One of the reasons why Morocco is a famous touristic destination is the fact that it is a relatively tiny country but has so many experiences to offer. Deserts in Morocco are one of the most magical Moroccan attractions you can try.
In fact, if you are planning on visiting the country, deserts in Morocco are a real must. One of my friends told me this was one of the best travel experiences of his life. Watching the sun rising on top of a dune, walking in infinite looking sandy valleys, spending the night in oasis towns watching the sky full of stars: a magical and unforgettable moment.
List of Deserts in Morocco
So here is an overview of the most known and loved desert spots in Morocco. If you are a visual person like me, I will give you at the end of the article a Map with all cited desert spots so you memorize easier the different locations and distances. And if you want a wider picture of all the things Morocco has to offer, make sure you don’t miss my articles on the best places to visit in Morocco and the best things to do in Morocco.
Now, let’s give our eyes a treat with these gorgeous Moroccan desert spots.
Ouarzazate is one of the biggest towns in the south of Morocco. It is known for holding the Kasbah Taourirt, built in the 19th century and only held together by sand and straw. It is one of Morocco’s most impressive monuments.
Ouarzazate is only 4 hours’ drive from Marrakech and is a perfect starting point to explore deserts in Morocco. In fact, only a few hours drive separates the city from magical desert spots so make sure you add it to your map.
You can also split your stay between Ouarzazate and nearby villages to have a great overview of what the region has to offer. Two of the nearby villages are ‘’Ait Benhaddou’’ and ‘’The Oasis of Skoura’’’, which I will give you more details about below.
This is one of the closest villages to Ouarzazate with approximately half an hour car drive.
In Ait Benhaddou, you can visit the Atlas film studios where famous movies have been made, such as the Lawrence of Arabia, Gladiator or Alexander the Great.
Oh, and did you know that The Ksar (fortified settlement) of Ait Benhaddou is a UNESCO World Heritage site?
Now you know 😉
The oasis of Skoura
Another close village to Ouarzazate is the oasis of Skoura with less than one-hour car drive. Once there, you can visit the ruins of the magical Kasbah Amerhidil and explore the famous Dades Valley, the valley of the Roses, where the Rose Festival is celebrated every year in May.
The road from Ouarzazate is very impressive.
If you are coming from the north, M’Hamid desert would be the closest desert spot, with less than 5 hours drive from Ouarzazate. In fact, M’hamid is one of the two places in Morocco where Sahara begins (the other one being Merzouga). For this reason, it is the perfect place to explore if you are running short on time on your trip but want to see Moroccan desert anyway.
And that is not the only reason. M’Hamid desert is for sure one of the most authentic parts of Moroccan Sahara. If you want to have an authentic experience in an authentic Moroccan desert, that is inarguably the place to go.
Merzouga is a village in the Sahara Desert in Morocco, known for its impressive reddish gold Erg Chebbi, a 50km long and 5km wide set of sand dunes that rise to heights of around 160 meters.
Merzouga is very touristic and famous for its camel safaris, total immersion in the Berber lifestyle, and long and dreamy nights under the stars.
You can reach Zagora through the magical Draa valley, a string of palmiers starting from Ouarzazate for more than a hundred kilometers. As I mentioned earlier, Zagora in one of the two gateways to the Sahara (the other one being M’Hamid) where sunrises over the dunes and typical breakfasts in bivouacs are a must.
As promised, here is a map overview of all Moroccan desert spots we explored. I am working on better-looking maps so make sure you subscribe to the newsletter to receive a free and downloadable copy 😉