If you visit Morocco without spending a night in the Sahara desert, it’s like visiting Rome without seeing the Colosseum, or traveling to South Africa and not going on a safari. Glamping Morocco is an incredible, possibly once-in-a-lifetime experience that absolutely should not be missed and very well might be the highlight of your trip. (Thanks to Desert Luxury Camp–the greatest luxury camping in Morocco–it definitely was mine!) Before I get into all the why’s and how’s, watch this video I’ve created during my time in Morocco and at Desert Luxury Camp to see the beauty for yourself.
While there are many desert camping/glamping experiences offered in Morocco, the best camps are located in the region of Merzouga near the Algerian border, within the powder soft, burnt orange sand dunes of Erg Chebbi. Deep in the dunes of Erg Chebbi lies Berber desert camps of kinds; from bare-bones and basic, to the ultra-luxurious. (Berbers are the indigenous people of North Africa who are known for their nomadic lifestyle.) There is only one camp however, that combines luxury, 5-star services with an authentic Berber experience, and that is Desert Luxury Camp. Before my trip to Morocco, I spent hours researching luxury desert glamping in search of the best camp. Not only did I find that Desert Luxury Camp is the highest rated camp and an award winning accommodation, but there are several aspects that make it a stand out experience. More on that in a little bit.
Getting to Desert Luxury Camp – Sahara Desert Tours from Marrakech, Fes, and More
Desert Luxury Camp offer several tour and transportation options to fit your personal itinerary. The most common way to get to Erg Chebbi dune camps, in general, is via a 3 night Marrakech to Fes desert tour, provided by the camp. The drive between Marrakech and Erg Chebbi can take up to 10 hours, and crosses over the aw-inspiring Atlas Mountains. To break up the journey, a night or two can be spent in nice hotels along the way. After glamping or camping in the Sahara, the guides can drive you to your next destination, which for many is Fes ( but you can also do the trip in reverse, or drive to another city of your choice.)
For those that prefer to fly from Marrakech, the closest airport to the Merzouga desert is Errachidia, which is about a 2 hour drive from Desert Luxury Camp. Direct flights from Marrakech to Errachidia can be limited in availability, so it may require a stopover in Casablanca. The flight from Marrakech to Casablanca is about 30 minutes and to Errachidia is about another hour and a half. This might be a good time to spend a night in Casablanca to explore this beautiful coastal region, or take a day trip to Essaouria, the most popular beach town in Morocco.
Once you arrive at Errachidia airport near the desert, you can either take a taxi to the gate of Merzouga (cheaper option, around 1000 Dhs or $100 USD) where the camp guide will pick you up for a transfer in a 4×4, or arrange for the guide to pick you up at the airport (more expensive option – 1800 Dhs, or $180 USD.) If you’d like to do the drive yourself (can be tricky!) you can arrange for a 4×4 rental to be waiting for you at the airport through Avis or EuropCar. (4-wheel drive vehicles are necessary to drive in the desert.) Since no 4×4 cars were available at the time of my travels, we picked up a standard vehicle at the airport through Europcar so that we could road trip to Fes after camping. Since we couldn’t drive this car in the sand dunes, our camp guide came and met us, showed us where to safely park the car, and drove us the rest of the way to the camp site.
Camel Trekking Morocco
During the cooler months, you may also have the option to camel trek to the camp once you get to the Merzouga desert. Since we were visiting in July however, when temperatures are at the highest, our camel trekking was offered during sunset and sunrise when it is much cooler. Our sunset camel trek through the gorgeous undulating sand dunes was one of the most memorable experiences from our trip.
Note about riding camels: If you are a regular reader of my blog or follow me on social media, then you probably already know my opinion on the cruel practices of animal tourism, particularly around riding elephants in Southeast Asia. Riding camels in my opinion however is NOT the same as riding elephants. Similarly to riding horses, as long as the camels are treated well and looked after, riding them is, in my opinion, not inhumane. Camels thrive as working animals, and their backs are equipped to withhold weight, on average up to 330 lbs. A bored camel = an angry camel! Many camels in Morocco are actually very well-treated thanks to organizations such as SPANA whose mission is to help the welfare of working animals. If ever you have doubts about what is and isn’t animal cruelty, I encourage you to do your own research and make your own informed choices. More tips on ethical animal tourism from SPANA can be found here.
While camel trekking, sand boarding, and ATVing are all standard activities found at most camps, you will be glad to find that the camel trekking at Desert Luxury Camp is led by real, authentic berbers who grew up in these dunes and know the desert like the back of their hand. This, along with a few other reasons are why Desert Luxury Camp stands out among the rest. The following factors are why I chose Desert Luxury Camp for my glamping experience.
Related: 10 Day Morocco Itinerary
5 reasons Why Desert Luxury Camp is the Best Luxury Camping in Morocco
5. It is truly remote.
When traveling through the Sahara, you might notice that other luxury camps are in close proximity to one another. Desert Luxury Camp on the other hand is extremely isolated and perfectly situated within the sand dunes with no other camp grounds around. For an even more private experience, you can book the Royal Camp where no other Desert Luxury Camp guests are present.
4. They have air conditioning.
Many desert campers will tell you that often the hardest part of camping is getting good rest because of how hot it can get. Unlike many other camps in the Sahara, the tents at Desert Luxury Camp are air conditioned so you’ll be sure to get a comfortable night’s sleep. The camp’s restaurant is also air conditioned which makes dining in the desert that much more enjoyable.
3. They are open year-round.
The summer months in Morocco are considered high season as many travelers visit during their summer vacations. Spending a night in the Sahara is a MUST when visiting, but temperatures in the desert reach over 100 degrees during this time and because of this, many camps close during the months of July and August because it’s just too hot. Desert Luxury Camp is one of the few camps to stay open because they ensure your stay will be as comfortable as possible by providing a pool and other ways to keep cool. You won’t need to miss out on this incredible experience by visiting in the summer.
2. They provide a true “glamping” Morocco experience with spacious and luxurious rooms, and top-notch hospitality.
Many other camps may claim they provide a luxury or “glamping” experience but do not even have a/c, running water, or other luxury amenities. At Desert Luxury Camp, each canvas tented room has all the modern luxuries of a hotel room. A king-sized bed, an attached bathroom with a running toilet/sink, a shower with hot and cold water, toiletries, and luxurious moroccan furniture and decor that will have you camping in both luxury and comfort.
The camp staff also offer impeccable service, whether you have the opportunity to have them guide you over a multi-day tour to and from the desert, or have them tend to your every need to ensure you have the most comfortable and memorable stay at camp, each member is so lovely and helpful. Even before the trip, the camp concierge was extremely helpful and available via email, answering any questions I had about the camp or itinerary logistics. They will help you build a customized itinerary to and from anywhere in Morocco, answer any questions you have about hotels/car rentals in other cities, and accommodate any special requests.
As part of your stay, meals are also included and served in a large, air conditioned restaurant tent. At Desert Luxury Camp you will have the opportunity to enjoy a beautiful 4 course dinner and breakfast buffet complete with traditional Berber food. *Tip* The camp doesn’t serve alcohol but you are welcome to BYOB so don’t forget to pick up a bottle of wine from the airport to bring with you. After dinner, you will sit around a camp fire and enjoy live music from a Berber band.
1. They have a swimming pool!
I saved the best for last and the #1 reason why I love and would recommend Desert Luxury Camp over the rest. They have a swimming pool!! And it’s not just a lackluster, above-ground makeshift pool. It is a large, in-ground, spa-like pool completely enclosed by a tent to protect from sand, sun, and other elements of the desert. At the time of publishing this post, Desert Luxury Camp is the ONLY camp that has a swimming pool. Trust me, in the desert heat, you’re going to LOVE cooling off in the shaded, refreshingly cool water.
What you need to know before you go:
- While traveling Morocco, you may find tours that offer desert camping just 30 minutes away from Marrakech, however you’ll be sold short of the experiencing the magnificent sand dunes, which are found much deeper within the Sahara. The Erg Chebbi Dunes where Desert Luxury Camp resides is the best spot in the Sahara for its unparalleled beauty.
- Many tour operators run tours from Fez, Marrakech, and other popular cities and will provide transportation to and from these destinations in an inclusive tour package. Usually, these tours take at least 2 days to even arrive at the desert, stopping along the way in various towns and staying overnight at hotels. Sometimes tour operators and desert camps run independently from one another meaning the tour operator will pick different desert camps to stay in based on availability, so if you are going this route it’s important to double-check to know exactly which camp you’ll be staying in. I like that Desert Luxury Camp offer the multi-day tour and camp option all from the same source, so you know exactly what you’re getting.
- It is recommended to book your desert camp experience in advance, especially if you are taking a tour. While it is true that you would probably be able to negotiate a better deal in the Morocco medinas or at the gates of the Merzouga desert, you won’t quite know exactly which desert camp you’ll be taken to. If quality and comfort are important to you, book well in advance.
- While the desert is hot year-round, if visiting in the winter months the temperature can drop significantly in the evenings. Be sure to pack a sweater for the night. For the daytime, you will also want to pack a scarf to wrap around your head/face to protect from the sun/sand, light-colored and lightweight long sleeve shirt and pants, sunscreen, and sunglasses.
- Be careful of other knock-off camps with similar names to Desert Luxury Camp. This is the only Desert Luxury Camp and they are not affiliated with any other camps.
Glamping in the Sahara Desert is one of the best experiences you can have, and there is no better camp to do it with than with Desert Luxury Camp. As you cruise through the sand dunes by camel, quad, or foot you will be left astonished by the vastness and tranquility of the desert. As the sun sets over the dunes and the darkness of the night takes over, completely free from light pollution you will have the best view of the Milky Way while shooting star after shooting star glide past you. At Desert Luxury Camp you will enjoy these incredible experiences of the desert while being met with the utmost comfort and luxury. I cannot recommend Desert Luxury Camp more for your Morocco glamping trip, and hope you will be able to see for yourself why they are the best camp in the desert. Ready to book? Click here.