There are only a few places on Earth that can be compared to the incredible landscapes offered by the Sahara Desert. A region of solitude devoid of rainfall and simply covered extensively by orange dunes, this desert is one of the toughest places to survive.
Yet, enthusiastic adventurers and travelers dream of having a glimpse of the Sahara Desert at least once in their lifetime. Far from being a questionable tourist spot, this desert provides the most memorable moments you may never encounter again.
The Sahara is one of the largest and hottest deserts in the world and lies in the African continent. The desert runs along the borders of Eastern Morocco with neighboring Algeria. It covers at least one-third of the African continent and encompasses approximately 10 countries. Spanning over 3.6 million square miles, the Sahara Desert is often compared to the size of a small European country.
Remote camping and exploring the dunes are just some of the activities you can enjoy in the desert. With unlimited potential, here is everything you need to know before traveling to the Sahara desert.
How to enter the Sahara Desert
Although Sahara is a large region that runs along with many countries, certain areas of the desert are restricted for traveling due to civil and political unrest. However, there are other significant sections open for travelers which offer various expeditions in the desert.
Morocco is unarguably one of the most popular destinations that have access to the Sahara Desert. Southeastern Morocco is a top area that is accessible to the desert. Another spot is Marrakesh city in Morocco that is roughly 600 kms away from various popular attractions in the Sahara.
Merzouga, a small Moroccan town in the Sahara Desert, is known to be a gateway to Erg Chebbi. Fez in northern inland Morocco is another famous city that is close to Merzouga. From this city, camel rides and jeep expeditions take you to the extraordinary sand ocean of the Sahara.
Traveling from Marrakesh or Fez to the Sahara may take up to two days but the drive is worth it. You will pass by picturesque Moroccan landscapes along the route such as the valley of roses, Dades Gorges, Ait ben Haddou as well as other beautiful cities.
The west of Egypt is a vast corner of the Sahara desert. Once you enter Cairo, you can opt for direct bus lines to multiple desert oases such as Dakhla, Siwa, El Kharga, as well as the iconic White and Black deserts.
After you reach the Oasis, you can enjoy the well-known 4WDs excursions as well as slow camel rides in Sahara.
Southern Tunisia exposes the northern Sahara region, which is one of the most celebrated corners of the desert. There are two main towns in Tunisia that are gateways to the Sahara Desert.
Tozeur is a one-hour flight or seven-hour bus ride away from Tunis and is situated close to the Salt Lake of Chott el Jerid. It also has some of the most memorable sites of Stars Wars as the series was filmed against the backdrop of the Sahara Desert in Tunisia.
On the other hand, Douz has the most stirring sand summits of the Grand Erg Oriental, the largest seas of sands that spills over into Algeria. Yet, if you are still seeking a true Saharan adventure head over to Ksar Ghilane, a remote outpost in south of Douz that features splendid vistas of Tunisian Sahara Desert and abandoned fortresses.
The best time to visit Sahara
The Sahara Desert is an off-beaten destination that requires travelers to take into consideration various factors before visiting. Naturally, if you want to avoid the hottest months, June to September should be overlooked as the heat is often unbearable.
The best time to visit Sahara is May and October as the temperatures remain mild. December and January are marked as Saharan winter months wherein temperatures become freezing after the sunsets.
Dust storms are most prevalent from February to March sometimes even lasting till May.
Attractions and landmarks in Sahara desert
There are several man-made and natural sites you can see in the Sahara Desert. Full of ancient ruins, oasis, and dunes, here are the top attractions to visit:
Erg Chebbi is a desert that looks dreamy and is composed of blue skies, sands, and dunes. Taking a camel trek, or camping under the stars are popular activities to do in Erg Chebbi. If you want a true Saharan experience, Erg Chebbi must be on your list.
This is a beautiful oasis that lies in the far Eastern region of Egypt’s Sahara Desert. Surrounded by olives and date trees, there are natural springs, blooming gardens as well as ancient oracle temples in the oasis.
The Majorelle Gardens
This manmade oasis in Marrakech was perfected by French painter Jacques Majorelle. The grounds are lined with banana trees, palms, fountains, water channels, and marble pools. There is also a Berber culture museum which is too good to be missed.
The White Desert
This natural and marvelous site of the Sahara Desert is a true beauty. The white desert is a collection of chalk and limestone boulders that have eroded over time.
What to pack for a trip to the Sahara Desert?
Here are some essential items you should not fail to pack for your desert adventure:
- Sunscreen – As you’ll spend more time in the desert, you will be constantly exposed to the sun. To protect your skin and avoid sunburn, bring along sunscreen with a high SPH.
- Water – Although water is one of the basic things to pack, travelers still underestimate its worth. As the region is arid and dry, there are chances one could get dehydrated often. Carry plenty of bottled water and if possible, have an additional water supply backup in your vehicle.
- Clothes – The typical attire for a desert adventure in the Sahara is lightweight garments that are light-colored. Bring along a windbreaker or jacket for chilly nights as well as a hat, scarves, and sunglasses to cover your face and head as much as possible.
- Handy first aid kit – In the middle of the desert region, emergencies and unexpected circumstances can occur. To prepare yourself for such incidents, carry a first aid kit that can help whenever an emergency does occur.
- Small flashlight -Even though you might spend your nights in a pre-installed desert camp that is equipped with modern amenities, a small flashlight is still crucial to help you navigate in the dark.
Visiting the Sahara desert is a unique experience altogether. Refer to our guide the next time you think about planning a trip to this destination!
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