Sleeping in the Moroccan desert!
9 million kilometers in length. If the Sahara desert were a country, it would be the fifth largest in the world, closely following the United States. Or what is the same, almost all the countries of the planet measure less than the Sahara. The figures figures are, but they help to understand the immensity of this place. This is Merzouga and the Erg Chebbi dunes, the most beautiful part of the Moroccan desert.
The last time we spoke, he just spent a few days in the Todra gorges , one of the most bizarre landscapes in Morocco. From there about three hours separated us from Merzouga, the reference town to visit the Moroccan Sahara . Although along the way another stop would fall.
How to go to the Moroccan desert
Although here I explain how to go to the Moroccan desert from Marrakech , I already tell you that, despite its increasing tourist pull, you can only get there by your own car or organized excursion . Therefore, forget about any public transport option.
Despite the fact that the desert touches Morocco at various points , the only sandy postcard (in the Aladdin plan) that it offers is the Erg Chebbi dunes , so that is where you will have to arrive to have the most complete experience possible. And to visit this point you will have to do it from Merzouga, the neighboring town. So, and not to get bored with logistics anymore, if you want to dip your feet in the sand of the Moroccan Sahara you will have to get to Merzouga, a place too far and remote to visit it by bus. The price of the tours from Marrakech depends on the number of days, stops and the quality of the accommodation included.
If you prefer to do it by car on your own, you will be happy to know that outside of Marrakech it is relatively easy and calm to drive on these roads, so I highly recommend it if you have a minimum of expertise behind the wheel.
Also, along the way, apart from the mentioned gorges of Todra, Ouarzazate and Ait Ben Haddou , there are many anonymous stops that you will like to do .
Viewpoints, more or less improvised, where you can see that beauty does not only belong to green .
Merzouga and the dunes of Erg Chebbi
Returning to our story, with the intention of arriving as soon as possible, we went straight to Merzouga, the town closest to Erg Chebbi. As I told you before, these dunes are the only sandy region (erg) of the Sahara in Morocco, and they extend about 22 kilometers long and 5 wide . In other words, this small space is the best representation of the Sahara in the Moroccan country, and hence its tourist demand.
Upon our arrival in Merzouga our tour awaited us. Although there are round trips on the day …
… I recommend that you spend at least one night at Erg Chebbi . Sleeping there is pure magic.
Sleep in the Sahara desert in Morocco
Despite the fact that Merzouga itself has a wide range of accommodation, as I anticipated, one of the main attractions of this excursion is being able to stay overnight next to the Erg Chebbi dunes, for which camps have been set up in the area: the so-called tents .
IMPORTANT: in March 2019, the Moroccan government prohibited and removed all the camps from the Erg Chebbi dunes , enabling a sector in the vicinity. The reason: the environmental damage that the exploitation of the desert was doing to the desert and the difficulty of intervening in accidents. At a tourist level, the reality is that sleeping around the dunes has nothing to do with sleeping inside, but any decision made in favor of the environment must be respected .
We spent the night in a simple accommodation (but with everything you need) included in the contracted tour. If you prefer, you can also manage the accommodation on your own, which includes (generally) transportation there, a dinner and a possible breakfast . There are options for all pockets:
- For 40 euros the double room you will sleep in this current berber camp but very well valued.
- € 150 per couple costs to stay in the Golden Camp, a very good value for money option.
- If you are looking for a luxurious stay, € 265 costs double at the Ali & Sara camp.
Wherever you sleep, you will have to get there first. And, how could it be otherwise, we would do it on a camel.
Camel ride in the Moroccan desert
One of the great attractions of this trip to the Moroccan desert is the camel ride , an experience that made me feel like I was in the middle of a movie . Now, I’m not going to fool you, it can be exhausting.
Before 2019, when the camps were in the middle of the Erg Chebbi dunes, this journey between humps did not cost you more than an hour, making it more bearable. Now, since the mentioned change in the location of the tents, it is not uncommon to be close to two hours on the camel’s back. And it’s intense .
With this I do not mean that you do not do it, but that you are mentalized and that , if you have any physical problem, look for motorized alternatives . Without going any further, my father, in his sixties, fell as he got off the camel and saw the stars. No more happened, but it could have. I think it is not an activity suitable for all audiences.
Precautions and tourists on the sidelines, if you have condition and desire, I can not stop recommending you to do so .
It is very worthwhile to cross such a remote scene on the back of such an unusual animal .
Sunset in the Sahara desert
No matter how you go, do everything possible so that the last hour of sun catches you in the middle of the dunes . The desert is impressive …
… But during twilight it still looks better.
In my two stays there, both my companions and I greatly enjoyed the photographic possibilities that such a setting provides …
… in that light.
When the sun fell, we returned to the tent to have dinner while the stars finished their makeup.
And suddenly, heaven offered us another show . Unpayable.
In this society in which we live with our backs to nature, it reconciles you to live moments like this. Cities don’t let us see the stars .
Sunrise in the dunes of Erg Chebbi
Very early in the morning we wake up with a very clear objective: to get out together with the sun.
But, unfortunately, I had forgotten about the glasses in Merzouga (the day before I worked with contact lenses), a not very good idea for a person with more than five diopters.
At once we gathered our things and returned to our mounts. Despite going practically blind , the ambient light was on point, so I even enjoyed this ride more than the previous afternoon. Camera 1 – 0 Glasses.
Merzouga – Meknes Route
With such an early morning it was not surprising that we arrived in Merzouga very early. There we have breakfast (they are usually included in the tour) and we embark on a long journey to Meknes , where we will return our rental car. We made a stop …
… but in moderation, since about 500 kilometers on secondary roads separated us from our final destination. Without a doubt, the best moment of this long road trip was at the height of the mountainous town of Ifrán , where we had a spectacular snowfall …
… that moved me to the coldest countries in the world. It is curious how, on the same day, I went from the absolute drought of the desert to one of the most “Papanoelesque” snowfalls that I have ever seen .
The return to Spain
It seems incredible, but almost a month had passed since my arrival and it was time to return to Spain. In the late afternoon a plane with my name was leaving in Rabat , a perfect route to take stock. An adventure that started with an enriching Arabic course in the Moroccan capital …
… Which I interspersed with a getaway to see the blue prince of Morocco, Chefchaouen .
After my stay in Rabat, I started a route on my own through the towns of Agadir , vacation city …
… Essaouira , one of the most photogenic places I’ve ever been …
… and that road trip from Marrakech to the desert. A very complete trip, with experiences and landscapes of all kinds. Morocco is a vast and very complete country, which offers its visitors any type of plan. An adventure in which I embarked alone, but which I shared with excellent people. Thank you all for putting the icing on this sweet Arab . I hope to see you again soon.
Having said this, I end the account of my Moroccan journey, although I leave you with the travel guide I have prepared on the Arab country. I hope you can enjoy this land as much as I did. Shukran, Morocco .