Merzouga is a small village in the Moroccan part of the Sahara. The Great Desert in this country is mostly dry, fissured ground. But the usual sand dunes here once, twice, and miscalculated. In fact, there is only one such place. And it is located in the vicinity of Merzouga. Her houses and tents stand at the foot of Erg Chebbi, a huge (50 by 5 km) dune massif up to 350 m high. There is no developed infrastructure here – civilization is limited to a couple of supermarkets, several cafes, and restaurants. Most people come to Merzouga not to soak up the soft feather beds of hotel suites, but to take part in a camel safari and feel the authentic Berber lifestyle.
True, it must be borne in mind that buses stop in all cities that come across on the way. Therefore, vehicles leave Marrakech at 8:30 a.m. Arrive in Merzouga only at 9:00 p.m.
Buses to the cities of Erachidia and Rissani often depart from the Marrakesh bus station. This option, although less comfortable, is cheaper than a direct flight to Merzouga – the bus does not make many stops along the way. Upon arrival in Rissani or Erachidia, you can take a relatively inexpensive taxi to Merzouga. In general, this route is quite popular, so a trip in a minibus will cost only 30 MAD. Want a better option? Book with Travelling In Morocco.
What to watch:
Merzouga is the starting point for all thrill-seekers departing deep into the Sahara. The surroundings of this settlement are considered one of the most convenient places to study the nature of the great African desert. The main attraction of Merzouga is a giant ridge of dunes up to 350 m high. The sandy hills are especially fascinating during sunrise, when the shadows on their slopes seem to run into each other under the first rays of the sun, intertwining into a single bizarre pattern.
Another attraction is the small lake Diet Sridzh, located to the west of Merzouga. It fills with water only after heavy rains and in winter, which attracts thousands of birds. Pink flamingos, storks, ducks, and other birds like to rest here.
Merzouga desert accommodations:
Most of the hotels are located within a kilometer zone from the paved highway N13. The settlement is stretched from the north of the village of Hassi Labied to the south of Merzouga, so it is better to book accommodation in advance and check its exact location. Most accommodation options are Berber tents, where a mattress costs around 80-90 MAD. It is better to take warm clothes with you, especially if you plan to go hiking in the desert: it is quite cold here at night.
There are also classic European hotels in Merzouga. So, the main tourist complex, located 500 meters from the center of the village, has 42 rooms, from standard doubles to royal suites. The cost of accommodation starts from 370 MAD per person, but this amount also includes breakfast and dinner. The hotel is located right next to the dunes of Erg Chebbi. The complex has a restaurant, a snack bar, a bivouac, and an excursion center offering off-road trips and camel safaris.
In the rooms of smaller hotels, the cost of living is lower. But the service is worse, and breakfasts are not served everywhere, not to mention dinners. Prices for standard double rooms start from 150 MAD.
Things to do in Merzouga:
As already mentioned, most tourists come to Merzouga to take part in a camel safari through the dunes of Erg Chebbi. Before heading into the desert, you must buy a scarf that protects your neck and head from the sun. Cost of tours: with one night in the desert – 55 EUR. Tents, breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, as well as water, are already included in the price. On the first night, most groups sleep in large Berber tent cities. Dinner is also served here, sometimes with live traditional music. Breakfasts are served very early before it gets quite hot.
Some companies that organize excursions have their own tent camps equipped with all the necessary amenities. Such safaris are more expensive, but the price is fully justified by the comfort. Interested to book a tour of the Merzouga desert? Book with “Tour In Marocco“
Weather in Merzouga
The winter months (November-February) are quite cold (+10 °C), with sunny days and frosty nights. Spring, starting in April, is very comfortable with temperatures up to + 30 °C during the day and cool nights. Summer is naturally very hot.
It sometimes rains (several times a month) in winter and spring, but showers are rare. The best time to visit Merzouga is from February to April.
After arriving at the campsite, it’s time to explore the desert itself. Suddenly, the grown-ups go back to childhood, kicking off their shoes and dipping their hands into the sand as deep as they can. The sand here is very fine and colored like cinnamon, almost seductive in taste. The whole desert is intertwined with the tracks of dromedaries, wild cats, rodents, and scarabs.
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