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My trip to Merzouga | Morocco

My trip to Merzouga | Morocco

My trip to Merzouga | Morocco

During a stay in Morocco, going to the dunes of Merzouga is almost a must if you want to live this desert experience.

This Merzouga desert was for me one of my highlights of my first stay in Morocco, because beyond the sand dunes aspect, you can easily extend the experience by sleeping there.

I share in this article my moment that I spent in this place which seems cut off from the world. And I also give my advice if you want to do the same, whether from Merzouga, Marrakech or Fes.

Where is Merzouga located in Morocco?

Merzouga is located in eastern Morocco, near the border with Algeria (about fifty kilometers). It’s actually a small Moroccan village.

To locate Merzouga in relation to the surrounding towns, it is 350 km from Ouarzazate, 200 km from Tinghir, and 650 km from Marrakech. Or 470 km south of Fez, which is not close …

We therefore generally include the passage through this desert in a traveling loop (with the possibility of one or more nights on site), rather than in a round trip over a day from one of these cities.

What makes it so special is this desert, present right next door. This desert is actually called Erg Chebbi, the “Merzouga Desert” being therefore a misnomer.

It stretches over a hundred square kilometers, over a strip about twenty km long and about 5 km wide. Compared to the Sahara Desert, it is 100,000 times smaller … But it is more than enough to venture there and have the feeling of being in the middle of nowhere!

Note that access to this desert is easy. The main road to get there is the N13, and it’s a road like any other. On the other hand, to get as close as possible to the dunes, and to your camp or excursion starting point, you will in principle have to leave the road. But here again the track is passable: there are even tourist buses that take it …

Venture into the dunes of Erg Chebbi

On the back of a camel in the Merzouga desert

There are several ways to live this desert experience. I detail here the one I practiced: a walk in the dunes with a night spent in a camp.

Once “settled” at the camp, head for the dunes! On foot of course, or on the back of a camel! but above all it brings a few advantages:

We obviously tire less than on foot.
This avoids having to walk in fine sand, which is not necessarily easy …

Admire the view

In any case, the dromedary does not climb to the top of the dunes! It will therefore still be necessary to walk (or rather climb…) to get to the top, and thus be able to observe this impressive sea of sand.

At the top of these dunes you really get the feeling of being in the middle of the desert, far from everything.

The highlight of the show, since the idea is to sleep there, is to enjoy a magnificent sunset from the top of a dune. We then see the sun set over the desert dunes, one of the highlights of this “excursion”.

Of course, given the configuration of the place, we can witness the sunrises in the same way. I regret that I did not.

In all cases, depending on the light of day, the dunes will be lit differently. I still took advantage of the reddish colors of the early morning: superb!

It was January, however, and the sun rises at a decent time (around 7:30 am). As you get closer to the summer months, it has to be earlier and earlier …

Fun activities in the desert

Tourism obliges, certain activities which I will qualify as “playful” appeared. Note for example the quad, motocross, or sandbording to surf on sand dunes.

But you can also simply practice sledding on a bag (or “Berber sledge” as they say 🙂).

Spend a night in the Merzouga desert

There are different “camps”, generally made up of more or less sophisticated tents, and more or less distant in the dunes.

For a camp “deep” in the dunes, the goal is usually to join it for the night. And by going through a service provider who will take you there on the back of a camel or other.

For comfort, it depends on the camp you choose. This goes from the minimum, that is to say sleeping under the stars, to that in shelter in tents, bivouac type, with beds or just mattresses and blankets.

My advice to discover this Moroccan desert

You will understand: I recommend spending at least one night in Merzouga. This is in order to enjoy the feeling of sleeping in the desert on the one hand, but also to be able to enjoy the sunrises and sunsets over the dune horizon.

On the other hand, I think that 2 nights would be too much, because it will be necessary to “furnish” during the day: walking in the desert is certainly a unique sensation, but after a while it becomes repetitive all the same …

The temperature differences in the desert between day and night can be significant… Depending on the season, temperatures can therefore be low at night. I therefore advise you to bring a good sweater or an additional sleeping bag if you sleep in a tent.

If like me you are carrying a camera, be careful with sand, especially during “gusts” of wind where it can seep into your equipment.

In conclusion, sleeping a night in the desert of Merzouga, or any other desert in Morocco for that matter, is an experience that I recommend. It’s one of my best travel memories in Morocco, and even one of my best travel memories overall.

I hope I have been able to enlighten you on this place if you are in the optics of going there, or if you are preparing your stay in Morocco. If so, I wish you a nice trip to this country: Morocco is truly exotic, both culturally and in terms of landscapes!

My trip to Merzouga | Morocco

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