morocco camel safari; sahara desert to Marrakesh tour; camel trek

Erg Chebbi, Morocco’s Sahara

The highest dunescape in Morocco’s Sahara Desert, Erg Chebbi is the setting for our camel trek. We camp at the base of Erg Chebbi to witness the sunset colors.

Photo by Brian McGilloway

display information about this photo

Morocco: Camels to Casbahs

Fez, Marrakesh, Essaouira, and the Golden Dunes of the Sahara

Morocco: Camels to Casbahs route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $4895  
Length: 15 days
Arrive: Casablanca, Morocco
Depart: Marrakesh, Morocco
Lodging: 12 nights first-class hotels, 2 nights camping
Meals: All meals included except 1 lunch and 3 dinners
Activity: Hiking / Trekking, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level: 3-day camel trek with 3-6 hours hiking a day, altitudes between 4,000-6,000 feet, 4WD vehicle support
2p

Highlights

  • Roam the labyrinthine medinas of medieval Fez and Marrakesh
  • Ride a camel or hike (or jeep option) across the Sahara’s golden desertscape
  • Meet the blue-robed Tuaregs of the Moroccan Sahara
  • Enjoy encounters with the Berbers of the High Atlas Mountains
  • Explore tiny Essaouira, a walled city and artists’ haven by the sea
  • Taste tangy lamb and chicken tagine and delicious freshly caught fish


This was my first group “adventure travel” trip and it exceeded all my expectations. I could not have enjoyed so many aspects of Moroccan life and culture had I been traveling on my own.Catherine F.—Brooklyn, NY

Recent Photo Blog Posts

The Road to Morocco, Anne & Ian Gray

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.

References

We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

Departure Notes

Once you have signed up on the trip, we send a complete packing list, relevant health information, and required travel documents.

Fabled casbahs, medieval medinas, royal cities, golden dunes, red-rock canyons—Morocco has a mystique all its own and our journey perfectly captures its sensuous beauty. Our explorations provide a visual feast, from Fez, a walled city suspended in a medieval dream, to Essaouira, an 18th century gem set by the sea, and we enjoy day hikes, cultural encounters, and Berber hospitality. One highlight is our 3-day safari by camel or on foot across the Moroccan Sahara, ending amid the great sandscapes of the Erg Chebbi dunes. Our Trip Leader offers wonderful access into the local cultures, from the souks of Marrakesh to the canyons of the High Atlas, making this an incredible experience of Morocco.

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-2
Casablanca / Rabat

We meet in Casablanca, then head up the coast to sophisticated Rabat, the capital, to stroll through the picturesque Oudaya Kasbah.

Days 3-4
Volubilis / Moulay Idriss / Fez

After exploring the towering Roman ruins of Volubulis and striking hill town of Moulay Idriss, we enter magical Fez. Here we are immersed in a honeycomb of twisting alleys of Arabic-Moorish architecture with blue-tiled facades, savoring the scent of spices, orange blossoms, sizzling lamb kabobs, and sweet honey cakes.

Day 5
Middle Atlas Mountains / Sahara / Erfoud

Crossing the Atlas Mountains, we descend through an oasis of date palms to Erfoud, deep in the Sahara. Our overnight is in a stunning casbah-style hotel surrounded by open desert.

Days 6-8
Sahara Camel Safari

We set off into the silent world of the Moroccan Sahara, sensing the vastness, watching the changing colors, and stargazing under the brilliant night sky. Our jeep-supported Berber crew sets up our comfortable camps and prepares our meals, and we ride or walk each day (your choice). The desert journey ends at stunning Erg Chebbi, whose rolling dunes are endlessly shaped and reshaped by the wind.

Days 9-11
Todra / Dades / Ait Ben Haddou / Marrakesh

We cross the Todra and Dades Gorges amid limestone cliffs and lush fig orchards, then visit the famed mud-brick citadel of Ait Ben Haddou en route to Marrakesh.

Day 12
Essaouira

The charming seaside town of Essaouira is an artists’ haven of 18th century whitewashed houses with blue shutters. We explore the medina, artisan workshops, the fishermen’s market, and the tiny harbor where wooden fishing boats are still built the traditional way.

Days 13-15
Marrakesh

In the heart of Marrakesh is an 11th century medina and a central square replete with snake charmers, fire eaters, and fortune tellers. On foot and by horse-drawn carriage, we discover the city’s secrets. Depart on Day 15.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

What the Trip is Like

This trip is rated Level 2+, Moderate, according to our trip grading system. It combines overland travel and cultural exploration with a moderate three-day camel trek in the Sahara. It is expected that each participant be in excellent health and physical condition. We recommend that you make a special effort to get in shape for the trip. Daily walking or hiking, jogging, or stair-climbing are excellent for preparing for the trip. In addition, you should be prepared for three days of hardy outdoor living. Elevations on the trip range from 4,000 to 6,900 feet.

Camel Trek
On the camel trek, the footing is not difficult but it covers a variety of overland terrain with no trails. We travel mostly over hard-packed, rock-dotted desert and through dry, sandy riverbeds. At Erg Chebbi, we have several hours of sand-dune hiking, with ups and downs over the rolling dunes. Our camels are attached to one another in groups of three or four by a rope and led by a Tuareg cameleer. Most people alternately ride and walk, as camel riding can be uncomfortable for long periods. You are always free to hike instead of ride a camel, or skip a day’s hike and ride in the 4WD vehicles with our Berber crew.

Please note: Camels can be unpredictable animals.It is possible for the camel to stumble on rough terrain or make a sudden erratic movement. Since camels cannot be saddled as securely as horses, the possibility of a fall from any sudden or erratic movement is increased. It’s important to follow the instruction and guidance of your Trip Leader, and to stay alert while riding. Anyone participating in this optional activity must acknowledge the inherent risks in riding and perhaps falling from the saddle, and agree to accept responsibility. Alternative activities, such as hiking or riding in the support vehicles, are always available for those who want a break from riding or prefer not to ride at all.

Accommodations
For lodging, we enjoy first class hotels in the cities, with full-service camping on the camel trek and mountain lodges in the mountains. Transportation is by minibus and 4WD Land Cruiser. Bottled water is carried on board our vehicles at all times for your use.

For our vehicle-supported three-day camel trek, we use three-person mountain-style dome tents (not walk-in safari-style tents), used for just two people. In the morning, a basin of water is brought to your tent for freshening up before breakfast. We also have a toilet tent and a bathing tent (bucket-type bath) at each camp. We eat our meals in a dining tent set with table and chairs. Dinners often include soup, salad, a meat dish, vegetables, tea, coffee, and dessert, while lunches include bread with a selection of cheeses, cold cuts, and a variety of vegetable salads plus cookies and tea or coffee. Bottled water is provided at meals. It is not possible to do laundry while camping as there is not sufficient water available. We offer freshly laundered sleeping bags for rent, or you can bring your own.

Explanation of Trip Levels

 

Departures & Leaders

2014
Sep 20-Oct 4, 2014  Ali Ait Ichou
Oct 11-25, 2014  Mark Gordon
Nov 22-Dec 6, 2014  Mohamed Hjira
2015
Feb 28-Mar 14, 2015  Ali Ait Ichou
Mar 21-Apr 4, 2015  Mark Gordon
Apr 11-25, 2015  Mohamed Hjira
Sep 19-Oct 3, 2015
Oct 10-24, 2015
Nov 7-21, 2015
2016
Feb 27-Mar 12, 2016
Mar 19-Apr 2, 2016
Apr 9-23, 2016

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2014
$4895 (12-15 members)
$5195 (9-11 members)
$5495 (6-8 members)
Single supplement: $590
more on pricing

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Expert leadership of a Wilderness Travel Trip Leader and local guide
  • Accommodations
  • All meals included except 1 lunch and 3 dinners
  • Camel trekking staff
  • Group camping and cooking equipment including dining, sleeping and toilet tents, sleeping pads.

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare to Casablanca and from Marrakesh, any meals not specified after each itinerary day in the Full Trip Brochure, sleeping bag rated to 35°F (you can rent a sleeping bag, including sleeping sheet, for the camel trek), bottled water other than what is served at meals, airport departure taxes, optional tipping or gratuities to leaders or staff, additional hotel nights that may be necessary due to airline schedule changes or other factors, cost of medical immunizations (if any), travel insurance, and other expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.).

Trip Payment Schedule

At time of reservation: $500
120 days prior to departure: 20%
60 days prior to departure: Balance

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule

Minimum fee: None per person
46-90 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost

Sheraton Casablanca Hotel

Sheraton Casablanca Hotel

Day 1 (1 night), Casablanca, Morocco

A comfortable place to unwind after the long flight from the US, the Sheraton is an international-style hotel with well-kept rooms, a friendly bar ...
Click here for full description and more photos

Le Diwan Rabat

Le Diwan Rabat

Day 2 (1 night), Rabat, Morocco

Located in Rabat’s embassy district, this hotel is within walking distance of the atmospheric kasbah, medina, and Royal Palace. Here the ...
Click here for full description and more photos

Les Merinides

Les Merinides

Days 3 to 4 (2 nights), Fez, Morocco

The delight of this hotel is its view over the city of Fez, which you can enjoy from the terrace bar, listening to the call to prayer echo through ...
Click here for full description and more photos

Kasbah Xaluca

Kasbah Xaluca

Day 5 (1 night), Erfoud, Morocco

Surrounded by desert sands on the edge of the Moroccan Sahara, this newly built kasbah-style hotel is very atmospheric, with its numerous adobe ...
Click here for full description and more photos

Sahara Camps

Sahara Camps

Days 6 to 7 (2 nights), Sahara Desert, Morocco

We make hiking and camping in the Sahara Desert as comfortable as possible. On the trail, you are accompanied by our experienced Berber guides and ...
Click here for full description and more photos

Kasbah Hotel Tombouctou

Kasbah Hotel Tombouctou

Day 8 (1 night), Erg Chebbi, Morocco

Set in the dramatic landscape of the Erg Chebbi desert, the 72-room Kasbah Hotel Tombouctou offers comfort and style with its traditional ...
Click here for full description and more photos

Maison D'Hotes Kasbah Taborihte

Maison D'Hotes Kasbah Taborihte

Day 9 (1 night), Tinerhir, Morocco

Set on the edge of the beautiful Todra Gorge, this charming hotel features simple but clean rooms with comfortable beds and private bathrooms with ...
Click here for full description and more photos

Auberge Ait Oudinar

Auberge Ait Oudinar

Day 10 (1 night), Dades Gorge, Morocco

This small, family-run auberge is located on the serpentine mountain road that runs through the Dades Gorge. It has a cozy atmosphere, pleasant ...
Click here for full description and more photos

Hotel Es Saadi

Hotel Es Saadi

Day 11 (1 night),
Days 13 to 14 (2 nights), Marrakesh, Morocco

With a convenient location in the new section of the city, the Es Saadi is a 15-minute walk from the bustling medina. A five-story hotel built in ...
Click here for full description and more photos

Riad Al Medina

Riad Al Medina

Day 12 (1 night), Essaouria, Morocco

Right in the heart of Essaouira’s walled medina, this lovely riad has rooms built around a traditional open-air tiled courtyard. The rooms are ...
Click here for full description and more photos

Note: Listed above are our signature accommodations for this trip. Although it is highly unlikely, we may make substitutions when necessary.

Our Trip Leaders

Here are the Trip Leaders scheduled for this journey (please note that leader assignments are subject to change).

Ali Ait Ichou

Departure Dates: September 20-October 4, 2014, February 28-March 14, 2015

Ali Ait Ichou was born in the heart of Morocco’s High Atlas and spent his childhood  up in the high mountains of Berber country. Coming down to the modern side of  the Moroccan kingdom, he attended high school and university in Marrakesh, majoring in English at the University of ...
Click here for a full bio and list of all upcoming trips

Mark Gordon

Departure Dates: October 11-25, 2014, March 21-April 4, 2015

Mark Gordon is an American who fell in love with Morocco after serving in the country as a Peace Corps volunteer. He has lived in Marrakesh since 1982 and has led numerous expeditions and journeys for us throughout West and North Africa. He loves the “mythic dry sea” of the Sahara and ...
Click here for a full bio and list of all upcoming trips

Mohamed Hjira

Departure Dates: November 22-December 6, 2014, April 11-25, 2015

Mohamed Hjira was born in the classic Berber town of Azilal in Morocco’s High Atlas. His hometown, gateway to the Central High Atlas, was often visited by travelers because of its proximity to the spectacular Ouzoud Waterfalls, so during his childhood he met people from all around the world, ...
Click here for a full bio and list of all upcoming trips

Client Comments

This was my first group “adventure travel” trip and it exceeded all my expectations. I could not have enjoyed so many aspects of Moroccan life and culture had I been traveling on my own. Catherine F., Brooklyn, NY The experience was everything I had hoped for.The camping portion was excellent and the crew was top-notch. Larry M., Anchorage AK An amazing range of sites, landscape, activities: the desert trek was a really unique experience that I’ll remember always; the mountain landscape was gorgeous; visiting Essaouira gave us a taste of the coast; everything was well organized but allowed flexibility. Heather J., Washington, DC The Sahara camel trek/camping was definitely the highlight! Waking at sunrise at the dunes was a beautiful sight. Maria S., Yardley, PA This is the kind of trip that has you itching to return before it even ends. Laura B., Seattle, WA Morocco is a wonderful, exotic country. Everything was handled with care and professionalism. A first-class operation. Virginia W., Danville, CA This trip was well thought out with an itinerary that captures the spirit of the country. It was everything I had hoped for, and this trip had been on my list for years! Cindy B., St. Louis. MO Probably the best WT trip we've taken and they were all outstanding! Robert B., Oakland, CA It was extraordinary! Sharon L., Bellevue, WA The details of the itinerary, the schedule, and logistics could not have been better. Karl S., Arvada, CO We can depend on Wilderness Travel to offer exceptional trips andgreat attention to detail, and the quality of the Trip Leaders in unsurpassed. Joceln S., Arvada, CO I really liked the pace of the trip and the flawless planning. Mark, the Trip Leader, has fantastic rapport with the locals throughout the country. Dave S., Olympia, WA
The more the trip went on, the more I began to appreciate how well it was organized. It give us a great exposure to all the Morocco has to offer. Mark S., North Oaks, MN One of the best guided trips we have ever taken. Mark’s guiding skills are very good and his knowledge of Morocco’s culture is encyclopedic. Stephen M., Woodland, CA This was the most fascinating trip we have been on with WT. Mark was an excellent host. The Sahara, the gorges, and the mountains were my favorites, also the visit with the nomad family. Margaret J., Charlottesville, VA What a super country, what tremendous experiences had by all, and Mark made it all a blast from beginning to end. Thanks, Wilderness Travel, once again, for a wonderful trip. Laura B., Tucson, AZ A great blend of history, culture, scenery, and food. Dave C., Clackamas, OR I knew this trip would be great but it was BEYOND MY WILDEST DREAMS! What an exciting, exotic, beautiful, and diverse country. I loved the High Atlas Mountains, so exceptionally scenic, the cities, medinas, and the sights, sounds, and aromas. The people were very friendly and gracious. The Sahara is very interesting. Marrakesh is a happening, fun city and coastal Essaouira is pretty and peaceful. I loved it all! Jan J., Gilford, NH Mark and his team did a great job of introducing us to the amazing cultural, geographic, and historical diversity of Morocco. Kitty L., Chicago, IL Morocco was wonderful in so many ways and I'm sure my impressions were heightened by the flawless trip organization and leadership provided by your tour. Susan L., Cameron Park, CA A well designed trip. We saw a lot, traveled a lot, but the pace was just about perfect. We got to see so many different aspects of Moroccan life, in so many different settings. Well done. Darin P., Rye, NH

Recent Photo Blog Posts

The Road to Morocco, Anne & Ian Gray