Erg Chebbi Camel Treks with a local desert guide, to sleep under the stars in our deep desert camp, is the highlight of our Morocco Desert Tours and Sahara Excursions. Or, with a short optional camel ride, spend the night in our Luxury Erg Chebbi Desert Camp. If you have a rental car we can meet you in Rissani and accompany you to the dunes. Or, if not, join one of our Morocco Desert Tours from Marrakech, Fes or elsewhere.
Morocco Desert Tours including Merzouga and camel trekking in the Erg Chebbi are a popular choice. Camel Trek Tours include a camel trek, with desert guide, across the sand to overnight in our deep desert camp. There is also the option of a short camel ride and ‘luxury’ camp at the dune line.
If you are driving a rental car we meet you in Rissani and accompany you to the hotel at the dune line where you can safely store the vehicle during your camel trek.
if you prefer not to drive in Morocco, our private 4x4 desert tours and Sahara excursions run daily from Marrakech, Fes, Marrakech to Fes, Fes to Marrakech, Casablanca or elsewhere on request. Your local Berber driver will pick you up in a private vehicle (Toyota Land Cruiser or similar) to transport you across the High Atlas and through rose-filled valleys in Spring, along oasis valley gorges and past one thousand Kasbahs for a sunset camel trek in the dunes of the Erg Chebbi sand sea.
Of all the deserts in Morocco, the Erg Chebbi at Merzouga is one of the highest and most easily accessible because the paved road runs all the way to the base of dunes. Although the sand sea looks quite small and distinct on the map, it is worth noting that this is relative to the enormity of the Sahara desert. The Sahara is the only true desert to be found along the 0° meridian line and also happens to be world's largest. It covers most of North Africa, more than a third of the continent, and an area roughly the same size as the United States of America. It is a desert of extraordinary beauty and variety; all the standard desert landscape types are present from great fields of shifting sand dunes to vast plains filled with rocks.
Merzouga can be reached in a rental car or with public transport as there is a paved/surfaced road between Rissani and Merzouga. However, to reach the small hotels along the dune line does mean crossing a section of unpaved road (piste) and this should be approached with care in a rental car.
If you have limited time, and prefer not to drive in Morocco, then hiring a 4x4 and driver is a relaxed way to travel. On a 4x4 tour, with an experienced local driver who knows the routes, it is possible to avoid the busy tourist routes and ‘get off the beaten track’ to experience the hospitality and traditional lifestyle of the Berbers.
Merzouga is a sizeable, and growing, desert village with a palmerie and gardens where crops are grown e.g. dates, cereals, mint and alfalfa. Close by are two seasonal lakes, a favourite spot for migrating birds in Spring, when Dayet Srji flamingos can often be seen.
For most of the year it is a sleepy place where young men make a living by guiding tourists to local hotels or selling fossils that are locally mined and polished. However, there is another side to this village and, in the summer months, it fills with Moroccans who come here to bathe in the sand. Sand bathing is a traditional treatment for rheumatism and arthritis and, along with the sand bathers, come the street traders and Merzouga transforms into a bustling desert experience.
Sand Boards for sand surfing are available for local hire.
Quad bikes are available for local hire in Merzouga although you are encouraged not to disturb other people who may be visiting the desert for peace and tranquility.
Meet you desert guide and camel trek in the late afternoon, before and/or during sunset, to our small desert camp in the deep desert dunes – travel light and only take essentials in a soft bag that the camel carries. Mounting a camel is unusual because camel legs have double joints so initially you are thrown forward (there is a bar to hold) and then backwards as the camel stands up.
On arrival at our nomad-tended desert camp, traditionally made of thick goat hair, the camels are hobbled, mint tea is served and dinner is freshly prepared and served under the stars. While waiting there is time to relax.
Wake early to climb a close dune and, in the pre-dawn stillness, wait for the sunrise. Return to your tent, pack up and camel trek back across the dunes to shower and breakfast in the hotel at the dune line - or continue camel trekking with your desert guide for another day or days.
Our luxury desert camp is in the small dunes close to the dune line and consists of two ensuite bedroom tents and one dining tent. The bedroom tents are raised off the sand, for your comfort, with wood flooring. Each tent contains a hotel quality bed, mirror, rugs and seating. The attached bathroom tents contain a hand-wash basin, shower and flushing toilet. Bedding and towels are provided. Although there is a dining tent, we eat outside under the stars whenever possible, and only use the dining tent when it is cold or windy. Water and wine is served with dinner, at no extra charge, and the camp staff will drum and sing for you afterwards. Your driver will drop you off at the camp, with a short section of off-road driving across the sand, or you can take a camel ride with a desert guide; in the morning your driver will pick you up.
Organised Sahara Excursions, customized to suit your dates and timescales, run from Marrakech, Fes, Marrakech to Fes, Fes to Marrakech, Casablanca, Tangier or elsewhere on requests. Tours can start and end in the same city e.g. Marrakech to Marrakech or we can drop you off in another city e.g. Marrakech to Fes.
It is a ten hours’ drive from Marrakech, and seven hours’ drive from Fes, to the Erg Chebbi sand sea. If possible we recommend 4 days for a desert tour to break the journey each way and include one night in the desert i.e. on a 3-day trip you will be sitting in a vehicle for ten hours on one of the days. In two days these dunes are too far.
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