While in Morocco, we joined a 3 day/2 night desert tour with Krikich through our Riad. Although I would NOT recommend anyone to go with our tour company (more on that later), the scenery on the way to Sahara Desert was unworldly beautiful. Here are my memories from the trip:
1. Our first real stop was Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou. Kasbah is Moroccan villages surrounded by earth tone walls. For Ait Ben Kasbah we needed to cross a small creek. The view from the top was breathtakingly beautiful.
2. After lunch at a restaurant near Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou, we were dropped off at the film studio. No one on the tour was interested in checking out the studio, so we spent some time meandering around before driving straight to Dades Gorge.
3. Around sunset time, we stopped at a vista point to see rock formations resembling monkeys curling up against each other. Our tour guide referred to them as “monkey toes”.
3. The next day, we were taken to a Berber village to observe the daily lives of the villagers.
All was well before we were served with mint tea at a shop while a “villager” tried to sell us expensive carpets.
Unsurprisingly, no one in our tour group bought any. The “villager” looked visibly disappointed but fortunately didn’t try to push. There was an awkward moment when everyone tried to get out of the shop as soon as possible.
4. In the late afternoon, we headed to village of Merzouga where we were each given a camel to ride to our desert camp. Strangely, after about ten people from our tour group were gone we were told that they don’t have any more camels and we would be taken to the camp with a 4X4. One of our follow travelers was understandably upset, and he demanded that the employees there get us the extra camels.
About an hour later, we got on our long awaited camels. By then it was already getting dark and it was quite scary to riding a camel through the empty dessert. However, the color just before sunset was beautiful.
Now that I have shown you the beauty of Kasbahs and Sahara Desert, let me tell you why I wouldn’t suggest anyone to join Krikich tour. On their tripadvisor page you will find a ton of reviews singing praises, but if you take a closer look it’s not hard to figure out that most of them are one-time reviewers. So here is my experience with them:
1. Yes, 3 day/2 night tour at 90 Euro per person it was cheap, but so were the tour guide and the company. At the start of the tour, the AC was on when we were passing through the colder regions of Ouarzazate, but the tour guide later turned it off claiming that it was broken. We were all sweaty as the car went through the hot and arid region close to Sahara.
2. The food was very blend and we got food poisoning on the second night, which means that it has to do with something we ate from the tour. Lunches were not included,and we were taken to pricey restaurant for tasteless food. While at the restaurant, we saw our guide getting paid handsomely in cash by the restaurant. We don’t mind tour guides getting paid commission by restaurants, but can we at least go somewhere with decent food?
3. Most tourists joined the tour for the camel-riding experience, so I don’t understand why when we arrived in Merzouga, we were five camels short?
4. There was no toilet or bathroom at our desert camp. I was fine with no bathroom for one night, since we were promised that we would be taken to a hostel for a shower the next day (which did not happen), but no toilet was terrible. Imagine having a diarrhea (due to food-poisoning from the food given by the tour) in the middle of desert without a toilet! I think that pretty much topped my worst travel experience of all time.
The best way to enjoy Morocco scenery, it seems, would be to book your own hotels and desert accommodation, then hire a trustworthy driver (TripAdvisor has some suggestions on that, although as always, beware of suggestions from one-time posters). You should book the hotels first before contacting the driver. If you let the driver pick your hotel you will be charged a premium. Becky from The Girl and Globe has put together a very nice two-week Morocco itinerary and accommodation suggestions if you are interested. I hope that my poor experience with Krikich tour doesn’t deter anyone from visiting Sahara Desert. Rather, it should serve as an example of how important it is to join a well-reviewed tour operator.