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Merzouga

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Revision as of 01:34, 3 July 2008


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Street in Merzouga

Merzouga is a village in the Sahara Desert in Morocco.


Understand

Merzouga is a village in the southeast of morocco , and built near the largest erg (sand dune), 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.

Get in

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.

Get around

Rent a quad (sand-buggy) or a 4x4. Hike. There are no local busses. There are taxis from Merzouga and Hassi Lybed 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.


If you need any kind of help contact Hassan on [email protected]

See

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.

Do

Erg Chebbi
Camel train near Merzouga
Berber Children selling dolls in desert
  • Overnight camel trips in the nearby Erg Chebbi (sand dunes).
  • Hiking.
  • Hire a 4x4 and drive around the dunes.
  • Camping
  • 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.

Visit the Sahara

For day or overnight trips to the sahara you have 3 main options:

  • 4x4
  • Walk
  • Camels (dromedaries)

By camel

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.

Take in mind:

  • Prices are to be bargained hard, it has been reported that travellers payed between 300dh and 600dh/person/night. You loose 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.

Buy

  • Fossils: Most of them are fake, e.g. hand-carved out of soft (mostly black) stone. People will tell you they're real in any case.
  • vases, plates, bowls, wine goblets, tables, ashtrays,
  • Berber rugs, jewelery, antiques, can be purchased at the local Berber co-operatives - ask for an explanation regarding the history and the meaning of the rug designs.
  • Geodes (stone-balls with crystals on the inside) come in various colours, many of them are artifially added. If the color is unnaturally intensive, it's a fake.

Drink

  • Mint tea
  • Bottled water

Sleep

There are about 50 small hotels of varying categories along the sand dunes and in Hassi Lybed, about 4 km from Merzouga.

  • Hotel Ksar Bicha Merzouga, merzouga desert, +212 35577113 (, fax: +212 35573410), [1].
  • Ksar bicha hotel, Tel: +212 35577113 (fax: +212 35573410, [email protected]). Offers the best true desert experience. Treks include all meals, desert bivouac with mattresses and bedding, camels!, and guide,4×4 and quad excursion.
  • Auberge Les Dunes D'or, Merzouga desert, +212 61350665 (, fax: +212 35577146), [2].
  • Merzouga Bivouac and camel trekking, 5202 merzouga maroc, +212 35577113 (, fax: +212 35577113), [3].
  • 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 Hotel, Hassi Lybed, ''+212'' 355-77269, 212 68599340 (). 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 €25-50 with half board. The owners also run a tour company that can organise tours around Morocco for individuals, families and small groups.


  • SAHARA Hotel and Bivouac ([email protected]), Ksar Hassi labiad.Merzouga 52202 (Tel/fax:0021235577039), Mobile:0021266766355, [4]. Clean hotel in a oasis at the edge of erg chebbi sand dunes run by flexible staff offering to guests differents kinds of lodging depending of their choices and budgets(basic rooms,double rooms, suites,berber tents,terrasse,...)swimming pool,restaurant ,prking for free and camping place uner palm trees. Many different desert activities are also organised such as:cameltrips,trekking,tours by 4x4 around erg chebbi sand dunes,tours tothe lake,villages,oasis,...




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