Erg Chebbi is the name of the highest and largest sand dunes of Morocco : the dunes spread over an area of near 200 km2 (28 x 7 km) and are 150 meters high. These dunes are also called dunes of Merzouga, the name of the little hamlet beneath.
This natural sand dunes formation is strikingly strange. Coming from Erfoud, you cross an incredibly desolate and flat area. You pass through one of the flattest areas you could imagine. For several kilometres there is nothing but small, black stones spread on the ground and suddenly the long mountain of sand rises behind this reg(desert of stone )and you could end up wondering if it really is real.
The dunes are moving and living sculptures and form perfect sand hangings, natural masterpieces .
Watching the sun rise or sun set over the sand dunes of Merzouga will be one of the most spectacular experiences in your life. Colors change with the intensity of the light from pink to apricot with infinite number of shades : its an ocean of smooth, color-changing dunes as far as the eye can see.
The existence of these dunes is so weird that it has given rise to legends and myths among the locals.
One legend tells that the dunes of Erg Chebbi were created by God as a punishment to the locals of nearby Merzouga after they refused to give shelter to a woman and her child during a local festival. A sandstorm came, and buried the village.
Sun Set on Erg Chebbi
Sun rise on Erg Chebbi
Start point : Erfoud
Next Airports :
- Ouarzazate, 331 km
- Fes , 457 km
- Marrakech, 535 km
How to reach Erfoud by car ?
- From Ouarzazate over Tinerhir
- From Fes over Errachidia
- From Marrakech over Tichka collar, Ouarzazate, Tinerhir
How to get to Erg Chebbi from Erfoud ?
Distance : 50 km (33 km track)
The track (piste) to the dunes is not easy to find.
At the end of the tar (km 17), don’t follow straight forward (BIG hole), but turn left and follow the green and white marks. After Kasbah Derkaoua, pass right and follow the old telephone posts. In fact, only the metallic bases of these posts remain and they have pink and white marks. If you take the good way, you see the dunes in front or on your left.
- Don’t NEVER start to the dunes by sand storm.
- Don’t use the innumerable false guides you find in Erfoud or Rissani. Real guides can be provided in the hotels.
When To Climb
Summer is to hot. The sand burns your feet and your drinkwater becomes hot like tea. If you have a breakdown the situation becomes fastly difficult. You must take a lot of water with you because you will probably have to wait a long time for breakdown service.
In winter, the nights can be cold.
You can climb the dunes as you want (by foot or with camel)
Different possibilities :
-Sun rise hike
- Sun set hike
- One day hike
- 2 days hike with biwak (with guide and camels)
1) Lots of Berber hotels (tents on the edge of the sand dunes). Most of these Berber hotels are equipped with toilets and showers. You sleep in a Berber tent (not water proof but it has not rained since 1995) with real beds (I recommend a sleeping bag because the bedclothes are full of sand), you drink Berber whiskey (mint tea) and eat tasty tajine and Berber pizza (a fresh highly spiced potato/pizza-bread concoction).
2) Recommended hotel : Auberge du Sud
Dayet Sriji Lake
The Saharan lake of Dayet Sriji is a surprise. You see, in most of Morocco the only form of lake you will see are the ones behind modern dams. So out here, about an hour of travel south of everything, you see a real lake. A salty one, that is true, but still it is a lake.
In the lake there are numerous birds, of which flamingoes will be the most fascinating for most to watch.
A long succession of palm plantations, quite as rich ones as the others lead to Erfoud. Tafilalet played an important political role formerly; The climate was less arid and the oasis of Tafilalt was compared with Mesopotamia.Sijilmassa, old capital if Morocco gave rise to the dynasty of Alaouites from which its majesty Hassan II goes down directly, by Moulay Ali cherif, the first emir proclaimed Sultan in 1640.