The Moroccan desert in town of Merzouga is known as the “pearl” of the Sahara desert and is a real gem that draws visitors from all over the world. It is a tiny community in southeast Morocco, 20 kilometers from the Algerian border, 35 kilometers from Rissani, and 45 kilometers from Erfoud. It is renowned across the world for its stunning scenery and the vastness of its dunes, where the view is obscured. Because of this, Merzouga is among the best locations in Morocco to take in a beautiful sunset, marvel at a starry sky, or go on 4×4 adventures.
In Erg Chebbi, also known as “The tiny dune,” which is close to Merzouga. Despite their name, they are Morocco’s largest dunes, at 250 meters tall. According to legend, these enormous dunes were created as a divine retribution for the old settlement of Merzouga’s residents refusing to accept a mother and her children who came tired and died when they received no assistance. The settlement and its occupants were fully engulfed in a raging sandstorm. Since then, screams are allegedly heard around noon emanating from the enormous dunes.
In actuality, the size and orange hue of the sand in these dunes captivate tourists. These stunning structures, some over 200 meters tall, change color throughout the day. Merzouga is situated in the middle of the Sahara desert, distant from the urban areas and light pollution that most of us are used to, making it an extraordinary experience to observe the stunning sunrise or sunset over its dunes as well as the incredible blanket of stars that closes over its nights.
You may explore the sand dunes on foot, in dromedaries, or in off-road vehicles for an authentic 4×4 experience in Morocco. Additionally, there are numerous hotels, inns, and kasbahs along the way from Erfoud to Merzouga where you can stay while traveling through the Moroccan desert.
Remember that it is the nearest significant dune desert to both Marrakech and Fes as well. There are other vacation possibilities from Marrakech, such as Zagora or the Agafay desert. However, you must keep in mind that neither Zagora nor Agafay have the same size sand dunes as Erg Chebbi, making Merzouga the best choice.
In the Moroccan region of the Sahara Desert, Merzouga is establishing itself as a popular tourist destination in recent years. But Merzouga is also renowned for the diversity of birds that can be found there, including bustards, nightjars, and flocks of pink flamingos, in addition to its well-known dunes and desert scenery. On the way to Rissani, these birds frequently congregate close to the lake that emerges during the winter floods.
Additionally, Merzouga is home to a variety of animals, including reptiles (such as the horned viper or sand viper, monitor lizard, and spiny-tailed lizard) and mammals (gerbils, desert hedgehogs, field mice, and desert foxes). Their footprints are frequently visible in the early sand. Without neglecting the spectacular palm grove that surrounds Merzouga, the contrast between the palm grove’s greenery and its golden sands is breathtaking.
Health and wellness tourism is another form of travel that continues to grow in appeal. Since the weather is warmer in July and August, an increasing number of tourists visit Merzouga to have sand bath treatments. Patients must spend 5 to 10 minutes buried in hot sand, followed by the same amount of time resting, during which they should drink peppermint tea to stay hydrated. Due to the risk of serious burns and even heart failure, this sort of treatment should only be administered by trained specialists after consulting with our doctor. These sand baths are a traditional Berber medicine used to cure arthritic and rheumatic conditions.
The Moroccan desert of Merzouga is the ideal location for local activities, itineraries, and excursions, whether on 4×4 vehicles, motorcycles, camels, quads, or buggies. Off-road vehicles can access a variety of roads and trails in this area, which includes stunning vistas. We can traverse the many sand dunes in this region of the Sahara Desert assuming that we have our car adequately prepared.
Remember that you must reduce your tire pressure to about 0.8 bar each wheel in order to cross the dunes. When approaching and exiting the dune region, it is quite helpful to have a compressor in the automobile that can be connected to the battery or cigarette lighter to increase or decrease the tire pressure. Other tracks with different sorts of surface, such gravel or even stone, will need for more tire pressure.
We provide buggy and quad rentals in the Moroccan desert of Merzouga from one hour to several full days for people who wish to go on a 4×4 adventure in Morocco but do not have an off-road vehicle, or for those who prefer to be accompanied by knowledgeable instructors.
It is best to hire a local guide to show you the most picturesque locations in the Merzouga desert because there are so many to choose from, including the “khamlia” village of the black people, the Khol mines, the former Portuguese prison, the city of Orion, the former French residences, the working areas, and nomadic villages.
There are tracks for every level of difficulty, so you may select one or the other according on how well equipped your 4×4 vehicle is and how much experience you have driving on this type of terrain.
We can find the itinerary or trip that is perfect for you if you wish to avoid hassles while still enjoying Merzouga’s desert and everything it has to offer. At Vacations In Morocco, we provide the best desert tours as well as entirely private, budget-friendly day tours from Fes and Marrakech, all with knowledgeable guides who speak your language and are familiar with the region’s most picturesque nooks.
Khamlia, widely known as “the black people’s settlement,” is situated between Merzouga and Taouz in the Erg Chebbi dunes’ shadow. Due to the combination of Berbers, Arabs, and various sub-Saharan tribes, the settlement has little over 300 residents, all of whom have substantially darker skin tones. The Bambara are the largest tribe in Khamlia. The term “Gnawas,” which is used to refer to the offspring of slaves who originated in black Africa, is also used to refer to them. In the caravans that arrived in southeast Morocco, their ancestors were transported as slaves from Central and West Africa over the Sahara desert.
They lived as nomads after being freed from slavery, traveling frequently in search of suitable land for their livestock. Together with Berber nomads, they started to settle in villages or expand urban areas around the 1950s and 1960s. Thus, Khamlia was established, where agriculture, livestock, and most recently, tourism, are the key economic drivers today.
Gnawa music contributes to the cultural identity of this community and supports local development programs (education, health and responsible tourism).
The nomadic communities located in the wide Merzouga desert can also be visited. Observing how they survive in the middle of the desert with nothing except their livestock and tiny adobe and wood structures is intriguing. Children frequently approach tourist vehicles to ask for pens, and sweets, or to sell us crafts.
Visiting the Kohl mines and the French work camps hidden among the dunes is another popular tour in this desert region. The French worked the lead and zinc mines in the Kohl region until they decided they were no longer profitable. Due to the hot climate, the working conditions in these mines are particularly difficult. Moroccan ladies now frequently use kohl powder to define their eyes. Since it is simple to fall into the work shafts, which can be up to 40 meters high, extra caution must be exercised in the region.
You have the choice of taking a night bus from Fes to Rissani and then a Petit Taxi to Merzouga to go to the desert. To observe the many different scenery, including a lake and one of Morocco’s biggest palm plantations, it is best to travel during the day. Grand Taxi service is also available from Erfoud, Rissani, and even Er Rachidia.
There are additional bus connections from Marrakech to the Merzouga desert; the trip takes about 9 hours to reach Rissani.
Keep in mind that getting to some of the hotels in Merzouga might be challenging because you’ll need to drive on sometimes-unpaved tracks, though this is not a significant inconvenience if you have a 4×4 vehicle or SUV.
The timing of transfers is a further consideration while planning your desert getaway. You must plan your time wisely in order to enjoy this amazing region of the country, unquestionably one of the most beautiful and interesting, and one that you should not miss, if you are driving from Marrakech to the desert. The distance from Marrakech to the desert is approximately 10 hours by road, whereas the distance from Fes to the desert is approximately 8, 9 hours.
The best seasons to visit Merzouga and its surroundings are spring and autumn, between the months of March to May and September to October, because at these times the weather is ideal, the heat is not so oppressive, and at night it is not too cold. This is the answer to the question of when is the best time to travel to the desert of Morocco. Although it must be considered that it starts to cool off at night, many people also choose to travel to the Sahara desert in the months of November and December since they are also good times to do so.
Spending the year’s end in the Moroccan desert has become popular in recent years. It takes at least three to four days to appreciate this vacation, while it is recommended that you stay for at least a week. A wonderful time to take advantage and visit the desert is around Easter or the beginning of May.
The tents, which are situated amid the Merzouga desert’s dunes and constructed in the typical Berber style, are a type of camp made up entirely of tents. These tents may be for a single person or a large group, and they may be positioned near hotels. Additionally, these tents frequently feature drum performances around the fire. They are among the best ways to take in the wonder of the stunning starry desert sky. You must not pass up the opportunity to spend the night outside in the Sahara desert when you are traveling! We give you the option of taking a camel expedition to the bivouac or a 4×4 tour through Merzouga to get to the tents.
We have luxury tents between Merzouga that are fitted with private bathrooms, showers, heating for the coldest nights, and even wifi if you want to experience sleeping in the desert but don’t want to give up comfort.
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