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What to do in Merzouga desert Morocco

4 days tour from Fes to Merzouga

The dunes of Merzouga and other nearby oases

At 35 km from Rissani, 50 km from Erfoud and 130 from Errachidia, along the N-13 road, is this impressive dune complex called Er Chebbi. Read more about what to do in merzouga desert in this article.

It is an area with sandy “erg” and stone “hamada” deserts. There are channels of dry rivers on which oases follow each other in which population nuclei are installed. The Erg Chebbi is the most accessible and therefore the best known of the small ergs. It is located between the massif of Taouz and the hamada (rocky desert).

It is about 20 km long and 5 km wide, and some of its pyramidal dunes exceed a hundred meters in height. The sand of its dunes has the typical orange color of Saharan sands and is composed almost exclusively of quartz grains.

It is located to the west next to the low valley of the Ziz, where the river emanating from the Atlas mountain range is swallowed by the desert sands, occasionally floods and lagoons take place. It’s one of the top things to do in Merzouga, standing out during the rainy season (between February and March), the lagoon of Daya Tamda lies 3 km to the west where birds such as the pink flamingo abound. To the east, there is the stony hamada that extends to ‘Algeria.

Next to the dunes, surrounded by palm trees, there are three villages: Hassi Labied, to the east, which is distinguished by its palm grove, 5 km to the south is Merzouga, which has grown in recent years thanks to the development of this type of tourism and agriculture, and Khemliya, 6 km, south of the previous one, which is characterized by its ancient black African population, quiet and warm people, with customs different from the rest of the country, especially their famous Gnawa folklore.

what to do in merzouga desert morocco

What to see in Merzouga

Merzouga is one of the most important tourist sites in Morocco for Sahara and adventure tourism, with a huge offer of hotels, hostels and Riads.

It is a very well organized destination with offers of excursions in the dunes, in dromedaries, 4×4, quad.

Beautiful tourist camps have been set up in the palm groves of the interior, where you can eat with a show and spend the nights in the sand with a typical dinner and music, with the comfort of a hotel watching the sunrise. There are many fossils in the area. They belong to the Upper Cretaceous and remains of dinosaurs, crocodiles, turtles and fish have been found.

Its fauna is exotic, with birds in the lagoon area, reptiles such as the spiny lizard, horned viper and sand viper and mammals such as gerbils, hedgehogs and desert foxes.

To sleep, among the quality establishments, you will find at the foot of the dunes, the hotels most of the time of 3* or lower, located near the road, next to the dunes and in the area of the villages.

You will find in particular the hotels Timbuktu, Merzouga, the Kasbah Erg Chebbi, the Valleys of the Dunes, Sahara, Kanz Erremal, Kasbah Mohayut and Camel Trekking. There are also Bivouacs, hotels in the typical stores of the Sahara. The best known are Bivouac Merzouga Tours, Radaoin, Sahara. In Khemlya you will also find good accommodations, such as the Nomad Palace 3 *, the Kasbah house Khemlia and Ksar Khemlia. See Khamilya hotels.

To eat, the classic Café Nora…

Other attractions:

International music festival and the Sadaka festival of Gnawa music.

International sports events: Africa Merzouga Rally, Titan Desert cycling race, the Merzouga Marathon and the Marathon de Sables.

Excursions

Ten kilometers to the east are the Mfis mines, once used as work camps by the French.
Here the famous kohl was obtained from ground galena powder used in cosmetics.

Taouz

To the south, by the asphalt road N-13, after 25 km, is this oasis in the middle of the hamada, next to the dry bed of the river Ziz, inhabited by the Aït Khebbache, belonging to the confederation of the Aït Atta, nomads of the plains of the Ziz and the Maider.
It was a garrison of the French Foreign Legion, today a local administrative center, with a military surveillance station at the Algerian border located 20 km away.

This small village is composed of adobe houses and offers all services.

Nearby is Jebel Ouafilal, a black rock formation where the old iron mines of Taghalouit are located.

It is a place of passage and rest on the Saharan roads, although without quality accommodation.

Tracks to Zagora

Ouzina

From Taouz there is a track for 4×4 vehicles heading west, which follows the Ziz valley until reaching this oasis, 30 km away, located between dark and arid mountains and surrounded by golden dunes, it is a spectacular Saharan landscape.
It has charming hotels (Kasbah Ouzina) next to the dunes, the Albergue Porte du Sahara, the Riad Ouzina and Ouzina Rimal.
See Taouz-Ouzina hotels.
To the north is Jdaid, with the accommodation Auberge Itrane sahara.

Ramlia

From Ouzina, the trail continues west to this small oasis, 27 km away, located in a hot arid erg dominated by the great red sand barrier of Jebel Zireg, here is the Hotel Aghbalou Ramlia Guesthouse.

A sandy area where fossils abound, including those of dinosaurs and sometimes the area is flooded by the rivers Ziz and Rheris, which join here before entering the hamada.

From here to the north there are tracks to Alnif and Mcisi on the Rissani-Zagora highway.

The track continues through the oasis of Tafraout Ait Atta, surrounded by arid mountains where you can stay in a Riad or Camping auberge.
Towa the north there are tracks to Mcissi.

Towards the west is the spectacularly beautiful Daya el Maider valley, which floods with rain.

To the north, it is worth visiting the oasis of Found Mharech, 15 km from Ramlya, also called “Bethlehem’s stable” for its beauty, in an area of gorges, an obligatory passage to cross these mountains. It offers incredible desert landscapes and coexistence with the Berbers of this region, the Ait Atta. It is an area of halt on the roads of Merzouga – Zagora and towards the north of Mcissi – Tinguir. To sleep: Riad Nomad.

The track to Zagora, continues westward until arriving at the Tisserdemine oasis and crosses the mountains of Tadrart, through the difficult passage of Tizi Tafialet, to access later the Draa Valley through Zagora, covering about 200 km. From Tisserdemine, to the north there is a track that takes us to the oasis of Tarbalt, between the mountains of Jebel Sarhro and connects it with Tazzarine.

Another alternative from Tafraout is to take a track further south through the dry hamada to Mhamid. This road is long and dangerous because it crosses unpopulated areas near the Algerian border.

OTHER SURROUNDINGS

Erfoud

Erfoud is located 50 km north by road or by a track that crosses a hamada.
Small town, administrative center and market. We recommend you to visit the circuit of fossils.

It is a tourist center with an excellent hotel offer. See hotels in Erfoud.

From this city, roads follow the palm grove of the Rheris river and lead to the road of the thousand Kasbahs through Tineguir and the Gorges of Todra, or through the palm grove of Ziz, to end in Errachidia.

Rissani

Important palm grove that was a base for the ancient caravans that crossed the Sahara to Timbuktu, whose ruins can still be seen.
Birthplace of the current Alaoui dynasty, venerating the tomb of its founder Moulay el Chérif.
Palm trees and Kasbahs abound in the city. You will find a lively souk where you will discover local handicrafts, southern jewelry, rustic objects and a wide variety of fossils.

From this town begins a road N-12 that crosses the Saharan Atlas towards Zagora and the Draa Valley.

The hotel offer is simpler than in the previous cities, you will find the hotels Asmaa and Ennasra.

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