Saturday, January 06, 2007

The sand dunes of Morocco - Merzouga & Erg Chebbi

Just 500 kilometres from Fez are some of the most spectacular sand dunes in the world. The place to head to is Merzouga and the dunes of Erg Chebbi.

Erg Chebbi. Photo Suzanna Clarke

If you decide to drive yourself, be aware that approaching Merzouga you will be traveling through hammada or stony desert and it it just that - kilometres of desert with lots of stones. Careful driving and carrying plenty of water is an absolute must. If you have any concerns, get a local driver as the roads can quickly vanish under sand during storms and at times visibility can be reduced to zero. Getting lost in this part of the world is not a joke.

Merzouga floods - Photo

Although it is a rare event, this part of the world can flood and has done so as recently as May last year - with devastating results. The lesson here is, keep an eye on the weather and be prepared.

Over the years it has been difficult to get good accommodation in Merzouga, but now that is all changing. A number of hotels have sprung up around the fringes of the dunes and although they are of varying quality, they are a vast improvement on the previously basic conditions. In the nearby town of Rissani (34 km from the dunes), you will find the wonderful Hôtel Kasbah Asmaa and on the outskirts of Erfoud (55 km from the dunes) the Kasbah Xaluca Maadid.

Kasbah Xaluca

Around the actual dunes you will find the Auberge Berberes, Auberge Sahara, Auberge du Sud, Haven La Chance, Hotel Yasmina, Kasbah Erg Chebbi, Ksar Sania, Les Flamants Rose, Les Portes du Desert, Nasser Palace and the Wilderness Lodge.

For a quick location check and more general information take a look at the interactive Google Earth map here: Merzouga Map.



Liosliath said...

That Merzouga flood photo was from here, you'd better credit the poor folks over at Gepetto! ;)

Anonymous said...

Have done. Thanks L.

Liosliath said...

Do you have any news on rebuilding efforts that you could post? I keep bugging Hamou about it, but he's suffering miserably from the cold this year (per your other story on Amesgou!) and cares very little for the problems of other tourist destinations...

Anonymous said...

The real sand dunes are in Algeria, anyone who has been to the Grand Erg Occidental knows that Merzouga can't hold a candle to them!

Liosliath said...

Anonymous, this blog is about Morocco, in case you haven't noticed. It's silly to compare sand dune sites, because they're all unique and beautiful. What about the Sossuvlei Dunes in Namibia?