The Sahara Desert, with its vast stretches of golden sand dunes and awe-inspiring landscapes, is a place of mystery and intrigue. Located in Merzouga, Morocco, the Sahara offers an otherworldly experience that captures the imagination of travelers from around the globe. In this blog, we will explore ten fascinating facts about the Sahara Desert of Merzouga, shedding light on its unique characteristics and captivating allure.
A day trip to Mezouga desert
If you were thinking of doing a day trip to the Sahara Desert from Marrakesh or Fes, think again. If it wasn’t apparent to you by now, let us just say that both cities are located a long, long, long way from the desert. You can’t get to the middle of anywhere in no time! It takes an entire day, at least, to get to the Sahara from either city.
However, you are short on time or simply aren’t charmed by the idea of camping out under the stars, it is perfectly possible to explore the Sahara Desert during the day without having to spend the night in the desert. To do that, you will want to choose an accommodation as your base within striking distance of the sand dunes. To explore Erg Chebbi, choose somewhere in Erfoud or Merzouga. In Order to discover Erg Chigaga, you should be staying around Zagora or Foum Zguid.
Is One Or Two Nights is enough to discover the facts of The Sahara Desert?
Spending a night under the stars in the Sahara Desert is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity you’re unlikely to experience anywhere else in the world. That is why, if you have the time, we recommend spending more than one night in the desert. With two nights, you will be able to explore the desert at a more relaxed pace and fully immerse yourself in the traditional ways of the local tribes. Spend your day sandboarding and camel trekking and your nights singing, dancing, and stargazing! It’s best to do one night in the tents out in the sand dunes and another night in one of the nearby desert towns.
What to choose Erg Chebbi or Erg Chigaga sand dunes?
The Erg Chebbi and Erg Chigaga sand dunes are the two main bodies of sand travelers visit when they explore the Sahara Desert. Each offers a distinct experience. As the most sought-after destination, the Erg Chebbi sand dunes are more accessible, with modern hotels located right at the foot of the dunes in the touristic town of Merzouga. This means that you can literally leave your accommodations and in about a 30-minute camel ride, crest the sand dunes into the vast Sahara.
Erg Chigaga dunes offer a more adventurous experience and are perfect for those looking to travel off the beaten path. Located some 60km from the nearest town, M’hamid, the journey into the desert is a longer, bumpier trek — about 2 hours by 4×4 and a 1/2 day camel ride — through the rock-strewn desert until you get to the great erg. It is definitely more difficult to access, but this means that a lot of the charm of being so remote is not lost with any crowds.
Both dunes, however, offer opportunities to ride a camel, climb dunes, run the cinnamon-and-sugar sand grains through your fingers, admire picturesque views, sleep under the stars, and wake up to incredible sunrise
What do you need to pack for visiting the Sahara desert?
There are some essentials you can’t forget to pack when embarking on your desert adventure. These include:
- A windbreaker or light jacket to survive the cooler nights;
- Comfortable jeans or other pants to make sure your legs are protected from the camel’s rough fur;
- Appropriate shoes (sneakers, hiking boots, or sports sandals);
- A headscarf or hat to block the sun and dust;
- Chapstick and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun;
- A camera to bring home your wonderful desert memories;
- A lens, camera brush, and dustproof/waterproof bag to protect your camera from the sand;
- A flashlight to use at night at the campsite;
- An extra day or two of any medications you need. There are not too many pharmacies in the desert.
Things to do to discover the facts of the desert
Beyond riding camels and stargazing, you might be surprised at the number of activities there are to do in and around the desert regions of Morocco!
- Hunt for fossils. This region is rich in fossils and there are several well-known areas to be sure to find a fossil to take home.
- Visit with a semi-nomadic family. With a trusted guide translating, you’ll be able to understand a bit more about their way of life.
- Listen to Gnawa Music. Though popularly found throughout Morocco, particularly in Essaouira, the desert is the real home of Gnawa Music. The town of Khamlia has a couple of places for you to listen to these desert grooves.
- Explore the sand dunes. Sometimes there isn’t anything better than hopping off into the unknown atop your favorite camel (or 4×4).
- Tour Sijilmassa. Located near Rissani, next to Erg Chebbi, this ruin was once the most important trade post, linking Morocco across the desert with Egypt, Sudan, and Ghana.
- Shop in the local markets. Rissani has the biggest market in the region on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday while Zagora has a vibrant market every Wednesday and Sunday.
- At night, there is often music and campfires in the desert camps.
- The desert skies come alive at night and learning more about the particular astronomy of its nomadic people is highly rewarding.