Merzouga (Sahara Morocco), a golden gem in the southeastern Morrocco. A gateway to Erg Chebbi, 50km long and 5km wide set of dunes, near Algerian borders.
The whole area is surrounded by oasis and palm trees, which blows the observer’s mind. Merzouga gains its significance throughout history and still does with the high tourist visits rates.
Berbers are the official inhabitants of this small village. While wandering in the dunes, it is normal to encounter Berber tents, most of them are nomads. This will gives you the opportunity to savor the ancient Berber traditions, and locals might even invite you for a cup of tea.
Merzouga is scorching hot during summer; the temperature might reach 45 degrees Celsius. Which is the opposite during winter it is dramatically cold and especially at night. The sandstorms of the seasonal wind often plague march and April.
Therefore it is recommended to consider traveling from October to February when the daytime temperature is clement and temperate. Merzouga is the ideal place to stargazing upon the sky at night. Nights are very quiet in Merzouga, the stars and the moon are clear and sparkling. If you ever decided to come to Marrakech, do not miss the opportunity to create memorable experiences in Merzouga.
Activities to Delight in Merzouga (Sahara desert)
1. Camping in Merzouga:
Camping is one of the common activities to consider while traveling to Merzouga. There are plenty of camping agencies in Merzouga, book as many nights as you want, they take care of everything and with warming hospitality. Good food, fire to warm up, and melodic ancient Berber music at night.When spending the night in the sands of Merzouga, you will feel an emotional connection between you and the Berber culture. The tents are called Khaima, the main houses of Berber nomads.Tourists from different countries gather together in the camping area, which offers an opportunity to get to know people from all over the world.Share cultures and one’s individual stories. Those camps are ideally designed for people who delight the silence and quietness of nature. Venture off to the desert and create these unforgettable experiences.
2. Sahara ATV Quad Adventure in Erg-Chebbi Sand Dunes:
Quad riding is one of the main activities to do in Merzouga. You can ride quad as much as you want. It’s an exciting activity to undergo while you visit Merzouga, an opportunity to delight the sunset in the evening while driving around the palm trees.
3. Visiting Nomad Tent:
No trip to the Sahara desert would be complete without visiting a traditional Nomad village. And no trip is perfect without discovering local’s ethnicity and their way of survival. People in Merzouga are very friendly and generous there. They would love to have a conversation with you. The simplicity of life in Merzouga attracts numerous travelers around the world.
4. Camel trek in Merzouga :
Camel trek is one of the numerous exciting activities one can delight. Many people offer camel treks,you can ride as much as you can and whenever you can. The ride trek will take you till the highest dunes of Erg Chebbi.
5. Visit an oasis in Merzouga:
While staying in a desert camp, nothing can be more exciting than visiting one of the oasis nearest you. The fascinating Oasis is located in Erg Chebbi. The beauty of oasis gives you good impressions and a strong connection between you and nature. Do not forget to capture the moment whenever possible.
6. Sandboarding in Merzouga:
One common activity in Merzouga is sandboarding. The soft and fluid dunes make the perfect environment for sandboarding. Rent sandboard and immerse your self in the enormity of the desert. You will find many rental sandboarding locals.
Step Away From Sightseeing, Just Have Some Exotic Food :
The trip is incomplete without having a local Moroccan meal in Merzouga. Although it seems unusual to find restaurants in the desert, there are many traditional food shops around which offer the best Moroccan meals.
And if you are camping somewhere in the desert. The responsible chef takes care of everything.
The meals in Merzouga are marinated with different aromatic spices. A food that is slowly cooked in clay pots that carefully placed every meal inside like beef, lamb, chicken, and the seasoning that create a flavorful aroma in the process.
Red meat and chicken are usually eaten in Tagines with wide selections of vegetables. Spices are used extensively in Morrocan cuisine, which indeed gives it a unique taste and flavor. Those meals are mainly served with mint tea. It is usually heavily sweetened with sugar chipped off a sugar cone.
There are other activities arranged by the people there like teaching cooking lessons to tourists to have an idea about Moroccan meals. Visiters are enjoying this activity.
Top most Attractions in Merzouga
A small village located northwest of Merzouga is famous for its huge rocky valleys that welcome enthusiastic rock climbers from all over the world. It is surrounded by palm groves covering more than 30 kilometers and hundreds of abandoned clay kasbahs.To get to Tinerhir, consider taking a bus or taxi. The road trip usually takes 3 hours. If you have a rental car, just take the N13 highway heading north from the desert city until you reach Rissani. From there, follow the N12 highway west. Once you reach Al-Nif, take Route 113 north and you will arrive in Tinerhir shortly after.
2. Lake of Merzouga:
The lake of Merzouga or Dayet srij is located in west 2 km away from the center of Merzouga. It is well known for the diversity of birds like Flamingos, ducks, and groves. It is recommended to go during the evening; the sunset is stunning by that time.
Nearby places in Merzouga
1. Moulay Ali Cherif Mausoleum:
The tomb of Moualaya Ali Cherif is located in the Rissani. Moulay Ali Cherif is the founder of the present Alawite dynasty. His ancestor Sidi Mohammed ben Abdellah built the Mausoleum. The place contains the tombs of Moulay Ali al-Sharif and his sons Moulay Mohamed, Moulay Youssef, Sidi Lahib ben Zine El Abidine Ben Moulay Ismail, and Moulay Rachid Ben Sidi Mohamed Ben Abderrahmane. The Architecture of the Mausoleum features an ornate gate with an entrance to the large hall that houses the tombs. It is characterized by the spacious courtyard and a balcony with a dome.
2. Musee nomad or nomad palace:
Nomad Palace is an attractive oasis in the middle of the desert, rustic and rough-hewn but still clean, well-furnished, and pleasingly designed. The structure of the walls shows the creativity of the people who built it. Book a room in advance, and hosts will take care of everything, food, activities, and excursions. Get yourself a magical experience, full of sensations, colors, smells, and tastes.
3. Souk Rissani:
Get yourself a break from the solitude of the desert and venture off to the Medina, experience the ancient Berber culture to its extent. The souks are busy with traditional artisanal sellers, animals, and traditional food. Get yourself and your family or friends a souvenir from there.
4. Erg Chebbi:
The most iconic and huge dunes sea in Morocco and it is formed by windblown sand. The sand is extraordinarily scenic and golden. Erg Chebbi rises to 150 meters from the surrounding rocky areas.The highest rates of tourist visits have led to the erg sometimes being referred to as “dunes of Merzouga”.One common activity by local travelers and foreign travelers is the burial of the body in the sand usually practiced during summer. Which aims to warm up the body, and many take this activity as a meditation for rheumatism.
How to get to Merzouga
From Marrakech, the trip will take you about 10 hours, more than 560 kilometers, that cuts through a precarious section of the High Atlas mountains and then past deep ravines.
It is recommended to take breaks and spend a night or two in nearby hotels. The roads are a bit dangerous, narrow, and twisted; one must be careful. Or you can get there with a group of people, mainly tourists in a bus called supratours ( arranged tours), this way is helpful and safe.
It usually departs from 8 mornings and arrive at Merzouga at 8h30 morning and arrives at 21h30 night. If you take a local bus, you might have several stops to change buses that take to Merzouga. There is also the possibility to rent a taxi to go directly to Merzouga.
From Fez, there are three ways to get from Fes to Merzouga by taxi, bus, train, car, and flight. The cheapest way of traveling from Fes to Merzouga is a combination of taxies, buses, and trains, which takes around 9h 45m.
If you don’t have a car, consider taking a bus or taxi. The distance between Merzouga and Fes is 337 km. The road distance is 479 km. If you are concerned about arriving there faster, book a flight which is the quickest way from Errachidia airport.