If you didn’t have traveling into the Sahara Desert with kids on your bucket list, you should reconsider. We just got back from our first amazing adventure into the Sahara and our kids absolutely loved every minute! With the freedom to roam and explore uncharted land, they were humbled by the joy of being so remote. The air was warm and dry, and the sunsets are spectacular. Stars appeared bigger and brighter, and the night sky was filled with constellations.
Is it safe to take kids to the Sahara Desert?
In our experience, everything about the Sahara Desert was very safe for kids and families. Not only did we feel safe, but we felt as a part of the desert family very quickly. Everyone showed us first-class hospitality and won us over with their special attention to the children. The people are so warm and family-oriented as a culture that it was easy to feel comfortable. We were always greeted with kindness and offered food and drink wherever we visited. We walked around the towns freely and often asked for directions and suggestions with no feelings of reservation.
@mrsblinks Replying to @jacattack801 it was such an amazing experience! #22adventuresin2022 #tiktoktravel #familytravel #saharaofmorocco🇲🇦 ♬ Paper Birds (3 min) – Jordan Halpern Schwartz
Arriving to the Sahara
After staying overnight in Ouarzazate, a quaint town on the way to the Sahara from Marrakech, we drove into Mourzouga. Getting there was a bit of an adventure. By car, it’s about 5.5 hours from Ouarzazate. Our drive was absolutely incredible, as we passed through villages and small cities surrounded by vast plains of sand. As we made pitstops along the way we were always greeted with open arms and offered some of the local fare and access to their facilities.
One of our favorite memories, was a stop we made at a little roadside hut no bigger than our car. The owner was so welcoming and offered us to sit and stay for a home cooked meal. We sat with the locals and enjoyed a great lunch and were offered some fresh picked fruit from another table. It was so nice to feel so welcomed and even better to experience life like we were one of their own.
The total drive from Marrakech is about 9 hours on the N9, so it is suggested to break that up. You can also travel from Casablanca about 13 hours on the N13, also a trip needed to been done in 2 legs. We’ll never forget the last leg of our drive, as we passed through the outskirts of the barren desert and over rocks in our compact rental car. There were moments we all sort of questioned our decision, but the sense of adventure quickly squashed the doubt. That journey was exhilarating and scary all at the same time!
There are a few other ways to get to the Sahara Desert:
- Helicopter Ride + Overnight in Desert
- Marrakech to Desert + 3 Day Stay
- Tours to Fes with stop in Desert
- Hot Air Balloon Ride from Marrakech
Places to Stay in the Sahara Desert
Most people come to see the desert on day trips as it can seem intimidating to stay longer, but it is totally able to be done on your own. While a day trip would be a great option to experience the essence of the Sahara, it just wouldn’t be the same as spending the night. Our family was so moved by staying the nights in the desert, that we couldn’t imagine the trip without. Though we stayed 2 nights, you could certainly stay just one and experience all we did. There are lots of camps available.
Most travelers use Mourzouga as a last stop to prepare and rest before entering the Sahara. Mourzouga is a small town right at the edge of desert known as a gateway to Erg Chebbi. Erg Chebbi or “sea of dunes” is one of Morocco’s many ergs (large seas of dunes formed by wind-blown sand). This is such a charming little town with lots of great people, nice Riads and small shops.
I can remember how happy we were to see Mourzouga after our long drive! We actually pulled up to the wrong Riad, but the locals were so nice that they offered us in and gave us water while we located the right one. One of the locals actually overheard us looking for Mamouche, so they personal showed us the way and connected us with the guide for our stay. Really helpful!!
Riad Mamouche is a traditional guesthouse that was recommended by Mohammed and the Sunrise Sahara team. It’s suggested to stay here on the day you check into camp and it’s available on any days for the duration of our trip. Be sure to choose a meeting place that you do not need GPS for, as it is very weak once in Mourzouga. Also, you do not need a vehicle once at Mamouche so you can leave it there for the duration of your stay.
Riad Mamouche was a unique and beautiful place to spend the day, while retreating from the inner desert. The desert at camp gets to extremely high temperatures and can be very uncomfortable to the height of the sun. The Riad is decorated with traditional Moroccan-style décor, their staff was great, and the food was delicious. Mamouche has a splendid swimming pool, a stunning garden, and even a hammam spa. Cool off by the pool, order food and drinks, and even stay the night before heading out for your drive (or camel ride) to the base camps.
@mrsblinks One of the most exhausting and exhilarating days of my life ✨🐪 #22adventuresin2022 #tiktoktravel #familytravel ♬ Paper Birds (3 min) – Jordan Halpern Schwartz
Sunrise Sahara Camp was one of our favorite family experiences to date. Think of it as the best camping trip you’ve ever had, only in the middle of the desert sand with little to no noise and zero ambient light. Sounds crazy I know, but trust me it is life-changing. Just one night at the camp without distractions from the outside world will clear your mind. Several nights will have you questioning if you need anything else in life, but to stay there in peace.
We arrived late in the day by camel, as the sun fell over the desert and drew out some of its most spectacular views. As we approached the Sunrise Sahara camp, we saw the glow of the camp lights (run by solar and generators) and could smell the food being prepared for us. It was an epic approach and a welcome like we’ve never had before. Mohamed and his staff really go above and beyond to create a magical experience for their guests!
What you need to Know about Camp
A perfect blend of comfort and peace, Sunrise Sahara Camp is perfect for families. Offering traditional Moroccan decor, excellent food, and outstanding hospitality. Its remote location makes it a great hideout for stargazing, and the dunes are perfect for watching the sunrise or rolling down the hills. Their haimas were unlike any tents at the other camps in the Sahara. Custom made domes that presented like luxury space bubbles in a remote world. Really something you must see in person to appreciate.
Each morning after sunrise, you’re served a traditional breakfast spread with great breads, cheeses, and coffee. You can choose anywhere in the camp to have your breakfast, in the dining tent, on the dunes, or right to your own haimas. While the greatest experience is in the evenings and early morning sunrises, there are other activities during the day for their guests. For adventure lovers, Sunrise Sahara offers great tours of the desert, visits with Berber families, sand boarding, and ATV/ side-by-side tours. We enjoyed every single one of them and would do them all again!
What to do while in the Sahara Desert
One of the highlights of our journey was taking a family camel ride. Included in our stay at Sunrise Sahara, we were accompanied by a local guide into the desert for an unforgettable experience. Winding through the open desert, across dune after dune, and taking in the brevity of the moment. Riding into camp as the sun set over the horizon was truly magical.
While the camel ride experience is amazing, there are also some things that we wish we knew going into the ride. Getting onto the camels is not easy, especially for children and shorter adults. The ride can be a bit uncomfortable, so be sure to wear comfortable and breathable clothing that cover your legs.
Be sure to bring scarves and hats for shade and keep extra water for them in your pack. You’ll also find it helpful to carry some snacks, as the ride can be lengthy (nothing too dry, as your mouth will already be parched). Camel rides to Sunrise camp are about an hour and a half, but you do stop for some better views and photo opportunities along the way. Also, its nice to bring cash to tip your guides and purchase any of their homemade wares at the end of the journey.
@mrsblinks Next time I’m bringing a backpack full of water 💦 #22adventuresin2022 #tiktoktravel #familytravel #saharaofmorocco🇲🇦 ♬ Paper Birds (3 min) – Jordan Halpern Schwartz
Spending a Night at Camp
Our nights in the Sahara Camp were our most memorable experiences of all. Dinner is reason alone to journey all the way into the desert to camp. The fragrant and delicious tagines, succulent kebabs, and flavorful couscous were worth every effort of the taxing drive, the long camel rides, and the daytime desert heat. Such a fun bonding experience with your family and the guides after a thrilling adventure.
What we were not aware of before spending the night:
- Though the air is cool, the tents can get very hot at night
- There is no air conditioning, but fans are helpful to move the air
- Sleeping outside is a great option if you are comfortable
- The water in the shower is always on the hot side, as it comes from the dunes
- Showering before bed and staying wet helps cool you off
There’s plenty to eat for everyone, as they continue to bring out more of everything you’re enjoying. The kids seemed to enjoy eating more breads, jams, and lots of their delicious baked treats. Moubarak, one of our hosts was absolutely great with the kids! He was an amazing guide and made our trip feel like we were a part of his Berber family. We were definitely sad to leave.
Berber Music by the Campfire
Nights at camp are spent sipping on hot mint tea (yes hot, but it makes sense when you’re there) and watching the horizon as stars twinkled in the sky. After dinner you can enjoy a joyous welcome party around a campfire, where the locals play music and everyone sings and dances together.
The kids played traditional Moroccan instruments and we enjoyed our new friends Mohamed, Mouborak, and the other guests into the late evening. It was incredibly humbling to be surrounded by such great company and feel at home somewhere so far away from our own. We will forever remember our time there in the desert with our new friends.
@mrsblinks What an incredible experience ✨ leave your questions and I’ll answer them in my next video #22adventuresin2022 #tiktoktravel #familytravel ♬ Paper Birds (3 min) – Jordan Halpern Schwartz
Desert Off-Roading Fun
A thrilling roller coaster-like ride through some of the most challenging terrains is also a great way to explore the desert. Guides will pick you up in an all-terrain vehicle from the camp and take you on an amazing off-roading adventure. You’ll explore the breathtaking landscapes of the dunes, dry river beds, and oases. And if you’re lucky, you might even spot some of their unique wildlife too.
Pro Tip: Try to stay on course and do not stop for too long when sand boarding or exploring. The sun goes down very quick in the desert and driving at night can be pretty scary. We know this from experience and would be sure to get back before dark next trip.
@mrsblinks Dune buggies + night + desert 😅 do NOT recommend #22adventuresin2022 #familytravel ♬ Paper Birds (3 min) – Jordan Halpern Schwartz
Where to Eat in the Sahara Desert
When you think of a desert, you probably don’t imagine many places to eat along the way. There are, however, some real gems along the outskirts of the Sahara that offer some delicious food.
Lunch at Café Nora
Café Nora is one of the best spots in the desert. If the kids get tired of the shish and tagines, they’ll really love it here. Berber pizza and garden salad were two of our favorites. Quiet and cozy ambiance and super friendly staff made us feel very welcome here. Stopping at Cafe Nora is part of the desert tour, which we highly recommend. Just the time visiting with the Berber families and the stop at Cafe Nora was worth every penny.
Things you must See while in the Desert
Witness a Soul-Nourishing Sunrise
When the sun rises over the Sahara, it’s simply breathtaking. The shades of yellow and orange spread across the horizon to create a surreal landscape that will leave you in awe. We were lucky enough to witness the most beautiful sunrises over the dunes. Be sure to reach your spot to watch the sunrise at least twenty minutes before to get the best view of this magical event.
While waiting for the sunrise you will need a light jacket or a blanket, as it can be quite chilly first thing in the morning. What’s most fun about the cool sand is that the kids can play in it in the mornings, unlike during the day. There’s something different about the Sahara desert sand, as it’s almost like playing in water without getting wet.
Enjoy a cup of local coffee (it’s very strong!) with some hearty breakfast in one of the gazebos. Maybe just take a moment to observe the beauty of this unique and pristine place from your haimas windows, it’s amazing. However you enjoy it, be ready to feel a cleansing of the soul and a calming like no other.
See the Black Desert
Sunrise Sahara Camp is located in the Black Desert, very close to the Algerian border. Reason for its name is that there are a lot of volcanic rocks in the area, therefore creating more of a blacktop sand. There are scattered acacia trees and said to be many fossils amidst the landscape. Black Desert is certainly something to behold.
New Born Camels
Whether you’re taking the desert tour or just exploring on your own in Mourzouga, you must stop by one of the camel farms. While it’s nice to see all of the camels, it’s especially cool to see a baby one. Young camels are called calves, they are fluffy and very adorable. Maybe if you’re lucky you will get to see one being born, as they can stand in the first hour after birth.
Safsaf Oasis is a secluded and very peaceful place deep in the desert near the Algerian border. Fully surrounded by wild palm trees and higher hills, Safsaf Oasis is a gorgeous must-see destination in the Sahara Desert. It’s a natural water source fed by the Safsaf river, used for drinking water and growing crops by the Berber nomads. Such an amazing sight to see an oasis first hand and even more so to see the people living off of the land there.
Some more things you have to see:
- Seeing (and eating) dates in the trees
- Watching families filter water from the dune wells
- Views from the top of the highest dunes
- Berber Nomad families and their villages
- Costumes of the traditional Khamalia tribe
Know this before you go into the Desert
The sand storms that hit the desert are not to be taken lightly. It’s best to stay in your car with all windows rolled up until it passes. When you’re out walking around, you can only wrap your face with your scarf and hold on tight. Just be aware that these happen.
Bring lots of extra water or coconut water if you plan to spend the entire day in the Sahara. You don’t want to be stuck without water in the scorching heat, as you will be extra thirsty all the time. Acclimating to the dryness of the desert is very difficult, especially the first 24 hours, so come prepared.
Sunscreen and Chapstick
Of course, sunscreen and chapstick are essential to protect you from the desert sun. Even without sweating, you can get very burnt quickly and your lips chapped to no return. Hydrating yourself often helps with this too, as well as staying covered.
Choosing a great Camp
Overall, visiting the Sahara was an unforgettable experience for us. Much due to the exceptional hospitality and beauty of the Sunrise Sahara Camp. So if you’re looking for an amazing family-friendly adventure like no other, be sure to book something comparable.
- Larger rooms
- Private Bathrooms
- Accepting of kids
- Extra Beds
- family accommodations
We are always here if you want some insight or have any questions before booking.
On our trip out of the Sahara Desert headed to the city of Fes, we had lots of stressful moments. First off, there is only a single one lane road in below average condition for the entire 8 hour drive. Both lanes with heavy traffic, including mopeds, large trucks carrying oversized loads, and even the occasional horse drawn carriage. Needless to say, the drive was long and very frustrating at times.
We were pulled over twice on our drive by government vehicles for minor traffic violations (passing in unauthorized area and speeding through a roundabout). Luckily, we were able to settle the fines with small change in Euro, instead of the full fine in dirham. After some negotiation and testimony, we were able to go on our way. Bottom line, drive very cautiously and be sure to carry small change in Euro when driving in Morrocco.
Really hope that you enjoyed a glimpse into this awesome experience our family had in the Sahara Desert. We do hope that you get a chance to experience the wonders of the Sahara with yours someday!
If you enjoyed this Family Travel Guide on visiting the Sahara Desert with Kids and would like to learn more about our ’22 Adventures, head to the Travel section on the website.
Also, If you have any great experiences in the places we traveled, please share below.