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Sahara: The great Moroccan Desert

Trip to the Moroccan Deserts

If you are looking for an adventurous holiday in Morocco, plan a visit to the southern and eastern areas below the Atlas Mountains, where the Moroccan deserts begin.

The desert region is extremely scenic and distinctive offering spectacular sights like deep gorges and canyons, stony desert landscape, impressive earth architecture and above all the magnificent Saharan sand dunes.

A trip to the beautiful Moroccan deserts is full of adventure. You can enjoy the camel rides on the splendid Saharan sand dunes or spend the night spent under the stars in beautiful Bedouin tents. Admire the incredible architecture of the ancient Kasbahs which are still standing strong guarding the old trading routes.

 

Where are the deserts in Morocco?

The deserts in Morocco lie to the south and east of the Atlas Mountains. The climate in this region is very hot and dry. The vast desert area is scarcely populated and contains very few settlements and even lesser number of urban centres.

The Moroccan desert region is completely different from the cities and coastal areas which are located in the Northern areas of Morocco.

The Sahara desert in Morocco is made up of so-called Hamada, rocky, barren plateaus with little or no sand. The harsh strong winds blowing in the desert areas blow away any sand, leaving behind big rocks and boulders.

 

Places to visit in the Moroccan Desert region

A large part of Morocco is covered by the Sahara desert. But most of the desert region in Morocco is flat and rocky. To enjoy the real desert with swelling golden sand dunes, you should plan a visit to the “ergs”. Ergs are the areas of shifting sand dunes in the Sahara desert in Morocco. These are the areas which will give you the real experience of enjoying sand dunes and the desert landscape.

To enjoy the beauty of the Saharan desert dunes in Morocco, Erg Chebbi and Erg Chigaga are the best places to visit. Both places are located in the remote south/southeastern desert region beyond the Atlas mountain range.

These areas are one of the most remote places in Morocco and require a significant journey from the common access points in Morocco like Marrakech, Fes or Taroudant.

 

Erg Chebbi

Erg Chebbi is around 10 hours drive from Marrakech Erg Chebbi is around 22km long and 5-10km wide. It is the smaller of the 2 Ergs but its dunes are high and reach a height of up to 150 meters. The gateway town to the Erg Chebbi dunes in Merzouga, it is just 1 km away from Erg Chebbi. It takes around a 10-hour drive from Marrakech to reach Merzouga. Travellers can stay at Merzouga and can walk down to Erg Chebbi which is just a few minutes away. This easy accessibility makes the dunes of Erg Chebbi very popular with tourists.

Erg Chigaga

Erg Chigaga is larger than Erg Chebbi; it is 40km long and 10-15km wide. The dunes are as high as 120 meters. Bedouin Arabs have been known to occupy these dunes in the past. M’Hamid is the nearest town to Erg Chigaga and is 60km away. Tourists staying at hotels or campsites in M’Hamid will take a few hours if travelling by a 4×4 to reach the Erg.  A camel trek to the Erg Chigaga will take to 2-3 days to reach.

Since Erg Chigaga is not as accessible as Erg Chebbi, it is advisable to plan the trip through an experienced tour operator, who can arrange the transport and accommodation.

More easily accessible Desert Places in the main region

If you do not wish to travel far and are short on time, but still want to experience the beauty of the Deserts in Morocco mainland, below are a few places which can visit:

  • Ouarzazate– This is the biggest desert town is less than 5 hours from Marrakech. Towns like Skoura or Ait Benhaddou are nearby and you can stay there while visiting Ouarzazate.
  • Ait Benhaddou– It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is just 30 min drive from Ouarzazate.  This beautiful town houses some of the best conserved Kasbahs in Morocco. The beauty and the traditional set up of the town make it a very popular film shooting destination. The film studios are also in the vicinity and are worth a visit.
  • Skoura – Skoura is a beautiful oasis and is just 45 min drive to the northeast of Ouarzazate The place is peaceful and surrounded by tall palms. The place houses some very ancient, ruined Kasbahs.
  • The Dades Valley and Gorge – The Dades Valley starts to the east of Skoura. This stunning place has varied and colourful landscapes and is famous for its “Valley of the Roses” and “Valley of a Thousand Kasbahs”. The spectacular and remarkable Todra Gorgelies further east to the Dades Valley.

Can I travel independently to the Sahara Desert in Morocco?

The choice to travel independently or through a tour operator to Morocco is entirely dependent on your personal preference. If you like travelling alone and are familiar with French and Arabic, you can travel independently with the help of travel books.

However, if you wish to travel to the desert regions to view the sand dunes, it is advisable not to travel unassisted. If you do not wish to travel in a group tour, you can always avail services for a private tour, where a dedicated guide can help you can learn more about the Moroccan culture and tell you more about the hidden gems and places of the country.

Do Yamina Tours organize trips to the Moroccan Desert?

Yes, Yamina tours organize both group tours and private tours to the Moroccan Desert. If you wish to travel solo, you can discover Fabulous Morocco with our private guides and a customized itinerary.

We also have tours to Erg Chiba and Erg Chigaga. All our tours and packages are customizable. You can also contact us on+12028486666 or email us at contact@yaminatours.com to create your private tour or know about our tour packages.

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