One of the undeniable highlights of my trip to Morocco was seeing the sand dunes and camping under the stars.
In Morocco, you have the two choices where you can visit desert dunes - the Erg Chebbi dunes near to Merzouga and the Erg Chegaga dunes close to M'hamid. Both sets of dunes offer a fantastic experience and both require between 8-10-hour drive in the car.
Because it is relatively difficult to access – and only accessible by 4x4, camel or on foot – Erg Chigaga remains significantly less visited then Erg Chebbi.
Erg Chegaga is a much younger desert destination. Tourists have only been visiting since the 1990s.
The journey from Marrakech will take around 9 hours, but the last two hours have to be by 4X4 jeep. The journey down to Erg Chegaga is fascinating itself.
You can add a stop to
- Ait Ben Haddou along the way and then enter the
- Draa Valley and the many oases Kasbah on the way.
Once you reach the small town of Mhamid, you can continue on to one of the campsites on the dunes, or you can trek by camel straight from there.
The dunes themselves are not as big as out at Erg Chegaga, but the desert is somehow more vast and wild here.
It is perfectly possible to manage a visit to Erg Chegaga in 3 days, but I recommend visiting the dunes and then spending time in one of the palm groves and at Ait Ben Haddou as well as you might love it.
Erg Chigaga dunes are much wilder than Erg Chebbi. But the desert around here is far less explored, and even it takes more time to get to from Mhamid (over 60km and around two hours), and as mentioned, have far fewer people around making you feel like you’re on your own planet!
At night, several other travelers came to the camp and we all had dinner and a fire jam session together. It was a beautiful night of being on our own while still making some friends.
There are fewer camps that only allows 12 people. This keeps everyone happy while keeping the experience intimate and unique.
What to do in the desert
- Try sand-boarding, just chill, or explore around and take photos.
Later, when the sun is a bit less intense,
- ride a camel to explore the dunes around you
Once you are back in Erg Chigaga you can
Don’t underestimate the trek up to the dune. It will be hard as hell!
After a hard day of desert life, you’ll relax to the tent of the local Berbere men with the campfire and the dances.
After a good night’s sleep, I would suggest you
It’s absolutely worth the early wake-up call not only for the sunrise but to get your last few impressions of the impressive dunes before heading off.
- Bring sunglasses and a scarf for sand and wind protection!
- Bring extra layers just in case. While the desert doesn’t get cool, it gets chilly and you will want to put on an extra layer of clothes.
- .Consider that shower might not be available and it’s cold with limited water supply. Bring some wet-wipes if you want an alternative to your washup. Some camps don’t have showers at all.
- Flip flops. You don’t need any other shoes. It is a desert!
- Leggings or some comfy pants are recommended for the camel ride.
- Sunscreen! Very important!
- A flashlight could be good to have.
- Hand sanitizer! As everywhere in Morocco.