Merzouga is a village in the Sahara Desert, Morocco, next to the Erg Chebbi sand dunes.
This is the biggest erg in Morocco, about 50 km long (North/South) by 5 km wide, and is a popular tourist location. The highest dunes, next to Merzouga, reach 350 m in height.
Merzouga is the biggest village in the region, although there are a number of smaller villages in the surrounding area. The local population is almost entirely Berber, a most hospitable people who make visitors welcome.
From Marrakech, drive East to Erfoud (2 days drive, stop for the night in or near Ouarzazate). From Fez, drive South to Erfoud (1 day). From Erfoud, continue South 14 km (11 miles) to Rissani, carry on through the village and follow the road South-East 40 km (24 miles) to Merzouga. In recent years, the roads have been asphalted to Merzouga and on to Tauz, a southern military border town. The short access roads (1 or 2 km long) from the main road to the hotels alongside the sand dunes are normally not asphalted
You can also fly to Ouarzazate from Casablanca, then continue to Erfoud, Rissani and Merzouga.
Rent a quad (sand-buggy) or a 4x4. Hike. There are no local busses. There are taxis from Merzouga to Rissani and back, but they don't do other routes.
Tour operators can arrange 4x4s or SUVs with driver/guides from Marrakech or Casablanca and back.
Sunrise/sunset over the dunes. Folk dances and black G'naui music.
See the ducks, and in early spring, flamingos, on the Dayet Srji salt lake, just West of Merzouga. There are many other species of birds (ruddy sheldrack and Kittllitz's plower during the spring migration, Tristram's desert warbler, the Egyptian nightjar, the arabian buzzard and falcons), and the desert sparrows are unique to this region and can be seen all year round.
There are also reptiles (algerian sand lizards, berber skinks and snakes), mammals such as gerbils, desert hedgehogs, field mice and desert foxes, and scarab beetles. In the morning, you can often see their tracks in the sand. Brown scorpions can occasionally be seen, but they come out at night and tend to avoid humans.
Overnight camel trips in the nearby Erg Chebbi sand dunes. Hiking. Hire a 4x4 and drive around the dunes. Visits can be arranged to Berber homes to see how they live, watch them prepare home-made bread and cous-cous or tagines, eat with them and drink mint tea.
Berber rugs, jewellery, antiques, from the local Berber co-operatives, where they will gladly explain their history and the symbology of the designs on the rugs.
Note: All food is made to order from local fresh products, and takes time to prepare.
- Mechui (baby lamb roast in an adobe oven. Needs to be arranged for a minimum of 10 people)
- tagines (many types)
- fresh salads.
There are a couple of small restaurants in the center of Merzouga, but most restaurants are in hotels.
See also visits to eat in Berber homes, in things to do.
Mint tea, mint tea and mint tea!
There are about 50 small hotels of varying categories along the sand dunes and in Hassi Lybed, about 4 km from Merzouga.
- Haven La Chance Hotel, Hassi Lybed, Tel: +212 355-77269, e-mail: [email protected] This is a modern, comfortable hotel with in-suite toilets and showers in most rooms, and Berber tents for the more adventurous. Singles / doubles with in-suite toilet and shower start from 25 € / 50 € with half board.
The owners also run a tour company that can organise tours around Morocco for individuals, families and small groups.
If you have a vehicle, drive back to Marrakech, Fez, Casablanca, etc, or continue your tour of Morocco.
If you don't have a vehicle, you didn't get here!
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