The Best Reasons to Camp In The Sahara Desert With Kids

What better way to experience Morocco than camping in the middle of the red sand in the Sahara Desert – with kids, of course.

Trekking to a campsite in the middle of the Sahara Desert on camelback, and sleeping in a tent under the Milky Way in dead silence, was one of the most memorable and magical experiences ever. It was definitely the highlight of our entire Morocco trip and was literally the stuff movies and dreams are made of.

We drove from Fez over the Atlas Mountains to Erg Chebbi, a small town on the edge of the Sahara located about 5 miles from the Algerian border.

Kids in turbans, getting ready for camping in the Sahara Desert in Morocco
Stylin’ in their turbans

Buy a Turban…or a Hijab

We stopped to buy turbans on the way.  This wasn’t just to make our pictures look really cool (although they did add a little flair I must admit), but our trusty driver, Khalid, warned us it may be 90 degrees during the day, but in the Sahara the temperature drops VERY quickly.

From Erg Chebbi, we picked up a dune buggy to drive to Merzouga where we’d choose our camels. Of course the boys loved every minute and our driver didn’t need much encouragement to catch air as he drifted over the sand dunes, on a wild ride through the desert!

Visiting the Sahara desert, Morocco with kids. the locals are friendly

The Red Sand Dunes of Erg Chebbi

The red sand dune area of Morocco is primarily associated with Erg Chebbi, which is located near the town of Merzouga in the southeastern part of the country, close to the Algerian border. Erg Chebbi stands out as one of Morocco’s two main ergs – large seas of dunes formed by wind-blown sand. The uniqueness of Erg Chebbi’s dunes is in their striking reddish-gold color, which varies in intensity and hue throughout the day, from the soft dawn light to the deep, rich shades at sunset. You can see how much different the dunes look depending on the sun’s strength and angle.

Erg Chebbi is unique and a popular destination for travelers because of its colors and its accessibility. Unlike many other desert areas, it’s (relatively) easy to reach and provides visitors with the opportunity to experience desert life up close.

Kids riding camels in the Sahara desert, Morocco
Julian was able to ride the cute baby camel!
Sahara selfie!
Sahara selfie!

Kids On Camels

We arrived and picked our camels for the 90-minute trek to the campsite.  I was expecting quite a relaxing ride, but it was actually quite strenuous.  My camel seemed to be in a mood, and I was lodged precariously in between two humps, squeezing my inner thighs for dear life.
Kids riding camels in the Sahara desert, Morocco

It would often turn its head to look me in the eyes as if to say “Don’t try any funny business sister!”

Regardless, I fell into the rhythm of big, jerky camel strides, as I swayed forwards and backwards and side to side squeezing my thighs for dear life.  It was quite a workout! Sahara desert, Morocco dunes are a great place for kids to exploreThe dunes began to change color as the sun started to lower in the sky, and the incredible views took our mind off the discomfort. The dunes themselves are a natural marvel, reaching heights of almost 500 feet, and their formation and color are a result of the specific mineral composition of the sand. The desert’s beauty offers tranquility and a sense of timelessness. It’s a unique destination for those seeking adventure, solitude, or a deeper connection with nature.More camel riding in sahara desert, Morocco sand dunes orange

After about 60 minutes of walking through the dunes, we finally spotted what looked like a collection of tents in the distance. It seemed almost like a mirage.

Our camp site in the Sahara desert, Morocco
Is that a mirage or our hotel for the evening?

Sunset by Camelback

The sun was setting, it was definitely getting cooler, and we parked our camels and began to hike a huge sand dune to watch the sun set over the dunes.

Climbing dunes in the sahara desert, Morocco
This dune is actually much steeper than it looks and was quite challenging

It was the most impressive sunset we have ever seen.  Climbing dunes in the sahara to watch the sunset

As the sun hit the horizon, the sky literally exploded with color. The lights bounced off the sand dunes to share the most incredible shades of yellow, pink, orange, deep red, and finally a dark brownish glow.  Amazing!  Sunset in the Sahara

Last light in the sahara desert, Morocco
My boys look so handsome in the Sahara sunset

The Berber Campsite

Our campground in the sahara desert, Morocco
Our campground

Once the sun set, I realized we’d better get back to our campsite pretty quickly.  It would be very easy to get lost with zero light, and there wasn’t a single sound for miles.  The only light was from the fire and candles back at our camp.

Kids camping in the sahara desert, Morocco
Our humble abode for the evening!

We climbed down the dune, headed back to the campsite, and set up our beds for the night in our modest tents.   The tents were very basic with thick heavy Berber blankets for us to sleep on, and also to lay on top of us for warmth.  I’m pretty sure the linens aren’t changed every day like the Four Seasons Hotel, so tried not to think about who slept in them the night before!

Camping in Morocco with kids!
“Mom, this isn’t very posh” – Julian

We closed the ‘door’ to our tent in the hopes of keeping warmth inside, but it was absolutely freezing.  We added more layers of clothes, and made our way to the communal tent for dinner.  There were about 16 guests total in our camp, from all over the world.

We could smell the tagine cooking from the top of the sand dune, and we were eager to put some food into our cold tummies. We sat cross-legged on the ground, eating tagine, couscous, veggies, and drinking sweet mint tea.

Eating dinner was fun
The tagine was absolutely fantastic after our long camel ride to camp

We shared stories, and after dinner, we lit a campfire and sat around talking and laughing. Our guides played traditional Berber music and we all sang, played instruments and enjoyed the moment.

Nothing like campfire stories while camping
Each group was asked to sing a song that represented them and their country.  Many people sang their national anthem, and we sang ‘Don’t worry about a thing’ – Bob Marley.  Sort of summed up an unforgettable evening…

The Moroccan Desert Can Get Cold At Night!

As the fire died down it was time for bed.  We were all freezing cold at this point.  We slept in layers of clothes (including hats and gloves) and cuddled for maximum body heat in the same bed.

Brr! camping in the desert can be chilly
I think I actually froze in this position all night with my face locked into this sexy grimace

Julian stuck his little hands in between my legs for extra warmth.   The ‘bathroom’ was a separate tent for the whole camp, and was basically a hole in the desert floor with a make-shift bucket for a sink and mirror surrounded by tarp.

kids camping in the sahara desert, Morocco
In case you were wondering, there’s no padding between the Berber blanket and the desert floor and they are sleeping in hats, hoodies and gloves.

We decided to use this facility as little as possible, instead we’d shower properly the next day in a hotel.  We cuddled under the stars and stared up at the milky way.  The stars were so bright as we were in complete darkness, and it was strangely silent (except for the odd camel fart much to Julian’s delight).  sahara desert, Morocco milky way
There was practically zero light pollution and we could see every planet and star of the milky way so clearly.  We felt a million miles away from humanity, and huddling together looking up at the stars in the Sahara Desert is one of our most amazing experiences together.

The Sahara desert - a chill Moroccan sunrise
We set off from camp in darkness the next morning at 6am

sahara desert, Morocco sunrise camel ride

Dawn in the Desert with Kids

The next morning we were woken at 5.30am.  We were warned it would be a brutally cold morning, but it would be worth it.  We drank lukewarm weak coffee, ate rusks, and packed our backpacks ready to trek on our camels.  It was seriously freezing.

A freezing cold camel ride
This boy is NOT happy here….it was so cold

Poor Julian said he couldn’t feel his fingers and toes (neither could I for that matter) so I told him to write the alphabet with his toes inside his double layers of socks and shoes. His face was pink and the snot was almost freezing to his face.

We set off for Merzouga, clung to our camels in the freezing cold and darkness for about 40 minutes (and I’m not going to lie… I was miserable and wondered why the heck we decided to do this in the first place)…. then we stopped.

sahara desert, Morocco with kids for sunrise Our guides obviously knew this spot, and we stared over the dunes to witness the most spectacular sunrise.  It was very slow to rise, and I was surprised to feel the temperature immediately rise, as we watched the magical show courtesy of mother nature.

Riding camels in the Moroccan desert
This is Hot Hubby’s phone home screen still

We were amazed by the different shades of yellow, orange, pink and red, and very slowly the temperature became more bearable.  Family on Camels in the Sahara desert, Morocco. Nice.It was almost more spectacular than the sunset!  camping and camel rides sahara desert, MoroccoAfter taking the most incredible pictures, we made our way back to Merzouga for a tasty traditional breakfast, hot coffee and HEAT!sahara desert, Morocco

sahara desert, Morocco warm again for breakfast in merzouga
This is the face of someone who sat in the hot shower for 30 minutes!

Camping in the Sahara With Kids: Insider Secrets

  • Pack plenty of warm clothes.  
    It can get super cold at night, think below-freezing temperatures. Bring a hat, gloves, sweaters, warm socks, a jacket, and lots of layers.
  • Avoid visiting the dunes in July and August.
    The winds are brutal and almost unbearable to explore the dunes, not to mention the extremely hot temperatures during the day.
  • Choose a reputable tour company.
    There are many companies offering trips to take you camping in the Saharan Desert.  Be sure to choose a smaller campsite for a more intimate experience. And make sure you’ll camp in the dunes, not desert scrub.
  • Be prepared to be off the grid with no cell service. Completely and totally off the grid.
  • Be sure you’ve got your ‘song’ to share with the other campers!
  • Bring extra batteries for cameras and cell phones if you are using that for pictures.
    There is nowhere to charge your devices until you get back to Merzouga and it would be a total bummer to run out of juice for the grand finale sunrise!
Sahara desert, Morocco husband
Love this pic of Hot Hubby!

Camping in the Sahara Desert with kids is an adventure that requires careful planning. To ensure a smooth experience, focus on practical preparations: pack plenty of layers for the cold nights, bring sunscreen and hats for sun protection, and choose tours that will accommodate young travelers. Comfort is key so equip everyone with necessary gear and emphasize the importance of staying hydrated and following guide instructions.

Where is Erg Chebbi?

Erg Chebbi or “Sea of Dunes” is one of Morocco’s two major Saharan ergs – large seas of dunes formed by wind-blown sand. It’s located in the southeastern part of the country, near the town of Merzouga. Erg Chebbi’s dunes are a stunning sight, some reaching up to 150 meters in height, and are famous for their remarkable orange-hued sand, offering breathtaking views, especially at sunrise and sunset.

Getting There:

From Marrakech or Fez

The most common starting points for a trip to Erg Chebbi are the cities of Marrakech and Fes. You can find guided tours that include transportation and guides. These tours can last several days and might include other stops.

By Car

Renting a car and driving to Erg Chebbi is an option if you’re comfortable with long distances and navigating Moroccan roads. We were not. The journey from Marrakech takes around 10 hours, but renting a car gives you flexibility to explore at your own pace. You don’t need a 4×4, but you’ll like to find an SUV to cushion the bumps. A 4×4 isn’t a bad option.

By Plane

For a quicker trip, you can fly to Errachidia from Casablanca. From Errachidia, it’s about a 2-hour drive to Merzouga, and you can arrange for a taxi or a hotel pickup.

When planning a Sahara Desert trip with kids, bring some of their basic comforts and set realistic expectations for the desert environment. It’s amazing to be so isolated and it’s amazing to be surrounded by sand dunes. I think most kids will love this, but you know your kids the best. I hope you and your family will enjoy a memorable desert camping experience in Moroccco, creating lasting memories while exploring one of the world’s most unique landscapes.

Would you take your kids camping in the Sahara Desert in Morocco?

Let me know in the comments below and join me on Instagram and X (Twitter)!

About The Author

Samantha

I’m a travel and health writer, digital brand consultant, breast cancer survivor, and supermom to two boys! I keep it real and share stories of raising an active family, life after a cancer diagnosis, and family travels around the world! Each story is shared with my dry, and sometimes naughty sense of humor.

3 COMMENTS

  1. melclayville | 5th Jan 18

    Yes! I have wanted to do this for so long! One of these days we will make it to Morocco and ride those camels into the Sahara! Thanks for sharing your experience and for the tips!

    • Samantha Kuhr | 5th Jan 18

      It was incredible! Hopefully you make the trip soon! Happy New Year!

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