10 Top Things To Do In the Sahara Desert Merzouga | Morocco Travel Guide

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The Top Things to do in the Sahara Desert Morocco without question, our favorite region of Morocco. It may look as if there’s nothing but sand and sky but there’s a surprising number of things to do in Merzouga Sahara Desert.

As the largest, and one of the driest, deserts on Earth, it’s safe to say there are very few places in the world like the Sahara Desert. The infinite sea of sandy dunes all in different shades of gold is the perfect setting to experience a once-in-a-lifetime getaway filled with adventure, fun, and unique experiences.

Most people want to visit the Sahara Desert and explore it on a camel’s back. While that’s certainly an exciting adventure to have, there are many more things you can do in the desert!

There are few places on Earth that convey a sense of the infinite so well as the Sahara Desert. When you’re stood atop a giant sand dune, and in every direction are other giant sand dunes as far as the eye can see, it’s easy to feel a bit insignificant. That feeling goes double as night falls. In the desert, where the only light pollution for miles around is a few lanterns and the campfire where your meal is cooking, the sky is a velvet shawl studded with diamonds. It’s as though you can see to the other end of the galaxy. Well, perhaps we’re getting a little melodramatic here but the point is, if you crave mystery, romance and adventure, in the Sahara these are embedded in every grain of sand.

Any anyway, what more do you want from a desert? If you’re preparing for a trip to Morocco and the Sahara Desert isn’t on your itinerary, we beg you to reconsider.

In fact, we’d recommend you cut down your plans for Marrakech so you can spend more than a couple of nights in the desert.

The desert doesn’t necessarily have any stand-out attractions other than the obvious sand dunes. For us, the desert itself is the attraction. It’s just magical.

The Sahara Desert is one of the most authentic areas you’ll travel to in Morocco. Sure there’s people trying to earn a living from tourists but their way of life isn’t seen anywhere else in Morocco.

Find our suggestions below.

Top Things To Do In the Sahara Desert: Merzouga Tour Guide

Sleep in Merzouga Sahara, the desert of dreams

Sleeping in the desert, under a million stars! I just can’t describe the experience and do it justice. Just do it. Watching the sunrise and sunset from a tented sahara desert camp will leave you in awe of the natural beauty of the largest desert in the world. This is one of 10 top things to do in the Sahara Desert

sahara desert camp
Couple hug in love near big campfire. Romantic night in glamping desert camp in Sahara, Morocco. Honeymoon.

Take a camel train ride: 2 Top Things To Do In the Sahara Desert Merzouga

It’s quite normal to take a camel ride to your overnight campsite if you’re on an arranged tour. They’re not the most comfortable animals to ride and your guide will always be walking alongside the camel train.

But it’s a must do once in your life. Once you arrive in the desert, there’s no shortage of people offering to take you on a trek. Because of this, it’s far cheaper to arrange your trek when you arrive. But don’t forget to haggle. Hard!

Arranging a trip to the Sahara Desert in Morocco is easy if you don’t have your own transport. If you do, what are you waiting for?

morocco camel trek
Tuareg with camels in Sahara Desert in Morocco

Ride a quad bike through the dunes: Top Things To Do In the Sahara Desert Merzouga 2024

If you’re driving your own vehicle, you’ll find it almost impossible to get big trucks or heavily loaded 4wds to the top of the highest dunes.

Hiring a powerful and lightweight quad is a fun way to play in the Sahara dunes. 1 and 2 hour trips are easily arranged but they can be expensive.

Just take it easy. The dunes may appear soft and gentle but land in an awkward position at high speed and you’re in trouble.

Sand surfing or Sand Boarding: Top Things To Do In the Merzouga Sahara Desert

There are plenty of opportunities to hire sand/snow boards and sand skis around the populated dunes. It’s fun to do, once or twice, but there are no ski lifts so you have to walk back up the dune each time.

To improve the ski’s performance rub candle wax on the base. Failing that, you could always use your shovel and a rope. Did you know you don’t actually need an ocean to surf? In the Sahara Desert, the sandy dunes become the perfect waves to surf on your own sand/snow board or sand ski! Just pick one of the massive golden dunes around your sleeper camp and have fun! But remember – there are no ski lifts here, so it’s on you to walk back up the dune each time!

sand boarding in Merzouga

Sahara spa day: Top Things To Do In the Sahara Desert 2024

Who’d have thought one of the top things to do in the Sahara Desert would be to have a spa day? This is no average spa though!

Merzouga locals swear by burying themselves up to their necks in the Sahara sand because it’s said to be good for muscles and aching limbs.

In the heat of the summer, around the hottest point of mid-afternoon, you will find some locals burying themselves in the sand.

They claim it rids the body of illness and in particular arthritis. Bear in mind, in the summer, ground temperatures can reach well above 50°c so it’s not a comfortable place to be for any period.

Be warned though; do not bury yourself longer than 15 mins as it can cook you to death. Genuinely, we’ve heard of people this has happened to!

traveler walking in the sahara desert

Sitting around the campfire: Top Things To Do In the Sahara Desert Merzouga

It may surprise you but there is plenty of dead wood to collect in the Sahara. Dead bushes make great kindling too and will really get the fire going quickly.

Collect enough wood, build a fire pit, put your bbq grill over the glowing embers and get cooking! There’s nothing like it and you’ll never want to ping your ready-made meal in the microwave again!

It gets quite cold in the desert at night, especially during the winter months and a campfire is a great way to keep warm.

Top Tip: We’ve recently learnt that a shovel full of coals from the fire underneath your seat is a brilliant way to keep your bum warm!

Night view of a camp at the Sahara Desert in Morocco.

Wildlife spotting: Top Things To Do In the Sahara Desert 2024

After your campfire and evening meal, leave some leftovers near your camp and quietly wait to see if the local wildlife turn up for a midnight snack. 

Desert mice are most likely to appear first and if you’re lucky, a shy desert fox may come for a sniff. Try this over several nights and the fox will become braver and give you a good photo opportunity. If you’re really lucky, you may even spot one of the last Dorcas gazelles in Morocco.

They’re said to be extinct but we know they’re not.

Group of camels walking in sahara desert

Stargazing: one of the 10 Top Things To Do In the Sahara Desert Merzouga 2024

Of all the top things to do in the Sahara Desert in Morocco, this is my personal favourite as a Berber. With a million stars above you and no light pollution to speak of, the night sky over the Sahara Desert in Morocco will leave you in awe.

When I’ve been travelling on the road for months on end, finding my own sand dune after dark and gazing at the night sky is just what I need!

Camel caravan in the desert under the stars

Watch the sunset or sunrise: Top Things To Do In the Sahara Desert Morocco 2024

Walk up the dunes at sunset or better still, before dawn to watch the dramatic and beautiful changing color of the sand. Through the soundless peace and tranquility, the kaleidoscope of color will astound you and leave a life-long imprint on your memory.

Of all the best 10 things to do in the Merzouga Sahara Desert in Morocco, this experience will always, in some small way, beg you to return one day to this breathtaking landscape.

Sunsets and sunrises are beautiful in any corner of the world, but there’s something magical about the way the warm colors of the sky paint the golden dunes of the Sahara. Just like stargazing, it’s the deafening silence as the day begins or ends that sets the perfect atmosphere to enjoy the kaleidoscope of color that takes over the Sahara Desert.

sunset in the desert sahara

Ride a quad bike: Best 10 Things To Do In the Sahara Desert 2024

The Sahara Desert is one of the most idyllic places to wind down and enjoy nature at its finest, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun too! Rent your own quad bike and book a 1- or 2-hour trip with a guide to explore the sandy dunes. Activities could include visiting local villages, discover palm groves or simply enjoy the golden landscape zooming past you as you explore the Sahara Desert on four wheels.

ATV quads in Merzouga

The Magical Sahara Desert: Best things to do in Merzouga desert

The Sahara Desert sometimes seems like a mythical place. When you hear its name, it conjures up all these romantic and magical images in your head. I was particularly excited for my tour to deviate off our route to allow us a night out amongst the sand and the stars. No question that this is one of the best places to visit in Morocco, hands down.

As we passed the last major town of Merzouga, the landscape turned into a vast lifeless waste and I was actually hit with a small pang of anxiety at the thought of being stuck out there. Turning off the highway onto a sort-of-there dirt road, the wind picked up and we were glad we were inside the minivan. We eventually reached a small outpost, the giant sand dunes of the Sahara close by. From here we were to ride into the desert on camel-back for an hour, which I now know is too long for comfort.

Once we reached our camp for the night, by a small patch of grass the sun was beginning to set. Intent on making the most of the daylight, we kicked off our shoes and valiantly attempted to climb the nearby dune. Rather than be sensible and follow the ridge, we took the foolhardy approach of trying to directly stagger up the dune’s face. This took some time. Plus many, many stops. My companions reached the summit long before I did, but I used photo breaks to mask my exhaustion.

After dark we sat down for a meal and musical performance from our friendly minders. Post dinner, we chatted on the small cushions and carpets that made up the common area among the tents. After talk had died down, a few of us went for a wander out into the dunes, barefoot and torch-in-hand. Sadly the cloud cover meant there weren’t many stars to see, but still wandering around the desert at night was a once in a lifetime experience. All there was sand, wind and the occasional tree. While I may not be a particularly spiritual person, I definitely felt a sense of awe and calm in that moment.

Due to the proximity with the Algerian border and the tense diplomatic relations, lookouts were posted among the dunes and our wandering ended when we came across one of their torch signals. It was probably for the best as had we gone any further, we would have gotten lost in all likelihood and being lost in the Sahara is not something I’m keen to experience. But wandering barefoot around the dunes of the Sahara Desert, from a small camp of tents and carpets, after a camel ride from the edge of civilization – that was definitely something worth experiencing.

the desert, Merzouga, Morocco

WALKING ON THE DUNES: Best things to do in Merzouga desert 2024

Get ready! go walking on these golden dunes of Erg Chebbi. Let your feet feel the softness of the sea sand of the Sahara desert. Go deep and feel the quietness and tranquility. It is one of 10 best things to do in Merzouga desert in 2024.

rear view of woman exploring the sahara desert in sunny day, hiker in the wild.

EXCURSION AROUND THE DUNES BY 4X4: Best things to do in Merzouga desert 2024

Explore the isolated desert on a 4wheels vehicle, get to see fossils on the black rocky desert, Bedouin family living in a traditional nomad tent, visit Khamlia village for Gnawa music. Walk-in Hassi Labied Oasis palm groves.

RIDE A HORSE IN THE DESERT: Best things to do in Merzouga desert 2024/2025

Morocco’s Sahara Desert on a Horse and watch the sunset over the Erg Chebbi Dunes. This overnight tour offers spectacular views and a chance to experience the desert nomad lifestyle. This is one of the 10 best things to do in the Merzouga desert

Top Things To Do In the Sahara Desert

Plan your trip to Morocco: Best things to do in Merzouga desert 2024/2025
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