Merzouga

Erg Chebbi

Merzouga is a village in the Sahara Desert in Morocco, on the edge of Erg Chebbi, a 50km long and 5km wide set of sand dunes that reach up to 350m. Most people are here to take a camel safari into the dunes, and to get a taste of remote (tourism-influenced) Berber life.

The local population is mix of Arabs and Berber, and generally welcoming and friendly.

Get in

From Marrakech, drive East to Erfoud (2 days drive, stop for the night in or near Ouarzazate). From Fez, drive South to Erfoud (1 day).

From Erfoud, continue South 14 km (11 miles) to Rissani, carry on through the village and follow the road Southeast for 40 km (24 miles) to Merzouga. In recent years, the road to Merzouga has been asphalted and also to Taouz, a southern military border town (foreigners cannot cross here). The short access roads (1 or 2 km long) from the main road to the hotels alongside the sand dunes are normally not asphalted, but well maintained. There is now an asphalt road to Hassi Lybed, a smaller village about 4 km before Merzouga.

From Rissani to Merzouga, a grand taxi or van is 10/12dh. If you don't want to wait for other people to fill your grand taxi, pay 60dh. If you arrive before sunrise (if you come in the 6=7am bus from Fez) you can pay up to 100dh for a grand taxi.

Beware of guides in Rissani or Erfoud who offer to take you to Merzouga for 5 dihram each, but instead strand you at their auberge 20 km north of the village. If you decline their offers of camel rides and lodging, it is often quite difficult (and expensive) to make your way back to town.

You can also fly to Ouarzazate from Casablanca, then continue to Erfoud, Rissani and Merzouga.

There are also weekly flights into Errachadia, about 2 hours north of Merzouga by car.

Supra Tour buses from Marrakech and also from Fez have daily trips that stop in Merzouga village.

If you're continuing on to one of the small villages nearby, such as Hassi Labied, the usual tourist price is a fairly steep 50 dirhams (total, not per person) for the short 5 km drive. Beware that overnight busses may sometimes arrive more than an hour early, putting you in Merzouga before sunrise. If this happens, you may find yourself with no cabs available, so be prepared to wait for someone to arrive.

Tour operators can arrange 4x4s with driver/guides from Marrakech or Casablanca and back.

Get around

The only way to get around Merzouga is on foot. It's fairly small and easily walkable, but you'll likely want to avoid the midday heat.

See

Sunrise/sunset over the dunes. Folk dances and black G'naui music. Visits to villages near Merzouga inhabited by Senegalese musicians and dancers such as Khamlia can be arranged with some guides, ask at your hotel.

Do

It is also possible to tour the dunes on ATVs, but this is highly discouraged.... You're destroying the beauty of what you came to see in the first place, and severely ruining the remote experience that most people are here enjoying on a camel.

Eat

Most people eat meals at their lodge, but a few basic restaurants are scattered around the town if you are in need.

Sleep

There are about 50 small hotels of varying categories along the sand dunes, and most of them own camels or can at least arrange your trip into the dunes.

Snack Hassi Labied is probably the best price-performer Moroccan restaurant It's a good place for groups. "The restaurant changes its theme periodically and on this visit, the chef and his cooks were serving up some excellent food inspired by the spices ... the snack serves taggine,couscous,Kalia,jus,sandwich.... Snack Hassi Labied can arrange also a camel trekking into desert,ski with sand boards,rent bike,quads,excursion with 4x4...

Go next

Supra Tour Buses now travel from the center of Merzouga village north to Meknes, Fes and also over to Ouarzazate and then Marrakech. This is new and an affordable way to get to the desert- but there are no stops to visit the Todra Gorge, Dades valley or Ait Ben Haddaou or Ifrane. Or to take rest stops at your leisure! They travel overnight from fes and during the day from Marrakech.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Friday, November 20, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.