Merzouga is the pearl of the southeast desert in Morocco, a real gem very popular among cowherds around the world long ago. It is a small village in the southeast of Morocco, about 36 km from Rissani, 47 km from […]
Merzouga is the pearl of the southeast desert in Morocco, a real gem very popular among cowherds around the world long ago. It is a small village in the southeast of Morocco, about 36 km from Rissani, 47 km from Erfoud, and 30 km from the border with Algeria.
It is known all over the world for its beautiful landscapes and the immensity of its dunes, where you lose your sight. That is why Merzouga is one of the ideal places to admire its sunset, as well as to contemplate a magnificent starry sky or make adventure experiences 4 4 in Morocco.
The ‘Small Dune’, also known as Erg Chebbi, lies close to Merzouga.’. Despite their name, they are the largest dunes in all of Morocco, 250 metres high. Legend has it that these impressive dunes are the result of divine punishment inflicted on the inhabitants of the ancient village of Merzouga, that while celebrating a party they refused to receive a woman and her children who arrived exhausted and died when they did not receive help.
A furious sandstorm rose up completely covering the city and its inhabitants. Since then they say that shouts are heard from the immense dunes.
The truth is that these dunes captivate travelers by their vastness and the color gold. Some of these beautiful formations reach more than 205 meters in height and change color depending on the schedule.
Taking in the stunning sunset or sunrise over its dunes, as well as the amazing mantle of stars that closes during your nights, is an unforgettable experience, thanks to that in Merzouga, located in the heart of the Sahara desert, is far from the urban and light pollution that most of us are used to. The dunes can be explored both on foot and on the back of the dromedaries or in off-road vehicles, a true 4 4 adventure through Morocco.
In addition, the road that leads from Erfoud to Merzouga and is dotted with hotels, inns and Kasbah where you can stay on your trip to the desert of Morocco.
Also note that it is the nearest large dune desert of Marrakech and also of Fez. There are other options for your getaways from Marrakech, such as Zagora or the Agafay Desert, but keep in mind that Zagora does not have large dunes like those of Erg Chebbi and Agafay is only arid and desert landscape without sand dunes with which Merzouga is the best choice.
Merzouga in recent years is a tourist destination in the Moroccan zone . But in addition to its famous dunes and desert landscapes, Merzouga is also known for the variety of birds that can be seen there, including bustards, chotacabras and flocks of pink flamingos. These birds tend to concentrate near the lake that forms during winter floods on the way to the city of Rissani.
There is also a rich fauna around Merzouga, noteworthy as they can be reptiles (spiny-tailed lizard, monitor lizard and the horned viper or sand viper) and mammals (gerbils, desert hedgehogs, field mice and desert foxes).
This, without forgetting the magnificent palm grove around Merzouga, creating a beautiful contrast between the vegetation of the palm grove and its golden dunes.
Another type of tourism that is gaining followers year after year is that of health and well-being. More and more travelers arrive in Merzouga to undergo cures of sand baths during the months of July and August, since in these months the temperature is higher.
The treatment consists of burying the patients in the hot sand in periods of 5 to 10 minutes, and another rest, in which you should hydrate drinking tea with mint.
This type of treatment should only be performed by professionals and after consultation with our doctor, as there have been cases of severe burns and even heart failure. These sand baths are a Berber treatment of the area for combating arthritic and rheumatic diseases
The Merzouga desert in Morocco is the ideal place for activities, routes and excursions in the area, whether in 4 4, dromedaries, quads, buggies or motorcycles.Off-road vehicles can access a variety of routes and trails in this area, which includes stunning vistas. If we have our vehicle properly prepared, we can travel the countless sand dunes of this part of the Sahara desert.
Note that to cross the dunes you must lower the pressure of your tires to approximately 0.7 bar per wheel. It is very useful to carry a compressor in the vehicle that can be connected to the battery or the lighter of the same to increase or decrease the tire pressure when the vehicle enters and exits the dunes. There are many other tracks with other types of terrain, such as clay or even stone, that require higher tire pressure.
For those who want to enjoy a 4 4 adventure in Morocco and do not have an off-road vehicle, or for those who prefer to be guided by experienced monitors, we offer buggy and quad hire in the desert of Merzouga from an hour to several full days.
It is advisable to look for a guide in the area to show the most beautiful places of the Merzouga desert, as there are many possibilities: from the black village “khamlia”, to the mines of Khol, the old Portuguese prison, the town of orion, the old houses of the French, work areas or nomadic villages, among others.
Depending on how equipped your 4 4 vehicle is and the experience you have at the wheel for this type of terrain, you can choose one or another route, as there are tracks for all types of difficulty.
Between Merzouga and Taouz we find Khamlia or the so-called ‘village of Isamkhan”, located in the shadow of the dunes of Erg Chebbi. It is a town of just over 400 inhabitants, people of much darker complexion due to the mixture of Berbers, Arabs and different tribes of sub-Saharan origin.
In Khamlia the largest tribe are the Bambaras. They also call them gnawas, which is the name given to the descendants of the slaves who came from black Africa. Their ancestors were brought as slaves from central and western Africa, across the Sahara desert, in caravans arriving in southeastern Morocco.
After their emancipation from slave status, they survived as nomads, moving regularly in search of lands favorable to their livestock. In the years 1952 and 1962 they began to settle, together with the Berber nomads, in towns or in the growing urban centers. Thus Jamlia was founded, where today the main economic source is tourism, little agriculture, livestock and lately.
Gnawa music is part of the cultural identity of this people and serves to promote local development initiatives (education, health and responsible tourism).
If you do not want complications and want to enjoy the desert of Merzouga and the many things that this land offers, we can find you the route or circuit that suits you.
In Morocco Travel Land we offer you the best trips to the desert of Morocco, as well as routes from Marrakech and Fez are totally private and at the best price, all with experienced chefs, who speak your language and who know the most beautiful corners of southeast Morocco.
It is also possible to visit the nomads that lie at the back of the Merzouga dunes. It is fascinating to see how they live in the middle of the desert with nothing but their cattle and in small houses of adobe and wood. Children usually approach tourists’ cars to ask for pens, sweets or sell us some crafts.
Another of the typical excursions of this desert area is to visit the mines of Kohl and the work camps of the French located between the desert dunes. The Kohl mines are lead and zinc mines, and were exploited by the French until they were considered no longer profitable.
Working conditions in these mines are extremely harsh due to the high temperature of the site. Kohl powder is widely used today by women in Morocco to shape their eyes. Special care should be taken with the area as it is easy to fall to the work pits, which can have a height of up to 40 meters fall.
To get to the Merzouga desert from Fez, you have the option to take a night bus that will take you to Rissani and from there take a Petit Taxi to Merzouga. However, it is advisable to make the trip during the day because there are many landscapes to see, among them, a lake and one of the largest palm groves in Morocco. You can also get there by Grand Taxi from Erfoud and Rissani or even from Errachidia.
To get from Marrakech to the Merzouga desert there are more bus connections, the journey is about 10 hours to Merzouga.
As for access to some of the Alberguies in Merzouga, keep in mind that it can be somewhat difficult as you will have to access tracks that in some cases are not paved, although that is not a big problem if you have a 4 4 or SUV.
Another point to consider for your escape to the desert is the time of transfers. If you drive or travel by car from Marrakech, you should keep in mind that the distance from Marrakech to the desert is about 10 hours by road and if you travel from Fez to the desert, there are about 9, 10 hours of driving, With which you must organize well the time to enjoy this spectacular area of the country, certainly one of the most beautiful and interesting and you should not miss.
If you are wondering when is the best time to know the desert of Morocco, the answer is that the best seasons to go to Merzouga and its surroundings are autumn and spring, between March and May and September until October since at this time the weather is perfect, the heat is not so suffocating and at night it is not very cold.
Also in November and December many people decide to go to the Sahara desert, because also good dates to travel, although it must be taken into account that it already begins to cool down at night. In recent years it is becoming fashionable to spend the end of the year in the desert of Morocco. To enjoy this trip it is necessary to have a minimum of 4 or 5 days, being recommended at least one week. Easter or the May Bridge can be a good time to take advantage and travel to the desert.
The ”khaima” are a kind of camp formed by tents, built in the traditional Berber style, located in the dunes of the Merzouga desert. These tent camps can be for a single person or a large group of people and are often situated near to hotels. In addition this camp usually includes percussion shows around the fire at night.
They are one of the best ways to enjoy the spectacle of the magnificent starry sky in the desert of Merzouga. ¡ In the open air in the middle of the desert On your trip you can miss the experience of sleeping ! Travel through Merzouga in 4 4 to the khaimas, or excursionines on camel to camp.
If you want to live the experience of sleeping in the desert but do not want to give up comfort, we offer our luxury jaimas located between the Merzouga, which are equipped with private shower and heating for colder nights and if not enough have even Wifi.
In recent years, due to the growing tourism of the area, many hotels have been built in Merzouga, in kasbahs, inns and hostels. There are many options to stay here, among the most prominent are kasbahs and khaimas.
It is interesting to note that if you visit this city in the hottest months it can be a good option to choose an accommodation with pool to cool off in the hottest moments of the day or take a night bath. If what you are looking for is a unique experience you can also find luxury hotels in the desert, Riad type with a lot of charm.Share this tour
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