Where are the big dunes and how long does it take to get there? It is often the questions that arise.
Let us start with a few definitions:
* The desert is a geographic area where the rate of precipitation is lower than the rate of evaporation and where the population density is very low due to the very difficult climatic conditions.
* There are 3 types of the desert on the planet:
- The Reg is a desert of stones, a rocky plain.
- Hamada is a desert plateau, rocky.
- The Erg is a vast area occupied by dunes.
You will find in Morocco the 3 types of desert but in specific regions.
- Agafay Desert – Marrakech – Morocco
- Agafay desert (reg type) – Morocco
Let’s talk about “Marrakech” to begin with.
First, there are NO dunes in Marrakech, nor in the surrounding area! The region of Marrakech is arid and desert, it is a beautiful region and very contrasted between mountains, plateau, and valleys. You will find a wealth of incredible landscapes, beautiful. Nevertheless, if you are looking for dunes, you will have to make minimum 8 hours of cars to reach the first waves of sand. You will find many dunes on the Atlantic coast (Essaouira is only 3 hours’ drive) but here I speak of dunes of the “Desert” with a large D.
To find them, you will have to cross the chain of Mountain of the High Atlas towards Ouarzazate. Know there too, that you will not find dunes. But you will be closer!
We have 2 oceans of dunes in Morocco, 2 large Erggs, ergs Chebbi and Chegaga.
The Erg Chebbi is the best known: these are very large orange dunes whose highest peaks reach more than 150 meters. They are located in the area of the city of Rissani in the heart of the Moroccan Sahara. They are easily accessible by the road that will take you to the foot of the giants, near the village of Merzouga. It is a magnificent and rare place, its beauty is incontestable. Unfortunately, the road makes it one of the most touristic sites in Morocco. So a tip, do not stay on the side of the road but find one of the beautiful and comfortable bivouacs on the other side of the dunes, accessible only by the trail and 4 × 4. A perfect setting for adventurous amateurs of comfort in Morocco holidays.
For those who seek even more ‘authenticity and adventure, then without hesitation, you have to go to Erg Chegaga.
Erg Chegga is located in the south of the city of Zagora, about 12 hours’ drive from Marrakech. After the village of M’Hamid, you will leave the road to take the track for a 2-hour journey through the real desert, where unreal landscapes such as rivers dried (Oueds), Regs, Hamada and finally the Very wild and majestic Erg Chegaga. This region is still preserved from tourism and remains wild. A fragile pearl to which one must be careful.
Between Chebbi and Chegaga, difficult to choose! I would recommend seeing both. But I still have a slight preference for Chegaga and its wild side, the track to get there is a great adventure. 🙂Do not forget that you are in the heart of the Sahara and that if the weather changes, you may lose yourself.
There are many other Ergs in the Moroccan Sahara, but I have described the two most important. There is a multitude of small Erg which is often tourist attraction. Hang in two: Erg Tinfou (at the gates of Zagora and on the roadside) and Erg ElYoudi. The second is better but it is so bad that we have traveled so many kilometers to find ourselves so close to the goal and limit ourselves to these tourist fairs or the bivouacs. Let us not forget that, first and foremost, a desert is by definition an area where the population density is very low.
Warning!!! Some agencies offer tours in 2 or 3 days. In my opinion, this is a mistake! To go and return, I advise you a circuit in minimum 4 days, the ideal being 5 days and more. There is so much to see and do. All the more so that part of the road is mountainous. Also not recommended for families with young children, there is too much road for them and it is sometimes difficult for cheap holidays to Morocco.
I hope this article will help you organize your vacation and your trip. Do not hesitate to contact us if you need good addresses, we have plenty of good plans.
I wish you a wonderful holiday in our fabulous country. Trek salama!