Opening Times
Mon-Thursday 9am-6pm
Friday 9am-5pm
Saturday 9am-2pm
Bank Holidays 10am-4pm

Monday, 8 August 2016 12:00 AM

How Far To The Moroccan Sahara

We get many enquiries about whether its possible to do a day or 2 day trip to the Sahara – look on a map and it looks like its fairly close – but the simple answer is no (see travel distances and, more relevantly, approximate travel times).

Lets expand on that simple answer.

Where Is The Moroccan Sahara ?

There is no sharp dividing line from lush to barren, rather a gradual change in scenery over 10s of kilometres as you drive south/south-west out away from the High Atlas Mountains (Marrakech being to the north of the High Atlas).

The true desert, the land with endless skies and photogenic sand dunes, exists in the extremities of Morocco such as M’Hamid and Merzouga where camel trekking and overnight stays in Berber camps are possible, although after you pass the nearer oases the landscape is barren and that of a rocky desert.

How Long To Get To The Desert ?

The first significant town you come across as you leave the mountain foothills is Ouarzazate. This is a rather unexceptional place but close to the much more exceptional Ait Ben Haddou, and it is in a region which you would definitely define as arid – rocky and greenery for most of the year is sparse, although goat and sheep are still herded throughout the year.

Ouarzazate is only 125 miles from Marrakech but it takes you through the breath-taking scenery over the High Atlas Mountains – with a good driver, fairly clear roads, good driving conditions and minimal stopping this will take around 4 hours (2 hours up to the Tiz’n’Ticka pass and 2 hours down).

If you've only had 4 hours travelling to here you probably haven’t made the most of the journey so far – Kasbah Telouet definitely worth a detour on route (a must stop in spring time with the almond blossom) – and you aren’t near the sandy desert yet.

If you have time we suggest staying in Ait Ben Haddou and having a day exploring that area or, if in more of a rush to get to the desert, perhaps to stay in Skoura (1 hour further) – although again a great pity to rush through there as some of our accommodation there cries out for a few days of peaceful reflection.

From Ouarzazate the roads are fairly flat and straight, but they pass through small towns and are single file each direction. It is around 4 hours’ drive on to to M’Hamid or from Skoura around 4 hours’ drive to Merzouga – simple addition tells us that’s around 9 hours’ driving from Marrakech, so with a few stops for sustenance and comfort, let alone stops to explore a little, that is too much for a day and a waste of wonderful places on route.

Make A Holiday Enjoyable

A holiday is normally designed to be fun, enjoyable and memorable for the right reasons, and Naturally Morocco is here to advice you.

The desert is an amazing place to visit, but you do need to take your time to make it enjoyable without feeling like you have missed something afterwards. Too many people have the wrong impression of distance, please let us help you and please don't insist that you want a 2 day trip to the desert from Marrakech, it's really not recommended.