Sunrise on the Dunes
One of the guys running the hotel had told us sunrise was at 6.40 am so we set our alarms for 6am. However, I woke suddenly at 5.40 am and as it was already a little light outside I decided to wake Ruth. We left the hotel at 6am. Light was just appearing over the horizon but it wasn’t quite sunrise yet so we had timed it perfectly.
We made our way quickly to the highest dunes behind the hotel and waited for the sunrise. We could see a group on one of the higher hills in the distance, and I think they may have got the sunrise before us, but never mind, it was beautiful when it finally happened at 6.15 and we felt very privileged. It had been chilly when we started the hike but the sun soon warmed us up. What I remember most is the changing colours of the sand as the sun appeared over the dunes.
Sunset on the Dunes
We were both very tired after arriving in the hotel as we’d had a long journey from Meski, but, tempting as it was to go to sleep, we decided to go our on the dunes for sunset over the desert. It was well worth it. We walked for about 40 minutes from the hotel to some large dunes about 40 or 50 metres in height. The views here were fantastic. We could see a group camel-trekking in the distance but otherwise there was nothing on the horizon. The colours were so vivid and changed very quickly as the sun disappeared from view.
Dunes of Merzouga
The dunes are about 40 kms. away from Erfoud. It's a great experience to go there, and don't forget to ride a dromedary that will take you up to the dunes to enjoy the sunset, the sunrise, or both of them. See my travelogues.
There is an excellent hotel there. See the Accommodation & Hotels section.
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.
be out and walk amongst the dunes!
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.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Road Trip
see a sahara sunrise!
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!
- Adventure Travel
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
Desert Trip , treks on the Erg Chebbi
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.
- Hiking and Walking
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
Snoozing in a Berber Tent
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 .
- Budget Travel
Camels and Sunset
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.
- Adventure Travel
Oasis near Merzouga village
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.
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