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What actually happens on a desert tour from Marrakech?

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Philadelphia
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What actually happens on a desert tour from Marrakech?

We are considering hiring a private guide for a tour of the desert (one of those 4 night/3 day options). Has anyone done this and what are typical activities and experiences? We are trying to determine if it would be more fun just to stay in the city...

We will be there in Dec.

East Gwillimbury...
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1. Re: What actually happens on a desert tour from Marrakech?

What happens?

...in a nutshell...

You drive over the High Atlas, see mountains and kasbahs. See expansive palmeraies (hopefully) see the Draa Valley and the Mars-like, folded Anti-Atlas Mtns. Cross wide expanses of arid stone-desert with camels and goats running around. See the golden dunes of the Sahara.

(Hopefully) see and ride camels out onto the dunes and spend the night at a small "Berber" camp. Have dinner prepared and dine under the stars at camp.

Wake up for the sunrise and marvel at the richness of colour and stillness of the moment. Ride back to your starting point at the edge of the dunes and try to walk the pain out of your saddlesore rump. Return to Marrakech via (hopefully) a different route from whence you came. See other stuff along the way. LOTS to fill up 4 days/3nights. (A little rushed maybe?)

I'd rent a car and drive myself. You don't need to hire a driver for this if you can drive OK in the 'States. The roads are fine.

However: There's also lots in Marrakech, or a short drive away from it, to fill up 7 days too so it all depends on what your idea of "fun" is.

Cardiff, United...
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2. Re: What actually happens on a desert tour from Marrakech?

I have hired a private driver and done the "desert tour". I think it is better to do it this way (rather than a group tour) because you are incharge of your own situation, if you want to stop or get off to look at the views, you can do it without anyone else complaining.

We booked our accommodation as we went along, this gave us much more freedom as we could look at the accommodation, haggle the price and if we were not happy we could move on and look at other accommodation, this way you get a nice B+B/hotel at a price you are happy with.

Expect to pay around 180 US Dollars per day for a private driver with a 7 seater type vehicle. That is a total cost and can be split by the number of people travelling. You can get accommodation from 20-50 US Dollars per night and the whole "Desert Experience" should cost between 30-65 US Dollars (this will include camel rides, dinner, nights stay in the tent and breakfast). The driver I always use in Morocco is very good (speaks fluent English), if you want his contact details then feel free to send me a message.

Stockholm, Sweden
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3. Re: What actually happens on a desert tour from Marrakech?

Which terrific description, spmm!

I would add that it is not only the sand dunes there, it's also a real lake to see, mineral mines that are interesting to visit, old abandoned French village since colonial times, one can travel around sand dunes and experience the nomadic life and so on.

And I recommend also to rent a car and drive self, it is easy to drive. And you are flexible.

Edited: 02 October 2012, 11:35
Stockholm, Sweden
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4. Re: What actually happens on a desert tour from Marrakech?

MIB, now I remember one thing and wish to ask you how it was when you used private driver and guide. What was included in theirs price?

I heard one story about one guide and driver. They both got paid from theirs clients and in the price was included also the fee for theirs food and overnight In the accommodation during the travel.

The clients chose self theirs accommodation and paid separately to that accommodation theirs usual price. I mean in that price was not included the food and overnight for the guide and driver. The guide and driver would therefore pay self. But they did not that, ate and stayed overnight for free.

I find it a bit strange, heard even that driver and guide behaved there as if they were in their own homes. The accommodation had so much more work without to get paid for that. It was not honest and good done from driver and guide.

How did you?

Edited: 02 October 2012, 12:59
Cardiff, United...
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5. Re: What actually happens on a desert tour from Marrakech?

The driver we use charges a fixed daily rate when on tour, i.e. 130 Euros per day. You pay nothing else to him on top (unless you want to tip him at the end of the tour, that is your choice).

He organises his own food, accommodation, fuel, tolls, parking charges etc, etc.

There are many good professional drivers in Marrakech but then there also some really bad ones, that is why I make a point of recommending this driver, he can speak fluent English and he drives at a safe speed (and no commission stops).

Stockholm, Sweden
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6. Re: What actually happens on a desert tour from Marrakech?

It sounds better than that in my story.

Washington, DC
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7. Re: What actually happens on a desert tour from Marrakech?

It's amazing and well worth it. The ride into the desert on the camel alone is worth it.

My advice after doing a small group tour in one of those seven seat vans is to rent a car and do it on your own. You pay a lot for what is basically a driver only (not really a tour guide) who steers you to his hotel, his Berber guides in the desert, his restaurants on the road, etc.

Rent your own car, the drive is beautiful and easy (although very curvy and very high up in the air), with very well paved roads with not much traffic. You can stop when you want, research your own hotels and eateries and stopping points along the way, and then, when you get to the desert, hook up with a tour operation there to go into the dunes and do the Berber tent thing.

Also, if you're going to splurge, do it at the desert, the moderately priced or cheaper options have really crappy beds in those tents, don't expect to sleep well if at all. Spend the $ for the luxury tents in the desert. Skimp and save on the hotel on the way there or back.

Cape Town Central...
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8. Re: What actually happens on a desert tour from Marrakech?

A desert tour from Marrakesh is not what really comes to the mind when you think about it. No hot sun, no Laurence of Arabia no Touaregs on tall camels, It is more about the experience with the guide and the driver, talking and chatting along the way, Take pictures and enjoy being away from home... Yes!!! ride camels and make sure to bring some souvenires [e.g sand from the Sahara in a plastic bag].

Stockholm, Sweden
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9. Re: What actually happens on a desert tour from Marrakech?

My words, Wolf, with the exception of luxury tent in the desert :)They maybe are comfortable but not suitable in the desert. And one two days without really toilet and bathroom is possible to survive, it is experience too, to feel how it is how can it be to live in the desert.

Cardiff, United...
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10. Re: What actually happens on a desert tour from Marrakech?

Luxury tents in the Desert will spoil some of the experience in my view, part of the experience is living like the nomads do (and I dont think they have luxury tents).

You can get by without beds for one night, a mattress on the floor is enough.

Toilets on the other hand are a necessity, yes you can get by without one, but it will help you if your camp has them.