seasoned pro. 

Take a camel ride into the Draa Valley of Zagora 

Known as the Moroccan gateway to the Sahara, Zagora is located at the foot of the Atlas Mountains in the southeast of Morocco. Join one of the many camel treks that leave from Zagora to get out into the vast desert. You’ll trek out to a camp where traditional Berber tents await, and a dinner of Moroccan tagine is cooked by locals. When the sun sets, look up to the skies to see millions of stars. You might even see the Milky Way.

Explore a film set at Erfoud 

In the Drâa-Tafilalet region of Morocco is the desert oasis town of Erfoud, near the Merzouga dunes of Erg Chebbi. Thanks to its natural beauty, the town is a popular filming location and was used for blockbusters like The Mummy, Prince of Persia and even James Bond films.

Tips for planning a desert tour in Morocco 

While you’ll enjoy blistering sunshine during the day in Morocco’s desert, at night it gets incredibly cold so bring a scarf and plenty of layers. In winter (November through February), temperatures are at their lowest, which makes hiking and camel-trekking far more pleasant.

When to go in Morocco?

The best time to travel to Morocco is Spring or Autumn, when the temperatures are at their most pleasant. In the summer, temperatures can be stifling and winter does not show Morocco's charms so well, especially as it can rain in the North. If you handle heat well or if you go to the mountains, you can also travel between May and September.
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