Camel Trekking in Erg Chebbi
Erg Chebbi Camel Treks and Desert Camps
Camel trek through the dunes of the Erg Chebbi sand sea and sleep under the stars in a deep desert or luxury desert camp. If you have a rental car we can meet you in Rissani and accompany you to the dunes; if not, book a Private Desert Tour from Marrakech, Fes etc.
Camel Trekking through the Erg Chebbi Dunes Merzouga
The dunes of the Erg Chebbi sand sea are spectacular, especially at sunrise and sunset. The dunes are possibly the highest in Morocco and change colour during the day, taking on a reddish hue at sunset when the shadows lengthen. It is possible to safely camel trek, led by a desert guide, through the dunes to overnight under the stars in a desert camp – a deep camp or luxury camp. There is also the option of sleeping in a hotel with pool at the dune line.
Erg Chebbi sits on the hammada (flat black desert) and along the dune line are hotels and the Berber villages of Hassilabed, Merzouga and Khamlia. On the far side of the dunes live Berber Desert Families with their herds of camels, goats and sheep. The Desert Families live a simple life on the desert floor where water has to be collected in bottles with a donkey from one of the potable wells.
If you are driving a rental car we can meet you in Rissani. If you prefer not to drive in Morocco we can organize a private Desert Tour from Marrakech, Fes or elsewhere on request.
A Desert Tour to Erg Chebbi includes many highlights along the route e.g. the Atlas mountains, World Heritage Site of Ait Benhaddou, Kelaa Mgouna (also known as Rose Valley), Dades and Todra gorges, cedar forests where Barbary Macaques live, Azrou and Ifrane.
Quick Links for Sahara Desert Trips and Morocco Camel Treks
- Erg Chebbi Dunes (Merzouga) and how to reach them
- Desert Villages of Merzouga, Hassilabed and Khamlia
- What to do and What to see in Erg Chebbi
- Sand Boards and Dune Buggies
- Overnight Erg Chebbi Camel Treks – What to Expect
- Luxury Desert Camp Erg Chebbi
- Organised Sahara Excursions and Erg Chebbi Camel Treks
- Morocco Tours – Prices, Confirmation and Payment Options
The Erg Chebbi Dunes
Of all the deserts in Morocco, the Erg Chebbi close to the Berber village of Merzouga, is probably the highest and most easily accessible because a paved road runs from Rissani to Merzouga and beyond. 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.
The Erg Chebbi can be reached in a rental car or with public transport due to the paved road that runs to Mergouga and beyond. To reach the dune line, from the paved road, is a small section of unpaved road (piste) that should be driven across with care due to ruts and sand drifts.
If you have limited time, and prefer not to drive in Morocco, hiring a vehicle with driver is a relaxed way to travel. Local drivers know the routes and, if you have the time, it is possible to ‘get off the beaten track’ to experience the hospitality and traditional lifestyle of the Berbers.
Desert Villages of Merzouga, Hassilabed and Khamlia
Three Berber villages lie along one side of the Erg Chebbi sand sea: Merzouga, Hassilabed and Khamlia. Merzouga and Hassilabed are sizeable, and growing, with a palmerie area and gardens where crops are grown e.g. dates, cereals, mint and alfalfa. Khamlia, once the smallest of the three villages, is also expanding towards Merzouga.
In the region are two seasonal lakes, a favourite spot for migrating birds in Spring, when Dayet Srji flamingos may be seen.
Tourism is important to the area i.e. hotels, cafes, small shops, camel treks and quad bikes; many young men make a living by selling fossils, which are locally mined and polished, to tourists in the dunes at sunrise and sunset. However there is another side to these villages and, in summer months, they fill with Moroccans who come here to bury themselves in the sand. Sand bathing is a traditional treatment for rheumatism and arthritis and, along with the sand bathers, come the street traders and the villages transform into a bustling desert experience.
What to do and What to see in Erg Chebbi
- Search for a fossil in the fossil beds near Erfoud
- Listen to Gnawa musicians in the village of Khamlia as they twirl to the rhythms of the desert
- Visit Merzouga or Hassiladed to watch the world pass by as you sip mint tea
- Visit the Souk in Rissani and the Apothecary for spices and saffron
- Camel trekking in Erg Chebbi
- Walk through palm grove gardens where crops are grown
- Visit the seasonal lakes in spring if the rains arrive and perhaps see flamingos
- 4×4 desert safari to explore the Erg Chebbi environment
Sand Boards and Dune Buggies/Quad Bikes
Sand Boards are available for local hire. However no instruction is given and no safety clothing is provided. It is a dangerous sport and you are advised to consider the risks of hiring boards without a helmet. Falling on sand can be akin to falling on concrete and you should ensure your Travel Insurance will cover you in the event of a broken bone.
Dune buggies are available for local hire and you will be accompanied by a desert guide to ensure you do not get lost. Please consider other people who may be visiting the desert for peace and tranquility.
Overnight Erg Chebbi Camel Treks – What to Expect
Meet your desert guide and camel trek in the late afternoon, before and/or during sunset, to a deep desert camp – 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 the nomad-tended desert camp, where the tents are traditionally made of thick goat/sheep/camel 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 high dune and, in the pre-dawn stillness, wait for the sunrise. Return camel trek back across the dunes to shower and breakfast before departure.
Longer Erg Chebbi camel treks are available for 2nights or longer.
Erg Chebbi Luxury Desert Camp
Our luxury desert camp consists of five ensuite bedroom tents and one dining tent. The bedroom tents are raised off the sand for your comfort. 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 section of off-road driving across the sand, or ride camels to the camp. In the morning your driver will pick you up.
*For more information: ’Erg Chebbi Luxury Desert Tours’
Sahara Excursions and Erg Chebbi Camel Treks
Organised Sahara Desert Excursions run from Marrakech, Marrakech to Fes, Fes to Fes and Fes to Marrakech. Tours can start and end elsewhere on request i.e. Casablanca, Tangier, Agadir.
The Erg Chebbi is a 10hrs drive from Marrakech and a 6hrs drive from Fes. We recommend at least:
- 4days for a Marrakech to Marrakech Desert Tour and 5days to slow down the pace
- 3days for a Marrakech to Fes Desert Tour and 4days to slow down the pace
- 3days for a Fes to Marrakech Desert Tour and 4days to slow down the pace
- 2days for a Fes to Fes Desert Tour and 3days to slow down the pace
*For more information on Desert Tour options in Morocco: ‘Desert Tours in Morocco’
Morocco Tours – Prices, Confirmation and Payment
Please refer to: ‘Private Morocco Tours – Pricing’. However please note that the price of a private tour is based on the number of days you have, how many people you are, the level of accommodation required and what you would like to do and see. Each tour is custom made to best match your requirements and do not hesitate to contact us for a quote with no obligation.
To read our clients’ feedback please refer to: ’Testimonials’