I’d been wanting to go to the desert since arriving in Marrakech, so my friend Alex and I decided to take a little road trip from Marrakech to the Merzouga desert, which is about an 11-hour drive. The drive itself is incredibly scenic as you go through amazing mountain ranges, nomadic Berber villages, and dramatic desert landscape!
The first day we drove about 5 hours to check out the ancient village of Ait Benhaddou, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, AND where they filmed Game of Thrones (I’m a big fan). This village feels as if you are stepping back in time, with it’s simple clay architecture and stunning desert surroundings. Since this is a protected site, no one lives in the village, and only a few merchants are allowed to set up shop there. It’s truly special and amazing to see! Since we still had another 6 hours or so until the desert, we decided to stay in a riad close to Ait Benhaddou for the night. We stayed in a riad called Riad Tamdakhte Guest House, which was great and the owner was so friendly! This is a great halfway point to stay if you are making the journey.
The next morning we set out to Merzouga, leaving around 9:30 am and arriving to the desert around 3:30 pm. We met our guide from Morocco Exotic Adventures at a hotel, ate breakfast, and then set out for the desert on a camel! This was my first time on a camel, so a pretty fun (and funny) experience. About an hour later and we arrived at our camp just in time for the sunset, my favorite time of day. That evening we were served a delicious meal and got to listen to some traditional Berber music, and even got to try out the drums for ourselves which was so much fun! We woke early the next morning to catch a fantastic sunrise over the dunes, which was so beautiful and peaceful. Then, back on the camels to head back.
We decided to drive straight from Merzouga back to Marrakech in one day, which I wouldn’t recommend. It’s long and the roads are tough – a lot of them very steep and twisty mountain roads. If I did it again, I’d stay in the village of Dades for one night on the way back, which is supposed to be really pretty. Also, don’t do this trip without an SUV and proper GPS! We found our way but at times it was a little dicey on some of the back roads. All in all, an amazing trip that I hope to do again at some point, and stay in the desert a little longer.