Visiting the Sahara

One of the highlights of a trip to Morocco is seeing the vast Saharan sand dunes and luxury camping under the stars. In Morocco, you have the choice between two broad areas where you can visit proper dunes; the Erg Chebbi dunes near Merzouga in the east of Morocco and the Erg Chigaga dunes to the south. Whilst each area is different in character, the choice of where to go often depends on how their location fits into the rest of your itinerary. Irrespective of which area is selected, there is nothing quite like watching the sun setting in the peace of the desert.

What’s there to do in the desert?

Plenty! Camel trekking, sand-boarding, guided walks, climbing the dunes, having lunch in shaded areas deep in the desert, visiting nomads, sundowners on the dunes and enjoying the evening’s informal music and drumming around the campfire. But for many, the ability to slow down, enjoy the vast empty vistas and step back for a moment to think and reflect, is what makes the trip to the desert so memorable.

Erg Chebbi or Erg Chigaga?

Erg Chebbi

Arguably the better known of the two sets of dunes, Erg Chebbi is the more established and as a consequence more developed.  Unlike Erg Chigaga, there is a paved road directly to Merzouga and the dunes. This ease of access has enabled the place to develop for both private independent tourism and tour buses. There are many places of interest en route, including  Ait Ben Haddou, Skoura and Dades and Todra gorges so it’s best to do the trip over 2 days and have time to enjoy the sights en route. There are a large number of camps at Erg Chebbi varying in standard, size and location. Please be advised that they don’t tend to be particularly isolated, so one may well hear the beat of another camp’s drums drifting across the dunes. This doesn’t necessarily spoil the experience, but it can take away from the wilderness feel. As a result of this we recommend staying at the few camps that remain in an isolated location. The bonus of Erg Chebbi is that it can be nicely fitted into an itinerary involving Marrakech and Fez, being located about half way between the two cities. Most visits to Erg Chebbi are for one night stays as opposed to two at Erg Chigaga.

Erg Chigaga

Erg Chigaga is located 9 hours south of Marrakech. It’s a vast desert region, a huge wilderness that can only be accessed in a 4×4. It is therefore completely off the beaten track, appealing to those seeking a real off-grid adventure and to experience the solitude of the desert. The weather can be calm and serene or wild and windy. But whatever the weather it feels like complete escapism. The journey to Erg Chigaga is fascinating, the trip along the Draa valley being 100 km of verdant oases. Time permitting, it is best to do the trip over two days, allowing time to visit numerous sites en route. These include Ait Ben Haddou, the Draa Valley, the pottery making town of Tamegoute (with its ancient koranic library) and hundreds of crumbling kasbahs. The camp is 60 km off-road from M’Hamid, through dried out lakes and rocks. Its location ensures there are no tour buses or mass tourism. Given the size of the area there are many different sets of dunes in Chigaga, the highest being similar in size to Chebbi. More often than not you can climb to the top of the dunes and see no one. A trip to Chigaga can also fit into the Marrakech to Fez circuit.

Erg Chigaga Luxury Desert Camp

Whilst we work with a number of camps in Erg Chebbi, we have been operating our own luxury desert camp (Erg Chigaga Luxury Desert Camp in Erg Chigaga since 2011. Should you chose to visit this area we will propose our own camp on most occasions. We have one of the best possible locations in Erg Chigaga. The camp is not ostentatious. Luxury to us means looking after your most immediate needs: providing you with a great night’s sleep; making sure you have a cold drink on a hot day, or simply providing you with attentive but discreet service.

Many people like to just unwind in the desert and we provide you with several chill-out areas where you can read your book, play a game or just daydream whilst lounging in a hammock. If you are feeling restless, there are plenty of activities.

Best of all your stay at the camp is on an all-inclusive basis including all meals, unlimited soft and alcoholic drinks as well as camel trekking and other activities (quad biking excluded).