Top 10 Things To Do in Merzouga Desert | Erg Chebbi Activities
Things To Do in Merzouga Desert, Erg Chebbi Activities

Merzouga is a small village in southeastern Morocco, known for being located near the edge of the impressive Erg Chebbi sand dunes. This area of the Sahara Desert in Morocco offers some amazing experiences for travelers.

From camel treks to luxury desert camps, there are many great things to do in and around Merzouga. In this article, we will cover the 10 best activities and sights you shouldn’t miss when visiting this special part of the Moroccan Sahara desert.

Read on to learn more about how to make the most out of your trip to Merzouga!

1. Take a Camel Trek Through The Erg Chebbi Dunes

One of the top things to do in Merzouga is taking a camel trek into the Erg Chebbi dunes. The Erg Chebbi dunes are an impressive area of towering sand dunes located just south of the village of Merzouga.

Camel treks typically last 1-2 nights, taking you deep into the dune fields. You will ride the camel while guided by an experienced camel driver from the local Berber nomad tribes. They know the desert landscape perfectly.

Trekking by camel allows accessing parts of the dunes that 4×4 vehicles cannot reach. It is a peaceful and memorable way to experience the Sahara Desert.

You can gaze up at the towering dunes, some over 150 meters high! As you reach the heart of Erg Chebbi, you will stay overnight in a traditional Berber desert camp.

Camel treks can be booked in Merzouga or arranged upon your arrival. The sunrise and sunset overlooking the sea of dunes are incredible sights. This camel trek is definitively among the top things to do in Merzouga and the highlight for many visitors.

Check out the Top 4 Sahara Desert Tour Destinations in Morocco here.

2. Go Sandboarding Down The Dunes Around Erg Chebbi

Sandboarding Down The Dunes Around Erg Chebbi

Another fun activity to try in the Merzouga desert is sandboarding! It is an exciting way to experience sliding down the towering sand dunes.

Sandboarding involves using a snowboard or specially-made board to ride down the dunes. You’ll climb up the dune, then fly down the slopes at exhilarating speeds.

Special instructions and equipment are provided to ensure safety. No previous experience is required.

Dune 45 is a popular 150-meter-high dune often used for sandboarding near Merzouga. Going down these massive sand mountains will get your adrenaline pumping! Sandboarding is a fun thing to add to your Merzouga desert adventure.

3. Spend The Night In A Luxury Desert Camp

For a more upscale desert experience, consider spending a night or two at a luxury desert camp just outside of Merzouga village.

Luxury camps provide hotel-style amenities and comfortable Berber-inspired lodging while still immersing you in the desert environment. These camps may offer private en-suite tents, spa services, swimming pools, gourmet dining, and more.

Activities like camel rides, sand boarding, quad biking, and excursions are also arranged by most camps. This is a great way to experience the magic of the desert with some added comfort.

Spending a night in luxury is one of the best things to do in Merzouga for travelers seeking a glamorous desert getaway.

4. Stay in a Traditional Berber Nomad Tent

For a more authentic desert living experience, opt for an overnight stay in a traditional nomadic Berber tent. Several basic Berber campsites dot the edges of the Erg Chebbi dunes not far from Merzouga town.

These camps provide rustic tent lodging but immerse you in Bedouin culture. You’ll enjoy a campfire, homecooked food, stargazing, and learning about nomadic lifestyles. The lack of modern amenities and quiet isolation in the dunes make for peaceful nights.

Waking up to desert views and the sunrise is magical when staying in a Berber camp. This rustic overnight desert stay offers an affordable and memorable Merzouga travel experience away from crowds.

5. Go Quad Biking Through the Sahara Desert

Get your adrenaline pumping with a quad bike tour in the desert! You will be offered guided quad biking excursions into the dunes and plains surrounding the village.

You’ll ride through sandy tracks and small dunes, taking in views of the desert environment. Quad biking is a fast-paced way to explore areas farther from Merzouga town.

Tours typically last 1-2 hours and provide helmets, gear, and instruction. Morocco quad tours can be booked upon arrival in Merzouga.

Note that quad biking has some environmental impact, so stick to designated tracks. Going off-roading by quad bike is one of the more adventurous things you can do in Merzouga and the Sahara region.

6. Watch the Sunrise and Sunset Over The Sand Dunes

One of the best things to do in Merzouga is to watch the sunrise and sunset over the Erg Chebbi sand dunes. The dunes produce stunning colors and shadows at sunset and sunrise as the changing light plays off the ripples in the sand.

Many excursions will take you to the dunes in time for these magical moments. For the best views, make the effort to spend a night in the desert at a camp among the dunes. This allows you to see both sunset and sunrise from the heart of Erg Chebbi.

Local guides know the optimal spots for stargazing and viewing the colorful sunrises/sunsets. Time your visit to Merzouga right to catch this incredible natural show.

7. Ride Through the Erg Chebbi Desert in a 4×4

To cover a lot of ground in the desert surrounding Merzouga, join a 4×4 desert tour. Experienced drivers will take you to the best spots around the dunes in a 4-wheel drive SUV.

Stops may include villages, oases, rock formations, mines, and fossils. This gives you a better feel for the diverse Saharan landscape. Going off-roading to far-reaching areas is thrilling.

Desert 4×4 excursions typically last a half or full day. Stops to trek on foot or by camel are also included. 4×4 tours can be arranged by local operators once in Merzouga.

Check out this 4-Day Moroccan Sahara Tour package.

8. Explore the Oases and Kasbahs around Merzouga

While the dunes are the main attraction, there are also interesting oases, towns, and historic kasbahs around Merzouga to explore.

Excursions by 4×4 allow you to visit places like the Ksours and kasbahs of Ait Khamouda, Khemlia village, Dayet Sriji salt lake, and Rissani town with its lively souks.

These areas around the dunes of Erg Chebbi provide a look at traditional Berber oasis life and old kasbah ruins. Excellent fossil deposits can also be viewed. Adding a tour of the Merzouga area desert sights gives you a more complete experience.

9. Visit the Rissani Souks and Market near Merzouga

The small town of Rissani near Merzouga hosts a large souk marketplace 3 times a week. Visiting Rissani Souk provides shopping opportunities and contact with local Berber culture.

Visit the Rissani Souks and Market near Merzouga

Artisans sell fossil art, rugs, spices, jewelry, and handcrafted items. You can also browse livestock like donkeys and camels when in season. The souks offer a fascinating glimpse of desert life.

The ruins of the ancient capital city of Sijilmassa are located near the souks as well. You can tour the historic ramparts and remains. Exploring this area provides context on regional history and trade roots.

Check out this 2-day tour from Fes to Merzouga and back

10. Try Desert Activities Like Archery, Drumming Classes, and More

Many desert camps and hotels also offer cultural activities right on the site. You may be able to book options like Berber drumming lessons, henna tattoos, camel milking, archery, desert astronomy, and more.

These activities allow you to engage with and learn about desert traditions and skills from the local Berbers. Nighttime stargazing with telescopes is especially popular in the clear Merzouga desert skies.

Adding cultural experiences and activities to your Merzouga trip provides a well-rounded desert adventure.

Final Summary

This magical desert region of Morocco has so much to offer travelers wanting to go beyond the typical destinations. Visiting Merzouga provides an escapade into the sand dunes that few places can rival.

With its camel treks, abundant dunes to explore, excellent Berber hospitality, and luxurious desert camps, Merzouga has become a premier Saharan destination.

By taking the chance to try a variety of overnight desert experiences, outdoor adventures, cultural encounters, and tours of the surrounding oases, you’ll get to know this special part of Morocco.

So if you seeking a getaway from the ordinary, consider putting Merzouga on your travel bucket list! With this list of the top 10 things to do, you can plan an unforgettable trip to this desert wonderland in the Moroccan Sahara.

Let us know in the comments if you have visited Merzouga. And share any other great activities you want to know about!

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FAQs About Visiting Merzouga, Morocco

What is the town of Merzouga like?

Merzouga is a small remote village located on the edge of the Erg Chebbi sand dunes in southeast Morocco. The town has a population of around 500 inhabitants, mostly from local Berber tribal groups.

Merzouga has basic amenities like shops, cafes, and guesthouses aimed at desert travelers. The town itself is quite small and rural, focused on providing desert excursions and tours.

How far is Marrakech from Merzouga?

Marrakech and Merzouga are located about 557.2 km (346.2 mi) apart by road according to Google Maps. Driving time is around 5-6 hours through the High Atlas Mountains.

Many tour companies offer private transfers between Marrakech and Merzouga as part of desert tour packages. There are also public buses making the journey, though the bus trip takes significantly longer.

What is quad biking in Merzouga like?

Several tour operators around Merzouga offer thrilling quad biking excursions into the desert landscape surrounding the Erg Chebbi dunes.

Guided tours provide gear and instruction for riding through sandy tracks and over small dunes by 4-wheeled ATVs. Quad biking allows covering ground quickly to see more of the diverse Sahara environment near Merzouga.

Companies like Great Desert Tours offer exciting quad-biking adventures.

What is the Gorge du Dades area near Merzouga?

The Gorge du Dades is a scenic rocky gorge carved by the Dades River located about 187 km (280.7 km by road) from Merzouga. The gorge’s steep cliffs and rock formations create stunning scenery on the route between Merzouga and Marrakech.

Stopping to view the gorge makes for a nice break when traveling to/from the desert.

How difficult is walking up the sand dunes around Merzouga?

The Erg Chebbi dunes can be quite tiring to ascend on foot due to the soft, sliding sand according to guidebooks. Some dunes tower up to 150 meters high. Camel rides are recommended for reaching deep into the dunes without getting worn out.

However, walking up smaller dunes closer to Merzouga town can still be attempted for the views and experience. Take it slow and be prepared for a good leg workout!

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