Merzouga is a genuine flea-bitten two camel town. The dunes are just breathtaking, but the only other thing you can do there is practise having the crap hassled out of you.
Go there and get yourself into the desert ASAP without lingering in Merzouga.
To travel by camel into the sand dunes and stay overnight in a Berber tent is very special. The dunes are amazing, continually changing colour and shape. When we arrived at the tent a hot meal was prepared for us. There were 'sun loungers' outside where we sat and ate at the table.
The night was quite chilly (it was February/March when we went) but there were dozens of thick heavy blankets available and we were warm as toast.
The sky at night in the desert is just unbelievable, did not know there were so many stars out there.
Visit Rissani, a small town just a few miles from Erg Chebbi and Merzouga. We had tea outside and just 'people watched' for a while, the town's population is very varied. It was very interesting to see the differences in dress - from Berber to full Muslim dress.
The market was fascinating, one of the best I have been to. Since it was not touristy we were not hassled and it was a pleasure to make purchases.
Our guide Ali took us to a Gnawa village where we were entertained by a group of their local their musicians. The culture and history iof the Gnawa is fascinating - a great web site is http://www.ibiblio.org/gnawastories/ if anyone is interested.
the lovely dunes of the moroccan sahara! We certainly romanticize being out in the desert and watching sun sets and risings over these moiunds of sand - but they are actually very beautiful.
Combined with the beauty of a camel and the photogenicity of everything out there including the people that manage to eke out an existence and livelihood its a special visit.
Whether you are being blessed with a birthday in the desert, an overnight camp out or driving out to see the amazing diversity of Moroccos landscapes and cultures,
whether you have to stagger your way up to the top of a dune or half asleep drag yourself out of your auberge or onto a camel in the dark -
do get up and get up onto a dune to see a sunrise over the sahara!
We are often asked about camel treks in the Erg Chebbi dunes from the village of Mersouga. One night in the desert is enough for some, while others dream of being part of a caravan and going on a journey. Whatever your dream, we can arrange it. Treks include all meals, desert bivouac with mattresses and bedding, camels!, and guide.
**3Days trip :
Day 01: Transfer to World Heritage Site of Ait Benhaddou backdrop for more than 20 films, crossing the spectacular Tizi n’Tichka Pass of the High Atlas mountains. You will pass through many Berber villages, and once in the desert, riverside oasis and barren hillsides are clustered with Kasbahs (fortified dwellings that house many families and their livestock). Transport to Valley of the Roses, Moroccan dinner and evening at a typical small hotel with beautiful views of the Dades valley, valley of a thousand kasbahs. Overnight in Dades.
Day 02: Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer from the Dades Valley to Todra Gorge: a massive fault dividing the High Atlas mountains, rising to 300 m in a narrow valley with palmeries and Berber villages. After lunch you will transport further into the desert to the tiny village of Mersouga, where you will overnight camel trek into the beautiful Erg Chebbi dunes - the highest in Morocco. One and a half hour camel ride at sunset to a Berber dinner and sleep under the stars or in tents at a desert camp.
Day 03: Views of sunrise in the desert by camel and return to Merzouga. Depart for evening arrival in Marrakech over the High Atlas Mountains.
This trip can be extended by one day to include a visit to Zagora, the gateway city to Sahara, overnight camel bivouac, and 4x4 through the Saghro mountains to Mersouga.
The transport system in Merzouga is slow but reliable. Personally, I prefer to walk, but riding a camel through the Sahara is one of those tourist things that people like to say they've done. It's also reassuring to know that should it get too cold, you can slice it open with your light saber and crawl inside its belly for warmth, until rescue arrives
If you're in the dunes it just ain't an option - gotta try it at least once. Truthfully it was quite comfortable. The tent we stayed in had it's fair share of holes, but it's the desert, not a lot of rain. It was a tad cold but managable, but it this becomes a problem most hotels offer rooms to escape to or gas heaters to take the edge off .
Taking a sunset ride on a camel is a must. It feels very touristy, but hey, that's what we are. The cost is extra and can be negotiated. Remember hang on when the beast stands up!! After that just hang on and enjoy the sights. Once out in the dunes we were shown fossils by our guide - buy or don't buy, regardless you come back.
We stay in a very small hotel with only one man to "take care of us" with only 4 or 5 rooms. But it was delicious. We saw the sunset from the rooftop and the sunrise in the dunes of merzouga that are just in front of the hotel. It´s the begining of the Sahara. It deserves a visit to see how it is a dune. We make a small camel safari.
All the village is surounded by incredible green oasis where local people plant all they need on their daily life. From tomatos to carrots, onions, fresh mint and water melons... You can give it a try and inspect this better.
The sunrise is so fast that you don't have the time to be distracted or you'll miss some of it.
You can just sit there and watch the miracle happen.
Taking a picture of yourself ias a shade characters is fun
What really is amazing is that the colour of the sand is changing rapidly within minutes.
As the sunrays warm up the sand and the light becomes clearer, the desert sand changes colours.
You can just there and watch the miracle happen.
This is Catherine in the still half dark desert
Sunrise is better but sunset is very beautiful too.
In Europe air pollution is so heavy contrary to the clear desert air so that I wasn't amazed that our three teens sat staring at the clear, bright stars for more than an hour. It's one of the things they'll never forget