Merzouga and Zagora are the most visited and famous two deserts in Morocco, most of the travellers get confused when they have to choose to visit one of them for some reason!
As local travel experts at Morocco Tours Agency, we aimed in this article to remove this fog and put you on the right path, so that everyone can make his trip to Morocco worth repeating 😊.
One of the most unforgettable experiences that you can live as a traveller who comes to Morocco is to take an excursion to the Sahara desert. Depending on the days you have available to make your trip to the desert, you may want to visit Zagora or Merzouga. From Marrakech there are mainly many customized excursions to visit the Sahara: the one that goes to the Zagora desert, and the one that goes to the Merzouga desert.
Two deserts that, although they are part of the same Sahara desert, are totally different from each other. Keep reading, because in this post we are going to tell you the peculiarities of each one so that you can choose the desert excursion that best suits you. If you already know which desert you want to go to, we recommend that you click on the following link where we can offer the best deals for the customized desert excursions from Marrakech.
When we think of Morocco, one of the images that crosses our mind is always that of an infinite desert of sand, tents and camels. Yes, cities like Marrakech and Fes will surely come to mind when you plan your trip to this wonderful country, but you will want to go to the desert. But to what part? which one is the best in Morocco? Which is closer? What am I doing there?
Silence is what you hear in your night illuminated by millions of stars. A deafening silence that can even frighten. The wind, if any, sneaks past you. There are no crickets that rub their ropes nearby. Neither cars. You hardly hear your breath and for a moment you wonder if it is a dream or is there really such a sepulchral absence of sound. No, you are alive. More alive than ever in the middle of the night in the desert.
Merzouga Camel Trekking (Erg Chebbi Dunes)
Visiting the desert from Marrakech is an adventure that you will remember a lifetime. There are many excursions from Marrakech, but without a doubt, the experience of visiting Zagora or Merzouga is above the rest.
Zagora or Merzouga: removing the confusion
There are many factors to weigh when choosing whether to end up going to Zagora or Merzouga. One of the main points to keep in mind is the time you are going to be. An excursion from Marrakech to Zagora is ideal if your idea is to take a short trip of 2 days and sleep 1 night in the desert. If you have one more day, it would be recommended that you opt for an excursion to Merzouga. The minimum number of days you must use to go to the Merzouga desert is 3 days and 2 nights. Normally one of the nights stays in the Atlas Mountains, and the other sleeps in a tent in the Merzouga desert. You should know that this desert is famous for its sand dunes: some reach 150 meters high! If you want to know more about the excursions, we recommend you see our with the best tours and excursions to the desert from Marrakech.
Note: Although the long-distance, a 2 days & 1-night tour to Merzouga desert from Marrakech is available.
How long it takes to reach Zagora and Merzouga from Marrakech or Fes?
Almost from anywhere you are in Morocco, the desert will catch you a little out of hand. Remember that both areas are in the southeast of Morocco (somewhat further north of Merzouga than Zagora). So a trip to either of these two places will take you almost a day between stops, late departures and other mishaps that may happen.
Zagora & Merzouga locations on the map
1- Marrakech to Zagora desert
The Zagora desert is located about 360 kilometers away from Marrakech and to get there you have to make a journey of about 6 hours by road. Although it may seem like quite a long time to get there, visiting this desert is perfect for a short 2-day-1-night desert getaway. The big difference with the other great desert in Morocco, Merzouga, is that Zagora is much more arid and rocky. But this does not detract from its charm, in fact it is one of the most visited deserts in Morocco.
From Fes to Zagora it is better that you do not even consider doing an excursion here, unless that if you are in private tour or you have your own car, you can take advantage of the trip and stop somewhere else for the first night.
It is quite different from the concept of the Moroccan desert that most of us have in our heads, but it is really beautiful and it is well worth visiting. In this desert you can do activities such as riding a camel at sunset and of course sleeping in a tent enjoying the night and the desert sky. If you want to know everything about how to spend the night in the desert, we recommend that you read this post about sleeping in the desert of Morocco.
Zagora desert Camel ride
Zagora is a rockier desert, although you will also find small dunes in it. It is a flatter desert.
2- Marrakech to Merzouga desert
The Merzouga desert is about 560 kilometers away from Marrakech, and it takes 9-10 hours to arrive by road. That is why the trip to this desert is usually done in 2 stages. This is the most popular desert in Morocco and the most visited by travelers who have a little more time to invest in this adventure. Taking an excursion to Merzouga implies using at least 3 days and 2 nights. As we mentioned above a tour of 2 days and 1night to Merzouga from Marrakech is possible although the long hours of driving.
Merzouga Sand dunes 😍
From Fes to Merzouga (Erg Chebbi) is about 460 kilometers and it takes 6-7 hours, however a 2 days / 1-night tour from Fes to Merzouga and 3 days / 2 nights desert tour are undoubtedly great Morocco tours from Fes to take if you are landing in this cultural city.
In this desert (Merzouga) you can enjoy large sand dunes of more than 150 meters: The Erg Chebbi sand dunes and watch the sunset while you ride a camel, Quad bike or even a Buggy through its dunes. If all this is not enough to make this excursion unforgettable, the camel ride will take you to the tent, where you can enjoy the starry sky of the desert. Seeing the Milky Way while lying on a sand dune is something you will never forget.
Where are the most impressive sand dunes?
Erg Chebbi is undoubtedly a spectacle of nature that you cannot find in Zagora. It is a mountain or sand erg with numerous high-altitude dunes that rise up to 150m, it spans an area of 28 kilometers from north to south and up to 5–7 kilometers from east to west. If you want to get tired going up to the ridge, this is your place.
Sunset over the Erg Chebbi dunes 😍
Huge dunes and movie landscapes are waiting for you in Merzouga.
But that does not mean that in Zagora you will not find dunes. There are, more modest. Zagora's landscape is a more stony desert, not so full of high dunes, a flatter desert, something to call it.
Zagora sand dunes
Conclusion: Merzouga or Zagora, Which desert is better?
You have already come this far and what you are wanting is for us to tell you whether to go to the Zagora desert or the Merzouga desert, right? Merzouga wins, mainly because it is the idea of desert that you have in your head. But Zagora is already a good option if you do not have much time and you are in Marrakech. So even though you would choose Merzouga.
We recommend the Merzouga desert, since it has the largest and most impressive dunes; while the Zagora region in Morocco is closer to Marrakech, but more rocky and arid.
If what worries you is the distance or if the trip will be a bit heavy, fear not. Although it is true that the distance from Marrakech to Zagora is less than the one to Merzouga, whichever desert you choose you will not have to worry because the vehicles that take you have all the comforts you may need for the trip.
Go to the desert that you go do not miss the opportunity to ride a camel and camping in desert. Do extra activities such as Quad bike, Buggy driving, Sandboarding and 4x4 excursions.
If you have doubts about your excursion to Zagora or Merzouga, we have made a selection of the best offers to make an excursion to the desert from Marrakech and Fes.
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