According to Baglib, Merzouga is a small village in the Moroccan part of the Sahara. The Great Desert in this country is mostly dry, fissured ground. But the usual sand dunes here once, twice, and miscalculated. In fact, there is only one such place. And it is located in the vicinity of Merzouga. Her houses and tents stand at the foot of Erg Chebbi, a huge (50 by 5 km) dune massif up to 350 m high. There is no developed infrastructure here – civilization is limited to a couple of supermarkets, several cafes and restaurants. Most people come to Merzouga not to soak up the soft feather beds of hotel suites, but to take part in a camel safari and feel the authentic Berber lifestyle.
How to get to Merzouga
The most convenient way to get to Merzouga is by bus from Marrakech. Read more about how to get to this major Moroccan city here and here. True, it must be borne in mind that buses stop in all cities that come across on the way. Therefore, vehicles leaving Marrakech at 8:30 a.m. arrive in Merzouga only at 9:00 p.m.
Buses to the cities of Erachidia and Rissani often depart from the Marrakesh bus station. This option, although less comfortable, is cheaper than a direct flight to Merzouga – the bus does not make many stops on its way. Upon arrival in Rissani or Erachidia, you can take a relatively inexpensive taxi to Merzouga. In general, this route is quite popular, so a trip in a minibus will cost 190-250 MAD. Prices on the page are for November 2022.
If you want to get a whole minivan at your disposal, just warn the driver about it and pay him extra.
What to see
Merzouga is the starting point for all thrill-seekers departing deep into the Sahara. The surroundings of this settlement are considered one of the most convenient places to study the nature of the great African desert. The main attraction of Merzouga is a giant ridge of dunes up to 350 m high. The sandy hills are especially fascinating during sunrise, when the shadows on their slopes seem to run into each other under the first rays of the sun, intertwining into a single bizarre pattern.
The only way to get around Merzouga and its environs is on foot, since the settlement is small. True, it is better to take walks in the evening or in the morning – during the day it is unbearably hot in the desert.
Another attraction is the small lake Diet Sridzh, located to the west of Merzouga. It fills with water only after heavy rains and in winter, which attracts thousands of birds. Pink flamingos, storks, ducks and other birds like to rest here.
Accommodation in Merzouga
Most of the hotels are located within a kilometer zone from the paved highway N13. The settlement is stretched from the north of the village of Hassi Labied to the south of Merzouga, so it is better to book accommodation in advance and check its exact location. Most lodging options are Berber tents, where a mattress costs around 90-100 MAD. It is better to take warm clothes with you, especially if you are planning to go hiking in the desert: it is quite cold here at night.
There are also classic European hotels in Merzouga. So, the Main tourist complex, located 500 meters from the center of the village, has 42 rooms, from standard doubles to royal suites. The cost of accommodation starts from 975 MAD, but this amount also includes breakfast and dinner. The hotel is located right next to the dunes of Erg Chebbi. The complex has a restaurant, a snack bar, a bivouac and an excursion center offering off-road trips and camel safaris.
In the rooms of smaller hotels, the cost of living is lower. But the service is worse, and breakfasts are not served everywhere, not to mention dinners. Prices for standard double rooms start from 195 MAD.
Things to do
As already mentioned, most tourists come to Merzouga to take part in a camel safari through the dunes of Erg Chebbi. Before leaving for the desert, it is necessary to buy a scarf that protects your neck and head from the sun. Cost of tours: with one night in the desert – about 68 EUR. Tents, breakfasts, lunches and dinners, as well as water are already included in the price. On the first night, most groups sleep in large Berber tent cities. Dinner is also served here, sometimes with live traditional music. Breakfasts are served very early before it gets quite hot.
Some tour companies have their own tent camps equipped with all the necessary amenities. Such safaris are more expensive, but the price is fully justified by the comfort.
Weather in Merzouga
The winter months (November-February) are quite cold (+10 °C), with sunny days and frosty nights. Spring, starting in April, is very comfortable with temperatures up to + 30 °C during the day and cool nights. Summer is naturally very hot.
It sometimes rains (several times a month) in winter and spring, but showers are rare. The best time to visit Merzouga is from February to April.