Merzouga

Merzouga is a small frontier town on the edge of the Sahara desert, 40 kms from Erfoud.  The Erg Chebbi dunes are the whole reason for visiting this area.  These towering dunes are indisputably one of the greatest sights of Morocco. Giant hills of smooth sand lining the Algerian border, rising up to one hundred fifty meters in some places and continuing for over twenty kilometers. This area was on the Saharan Caravan Route, used by the traders of old as they transported gold, salt, slaves and spices to Timbuktu. 

The dunes shelter a myriad of life, much of which becomes apparent in the evenings when the heat  the day has gone.  Jerboa, desert hedgehog, fennec and desert fox are found here as well as rare desert plants.  Rain is a rarity, but if it falls in the springtime, pink asphodels and mauve statice appear. Sometimes the spring rains create a small lake northwest of Merzouga which attracts pink flamingoes and other water birds. Desert sparrows, egyptian nightjars, desert warblers and blue cheeked bee-eaters can also endemic to this area.

The weather of the Sahara desert is seasonal, at times it is completely still and silent, however, when sand storms with winds arrive, they create a hissing sound so strong they can take one by suprise.  January and February can be excellent months to be in this area, there are fewer people and the climate is more temperate.  Stay away during the blistering summer months from August to end of September.

The dunes are best seen at sunrise and sunset when the changing light subtly alters their colour with each passing second, from butter yellow to gold, ochre and honey. Accommodation at the dunes is either at the permanent Sahara Desert Camp or at a private camp set up for two or more people.  Their inaccessibility and distance from Marrakech and Fez means that this area is best incorporated in a circuit itinerary of the Deep South.

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