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[[Image:Ksar_bicha_piscine_-pool.jpg2.jpg|thumb|200px|Ksar Bicha Hotel in Merzouga]]
[[Image:Ksar_bicha_piscine_-pool.jpg2.jpg|thumb|200px|Ksar Bicha Hotel in Merzouga]]
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Revision as of 19:16, 11 May 2009
Merzouga is a village in the Sahara Desert in Morocco, on the edge of Erg Chebbi, probably the most popular sand dunes in the country.
Merzouga is a village in the southeast of Morocco , and built near the largest erg (sand dune), a 50 km long (North/South) by 5 km wide swathe of sand that reaches a height of 350 m. As a result of these dunes, the village has developed into a popular tourist destination.
The local population is Arabs,blacks and Berber,very hospitable people who make visitors feel very 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 road to Merzouga has been asphalted and also to Taouz, 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 but well maintained. There is now an asphalt road to Hassi Lybed a smaller village - located about 4 km before reaching village of Merzouga.
Beware of guides in Rissani or Erfoud who offer to take you to Merzouga for 5 dihram each, but instead strand you at their auberge 20 km north of the village. If you decline their offers of camel rides and lodging, it is often quite difficult (and expensive) to make your way back to town.
From Rissani to Merzouga, a grand taxi or van is 10/12dh. If you don't want to wait for other people to fill your grand taxi, pay 60dh. If you arrive before sunrise (if you come in the 21hs bus from Fez) you can pay up to 100dh for a grand taxi to Rissani
You can also fly to Ouarzazate from Casablanca, then continue to Erfoud, Rissani and Merzouga.
There are also weekly flights into Errachadia- about 2 hours north of Merzouga by car.
Hike. There are no local buses. There are taxis from Merzouga and Hassi Lybed to Rissani and back, but they don't do other routes.
Tour operators can arrange 4x4s with driver/guides from Marrakech or Casablanca and back.
Sunrise/sunset over the dunes. Folk dances and black G'naui music. Visits to villages near Merzouga inhabited by Senegalese musicians and dancers such as Khamlia can be arranged with some guides, ask at your hotel.
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.
Camel train near Merzouga
Berber Children selling dolls in desert
- Overnight camel trips in the nearby Erg Chebbi (sand dunes).
- Sand skiing
- 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.
The camel option is the best option (more connected with the environment than the 4x4 and less effort than walking). All the hotels can arrange this trips, and they get a share from what you pay ...60% of tourist viiting Erg chebbi sand dunes do that at least once.
There are different excursions, spending 1, 2 or more nights in the desert. Most trips departing from Merzouga stop in the same oasis for the first night, so it may be crowded depending on the season. You will sleep in tents, with blanket-floors and your guide will cook dinner for you while you go to see the sunset (if you reach the top of the huge dune there, that is).
Then, if your excursion was 1 night, you will be woken up to see the sunrise (which is on the "other" side, so you don't have to climb the dune), drink tea and go back.
If you are going to stay one more night, you'll leave the oasis and continue.
Bear in mind:
- Prices are to be bargained hard, it has been reported that travellers payed between 300dh and 600dh/person/night. You lose face if you don't bargain.
- There are different options: Some hotels arrange large groups while others provide an intimate setting in an oasis in the dunes for just your party. What is described below appears to be for large groups...few hotels have their private bivouac/camp ...more quiet/peace such as hotel SAHARA only this hotel's clients spend nights there at the edge of a very big dune where you can sleep at night in summer under sky full of stars...do not need to get up early and climb to the top to see sun rise next morning.
- For some weird reason, sleeping 2 nights is more expensive. The reason is that Lunch is included if there is more than 1 night's travel. That explains the difference in price.
- Talk in advance what is included and what's not: food, water, blankets, how far are you going, etc.
- Each guide cooks for just his group, so if you want to eat something special, maybe you can pay a few dirhams more and have a tastier meal (standard is chicken tajine)Depends on your camel man.
- Auberge du Sud, Merzouga, Errachidia Morocco, ☎ +212.66121.6166 ([email protected], fax: +212.53557.8631), . hôtel located on the edge of Erg Chebbi Dunes. Swimming Pool Excellent service and accommodation. All rooms with fine quality and private bath-room. Bivouac and camel trekking on the dunes. from 15 Euros to 40 Euros per person depending of service and breakfast and diner included.
There are about 50 small hotels of varying categories along the sand dunes .
- Hotel Ksar Bicha Merzouga, merzouga desert (1 km before merzouga village), ☎ +212.535577113 ([email protected], fax: +212.535573410), . Hotel set in the sand dunes of Merzouga. Information on rooms, location, rates and dromedary excursions throughout the southern region of the country. The Riad provides professional services in Airport transfers between (Marrakech ,Errachidia, Ouarzazate, Fes )and Merzouga desert. journeys to other cities in the great south of Morocco.
- Merzouga Desert Hotel, merzouga desert (1 km before merzouga village), ☎ +212.535577113 ([email protected], fax: +212.535573410), . A friendly, family-run kasbah, this is the favourite base to see the Merzouga dunes of the Sahara desert Superbly located, right alongside the Merzouga sand dunes Fabulous views of the dunes from the roof terrace En suite rooms arranged around two pretty, plant-filled courtyards Accessible by picturesque routes from either Fez (7 hrs) or Skoura/Ouarzazate (5.5 hrs) Run by charming, extremely friendly Moroccan family, one of whom, Ali , has a degree in English ,french , spanish ,deutsch and italien. Traditional earth building with attractive features, simply furnished Responsibly managed and good value. Accommodation: Options to stay in either standard en suite rooms or suites Meals: Good quality Moroccan dishes. We quote for half board but lunches or picnics are available at very reasonable prices. Activities: Excursions to the dunes by camel or 4×4, with options of overnight stay in standard or luxury nomads' tents. One day trek with camels (walk or ride): departure around 9 a.m. to a small oasis where you will have lunch, return to the hotel after sunset in the sand dunes. For the more adventurous, camel treks of up to seven days' length may be arranged. As well as trips to the sand dunes, we recommend you visit the Marmar marble works near Erfoud, where a superb black fossiliferous rock is polished and sold. Bird-watchers will enjoy this area, especially the lake Serji, when it has water (usually in the winter). Click on this link for more information.
- Auberge Les Dunes D'or, Merzouga desert, ☎ +212 61350665 ([email protected], fax: +212 35577146), .
- Chez Julia, ☎ Tel 035 – 57 31 82 Mobil 070 – 18 13 60. Spotless clean, very friendly French/English/German speaking staff, great meals (tajines can be shared). From 130dh..
- Haven La Chance Desert Hotel, Hassi Lybed, ☎ ''+212'' 355-77269, 212 68599340 ([email protected]), . Modern, comfortable hotel right next to the sand dunes and palm trees. Most rooms are en-suite, Berber tents for the more adventurous. Singles / doubles with in-suite toilet and shower. The owners also run a tour company that can organize tours around Morocco for individuals, families and small groups. €25-50 with half board.
- Auberge Sahara Hotel Swimming Pool and Bivouac, Ksar Hassi labiad.Merzouga 52202 (Tel/fax:0021235577039), ☎ Mobile:0021266766355 ([email protected], fax: +212.3557.7303), . Clean hotel in a oasis at the edge of erg chebbi sand dunes run by flexible staff offering to guests different kinds of lodging depending of their choices and budgets(basic rooms,double rooms, suites,berber tents,terrace,...)swimming pool,restaurant, parking for free and camping place under palm trees.Many different desert activities are also organized such as:camel trips,trekking,tours by 4x4 around erg chebbi sand dunes,tours to the lake,villages,oasis,...
- Desert Fish, ☎ ''+212 72085113. Right next to the sand dunes. A bivouac with a space to eat and relax and very nice, comfortable Berber tents. The place is managed by some very friendly, young boys. The Berber tents are nice and clean, there are three good showers, the food is good, they play live Gnaoua music after dinner.
- Morocco Sahara, El Bourki Lhou, Hassilabied, Merzouga, ☎ ''+212 15605886 ([email protected]), . Made-to-measure camel trekking and tours of the dunes and wadis, sleeping in furnished traditional Berber tents. Camel tours of from 1 to 8 days and more, in groups or individually with a sensitive and knowledgable guide/camel driver from a traditional nomad family. Sleep in Berber and Tuareg encampments or in seclusion. Tailored service. Comfortable clean tents, some with sprung mattress beds. Great traditional food.
- Auberge Oasis (blid), (hassi labiad), ☎ 0021261739041, . 15€.
- merzouga desert (hotel merzouga), BP 40 merzouga (ali), ☎ +21266506481, . sand dunes of Merzouga. Information on rooms, location, rates and dromedary excursions throughout the southern region of the country The Riad provides professional services in Airport transfers between (Marrakech, Errachidia, Ouarzazate, Fes )and Merzouga desert. journeys to other cities in the great south of Morocco. edit 30€.
- Dar el Khamlia, Merzouga, Ksar Khamlia (Erg Chebbi), ☎ +212 70 914 351 ([email protected]), . Dar el Khamlia is not far from Merzouga. Offer a lodging for them who like to be more near the local people. Comfortable rooms, meals incl. Camel trekking into dunes, excursions by 4x4, pick up at airport Errachidia, Ouarzazate or Marrakesh.
- Auberge du Sud, Merzouga, Errachidia Morocco, ☎ +212.66121.6166 ([email protected], fax: +212.3557.8631), . hôtel located on the edge of Erg Chebbi Dunes. Excellent service and accommodation. All rooms with fine quality and private bath-room. Bivouac and camel trekking on the dunes. from 15 Euros to 40 Euros per person depending of service and breakfast and diner included.
- Nasser Palace, Ksar Hassilabied - Merzouga, Province d'Errachidia - Morocco, ☎ +212.7078.0028 ([email protected], fax: +212.3557.8010), . Nasser Palace is a hotel with swimming pool and spa located on the dunes of Merzouga. 20 rooms with private toilettes, bivouac and camel trekkings on Sahara dunes. from 25 Euros to 45 Euros per person depending of service - breakfast and diner included.
- Auberge Berberes, Ras el Erg Chebbi, Merzouga, Sahara Desert - Morocco, ☎ +212(0)68 10 31 78 ([email protected]), . Auberge Berberes is located right where the dunes of Erg Chebbi start. From here as you jump out the front door you’ll be climbing the dunes. Auberge Berberes offers Single Rooms, Double Rooms, Triple Rooms and Berber Tents in Sahara. from 20 Euros to 30 Euros per person depending of service - breakfast and diner included.
- Hotel Yasmina, Ras Erg Chebbi - Merzouga, Sahara Desert Morocco, ☎ +212.3557.6783 ([email protected], fax: +212.3577.4071), . Yasmina is located right on the bottom of the dunes of Erg Chebbi, more precisely in "ras al-erg" which mean in the head of the dunes, the dunes of Erg Chebbi. Yasmina has one of the best views for the dunes, as it is settled on the top a a hill, surrounded by a lake and sand dunes. The best spot in Merzouga. Accommodation, Desert Tents, Camel Trekking, Restaurant, Swimming Pool. from 20 Euros to 45 Euros per person depending of service - breakfast and diner included.
- Les Portes du Desert, Ras el Erg Chebbi, Merzouga, Sahara Desert - Morocco, ☎ +21267611303 ([email protected], fax: +212.35577930), . The entire hotel is decorated with great sensibility blending various styles of décor, from Arabesque to Andaluse to a mixture of European style in its practical conception and comfort. Accommodation, Desert Tents, Camel Trekking, Restaurant, Swimming Pool. The Hotel is located right on the dunes of Erg Chebbi and you can easily arrive by car as you have asphalt road all the way to the hotel passing Erfoud, Rissani and Merzouga. from 26 Euros to 50 Euros per person depending of service - breakfast and diner included.