Sahara Desert Tours Morocco
Morocco’s Saharan sand dunes are the stuff of legend, and sitting astride a camel as the sun sets over the golden sands is surely the best way to experience them. The dunes are called ergs, or islands of sand fed by the Sahara Desert to the south, isolated from the main ocean of sand by a hard, stony barrier called hammada. Their ageless scenic beauty and sense of tranquillity, combined with their close proximity to the rest of the country, make desert trekking one of the country’s most popular and rewarding experiences. The most easily accessible sand dunes are Erg Chebbi, at Merzouga, and Erg Chigaga, 55km (34 miles) south of M’hamid. There are other smaller dunes closer to M’hamid (Lehoudi and Messouira) and Zagora (Nakhla and Tinfou), as well as along the road between Tinejdad and Erfoud, but they will disappoint if you have come looking for waves of dunes rolling into the horizon.
Exploring the desert can last as little as a couple of hours to a multiple-week caravan trek. Most travellers opt for an overnight excursion, with the mode of travel — camel, 4WD, or a combination of both — dependent on your choice of sand dunes. It’s possible to organize this independently, but if you wish to head straight out to overnight in the dunes, you’ll need to arrive very early at your auberge or prebook. Camel treks should include all of your meals; some will also include bottled water, but it’s worth taking an extra personal supply as well. I normally budget on two large bottles per night, plus a bottle of red wine for sunset on the dune. Blankets and rugs are provided, but they are usually communal, so you may want to take your own sleeping bag or inner sheet. Very rarely will any medical supplies be carried.
Visiting the dunes is possible year-round, but from June to August the heat can be distressingly overwhelming. If you must visit at this time, I recommend Erg Chebbi due to the choice of auberges at the dunes’ edge — especially if you’re travelling with children — rather than the long, hot drive out to Erg Chigaga.