Merzouga Village in Morocco

Merzouga is a village in the Sahara Desert in Morocco, on the edge of Erg Chebbi, a 50km long and 5km wide set of sand dunes that reach up to 350m high.

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The small village of Merzouga is known for its proximity to Erg Chebbi dunes in southeastern Morocco, a Saharan erg, and it is, for this reason, a part of the itineraries of many tourists visiting Morocco. Most people are here to take a camel safari into the dunes, and to get a taste of remote (tourism-influenced) Berber life.

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Winter months (November to February) are cool but sunny, with daily high temperatures only slightly over 10 C, and cold nights. Spring until April is pleasant, with temperatures from 25 C up to 30 C in the afternoons, and with cool nights. Summer months are hot. Best time to visit Merzouga is February to April.

From Marrakech, drive over the Atlas mountains to Ourzazate, with overnight stops in at least two of Ouarzazate or Ait Benhaddou, Boumalne du Dades, and Tinerhir. After Tinerhir head either to Erfoud and then Rissani, or for a less used alternative route, head south to Alnif and then Rissani. Most of the roads are quite scenic, with the Alnif-Rissani section scenic desert without villages.

The local population is a mix of Arabs and Berber, and generally welcoming and friendly. The only way to get around Merzouga village is on foot. It’s fairly small and easily walkable, but you’ll likely want to avoid the midday heat during the unbearably hot summer months. The things worth seeing are either the dunes next to the village.

Activities include off-road driving with 4×4, motorbike, or camels. Camel safaris include overnight stays on permanent “nomad” settlements in the middle of the other side of the dunes. Sunrise/sunset over the dunes. Folk dances and black G’naui music. Visits to villages near Merzouga inhabited by Senegalese musicians and dancers such as Khamlia can be arranged with some guides.

Desert Camp Bourchedor and camel safaris, almost certainly the reason you came here in the first place, and by far the best way to experience the dunes. Dinner, perhaps some music played, and you can enjoy the sand dunes under zillions of stars or a moon filled night sky.

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As featured in Road to Desert • MOROCCO.

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