A Brief Intro to Moroccan Sahara
The Great Saharan Desert is the greatest sand desert in the world. With a tremendous diversity of microclimates and plant and animal populations in societies and distributed across northern Africa across 9 million square kilometres. The Sahara stretches from the Red Sea eastward to the Atlantic Ocean westward with vast steep plateaux with active dunes, characterized by high mountains and little green oases.
Although the circumstances are extreme, there are approximately 2 million inhabitants in the Sahara consisting of permanent settlements established nearby water sources. Ethnic tribes that lead a historically nomadic life pursuing old trade routes. The Berbers, a descendant of the pre-Arab people of North Africa, who still maintain their language and culture throughout the Sahara and much of Morocco after about 4,000 years, are most famous of these tribes.
The Sahara is a large desert surrounding Morocco’s vast territories. But all this doesn’t look like the image you probably have when you take a picture of Morocco’s desert. A massive part of Morocco’s desert region is a big, flat, landscape of dusty grey rubble!
You have to head to the ergs to see a real desert with undulated golden dunes. These are areas with moving dunes in the Sahara that look exactly as you would expect to see on your desert tour. x
Must Visit Places in Moroccan Sahara!
During this journey from Marrakech to Moroccan Sahara, enjoy your actual desert encounter with camels, Berber villages and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Leave Morocco on the beaten track to discover its harsh deserts, unique local environment and fascinating history. Join a camel trek and stay the night under the stars in the Moroccan Sahara Desert. In places like Ouarzazate and Kasbah Aït Ben Haddu, you will also have a glimpse of Berbers town life and revisit ancient history. A map, food, lodging, events and transportation through the hotel is included.
Two areas of Saharan dunes that tourists can visit in Morocco are:
• Erg Chebbi
• Erg Chigaga.
Both are found across the Atlas in the extreme south-east of the desert area of Saharan Morocco.
A brief History of Erg Chebbi in Moroccan Sahara
Moroccan legend says God sent the dunes of Erg Chebbi as a punishment to turn a weary traveller away from the Sahara of Morocco. Moroccans claim that the dunes were clustered outside Merzouga to teach them lessons never again to refuse to help weary travellers. The Merzouga Erg Chebbi dunes in Moroccan Shara are undoubtedly one of Morocco’s most significant sights. These large smooth sandy hills are the boundary between Algeria and everyone must-see.
Visiting Erg Chebbi in Moroccan Sahara
The Sahara of your imagination probably resides in Erg Chebbi, one of the many Ergs of Morocco, or in the sea of dunes. Erg Chebbi is for filming at the edge of the Sahara, because of its spectacular expanse of classic dunes of fire-orange.
Erg Chebbi feels like the beginning of many adventures about a 2-day ride from Marrakesh.
Today, the connection to Merzouga’s Erg Chebbi of Moroccan Sahara dunes is a breeze compared with the previous decades. The easiest way is by 4×4 land crossing, but camel trekking is also common for those who have time to explore the Sahara. The best way to do this is by using a guide and driver who speaks English and Arabic. You will have the chance to travel through the dunes and surrounding areas if you choose to, with skilled hands. You should allow at least one week for trekking by camel to Moroccan Sahara.
The Erg Chebbi dunes can be reached easily from Marrakech during a 4-day trip, one night in the desert and fascinating stops along the way.
Drive from Marrakech to Ouarzazate, a small trader city with its own kasbah (5hr drive) is a popular route we recommend. Overnight stay in Ouarzazate.
Drive on Dades and Todra (5-6h driving) from Ouarzazate to Merzouga. Desert camp overnight.
Return to Agdz, an oasis icon of caravansaries, the same way you rest in Ait Benhaddou and return to Nkob, a Berber village surrounded by beautiful palm groves with a moon.
Returning to Marrakech.
Surrounding Places to see in Erg Chebbi
You have an equal opportunity to observe the desert flora and fauna, whether you choose to go on a camel or ride on foot with the Moroccan guide. Many snakes survive and can be seen by their footprints in the wilderness. During the day, glimpses of the jerboa, hedgehog or desert fox and fennec are shown. Desert plants are rather uncommon as the precipitation is deficient and poor in this region. Pink asphodels and mauve static can be found in the spring when the rain is raining. But the birds are the best of all. Lovers of birds will love seeking sparrows, nightjars from Egypt, wilderness wablers, full-fledged babblers and blue-cheeked bee eaters.
Erg Chebbi Weather in Moroccan Sahara
The Moroccan Sahara Desert has seasonal weather, and sometimes it’s completely quiet. But when sand storms arrive with waves, they create a hissing sound so strong that they can shock you. If you have long hair, you should fix your back firmly. Tell your guide during your desert trip to help you purchase one of the dark blue turbans of the Tuareg, the nomadic people who live mostly inside the Sahara and the Berber desert guys. Throughout spring, your head is cold and in winter you are hot.
Life changing experience!
Turn around and look away at the clear path of footsteps you left behind if you run through the dunes. Unless it’s your first walk in the dunes, you’ll never see anything as beautiful in your life. If you are traveling with others, look forward to seeing where they are in the distance, they might look like ants.
Traveling through the Erg Chebbi dunes would definitely make you feel like you’re in the midst of a Star Wars movie. It will be a surreal experience.
All you’ll see is an ocean of chocolate from every point of view. The dunes of Erg Chebbi stretch to the Algerian border and offer one of the most natural views in the region. You can go to Merzouga during the months of January and February to enjoy a private desert experience with your Moroccan guide to travel exploration. Stay away in summer, as it is painfully cold, and some may be lethal.
Why Erg Chebbi is a famous tourist place in Moroccan Sahara?
The dunes of Erg Chebbi in Moroccan Sahara are renowned for their huge height and size, often up to one hundred and fifty meters high and 25 km long and 5 km tall.
Forty kilometers from Erfoud, near town Merzouga, the Erg Chebbi dunes are situated. Historically, it was impossible for Moroccans and other trademen to enter the dunes by way of Erg Chebbi of Moroccan Sahara, who were bringing the Saharan Caravan routes to Timbuktu with oil, silver, slaves and spices. Travelers must have reached some of the most empty and desert regions possible before landing at the dunes of Erg Chebbi in Moroccan Sahara. The sun burned their hair and clothing as they flew during the day.
Visiting Erg Chigaga in Moroccan Sahara
The main attraction is Erg Chigaga, not a dune but a beautiful stretch of golden sand about 56 kilometers southwest from M’Hamid. It is Morocco’s biggest sandy shore, which is 40 km wide and is filled with mountain ridges on the north and south. Camel, which takes five or one day or a week (from Dh500 to Dh600 every day), is the best way to achieve them in the classical film style.
Erg Chegaga can be reached from Marrakech in a total of 4 days, but due to its location you spend more time on the journey than you would if you visited Erg Chegaga. Five days should bring a more friendly tempo. We would like to offer a quick itinerary here:
Departure from Marrakech to both Ouarzazate and Agdz (drive 5-6h). Overnight Ouarzazate and Agdz. Overnight.
Drives to M’hamid (4-6 hours drive) from Ouarzazate / Agdz. 1hr camel trek to the desert camp between the dunes. Take a 4×4 journey back to the bigger dunes. Desert camp overnight.
Return to Ouarzazate or Ait Benhaddou via the Draa Valley (5-6h drive). Ait Benhaddou and Overnight Ouarzazate.
Return via the High Atlas (4 a.m. drive) to Marrakech.
A travel to Morocco could not be done for many travelers before seeing the Sahara’s sweeping sands. Morocco is a satisfying location for that with a range of desert towns and evocative villages, and we include an overnight stay in Erg Chebbi on all our group tours together with a camel trip across sand dunes.
Our travel experts will plan the dream route which spans the Sahara and other highlights in Morocco if you want to see the great Moroccan Sahara in advance.
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