Merzouga, the magical sands of Morocco

Merzouga is the jewel of Morocco’s Sahara desert, a true gem that attracts tourists worldwide. It is a small town in southeastern Morocco, about 35 kilometers from Rissani, 45 kilometers from Erfoud, and 20 kilometers from the Algerian border. It is famous worldwide for its beautiful landscapes and the vastness of its dunes, which can be challenging to see. As a result, Merzouga is one of the best places in Morocco to watch the sunset, gaze at the stars, or engage in 4 4 adventure activities.

Merzouga is a small village located on the edge of the Sahara Desert in southeastern Morocco. It is known for its stunning sand dunes, which are among the largest in Morocco and attract many visitors who come to experience the beauty of the desert. Some of the things that Merzouga is famous for include:

Erg Chebbi sand dunes

These towering sand dunes are located just outside of Merzouga and offer a unique and unforgettable desert experience. Visitors can take a camel ride or go on a 4×4 tour to explore the dunes and watch the sunset over the vast desert landscape.

Amazigh culture

Merzouga is located in an area inhabited by the Amazighpeople, who have a rich cultural heritage and a unique way of life. Visitors can learn about Amazightraditions, music, and cuisine by visiting local villages and meeting with Amazighfamilies.

Desert festivals

Merzouga hosts several annual festivals that celebrate the music, culture, and traditions of the desert. The most famous of these is the Festival of the Desert, which takes place in January and features music, dance, and cultural performances.


The clear skies and lack of light pollution make Merzouga an ideal destination for stargazing and astronomy. Visitors can take a guided tour of the stars and planets with a local astronomer and learn about the constellations and celestial bodies visible from the desert.

Merzouga is known for its stunning desert landscapes, unique cultural experiences, and opportunities for adventure and exploration.

Sand dunes in Merzouga

Sand in Merzouga

The visitors are drawn to these dunes because of their size and the orange color of their sand. Some of these stunning formations tower over 200 meters and change color depending on the day. You won’t forget looking at the beautiful sunrise or sunset over the dunes and seeing a vast blanket of stars cover the sky at night because Merzouga, which is in the middle of the Sahara desert, doesn’t have any of the pollution and lights that most people are used to

. The dunes can cover on foot, camels, or off-road vehicles, an authentic 4 × 4 adventure in Morocco. Also, the road leads from  Erfoud to Merzouga and is dotted with hotels, inns, and Kasbah, where you can stay on your trip to the Moroccan desert.

It should also be considered because it is close to Marrakech and Fez. It’s easy to get away from Marrakech and visit Zagora or the Agafay desert for a short break. There are fewer giant dunes in Zagora than in Erg Chebbi. Agafay is the only desert landscape that doesn’t have dunes. It’s best to go to Merzouga, a dessert if you want.

Star of the trips and circuits to the desert of Morocco

circuits to the desert

Merzouga, in recent years, has been positioning itself as the favorite tourist destination in the Moroccan area of ​​the Sahara desert. Suppose you’re not interested in the dunes and desert landscapes. In that case, Merzouga is also known for many different birds, like bustards and pink flamingo groups. A lake formed during the winter floods on the way to Risani. These birds like to stay near the lake.

There are also a lot of animals in the area around Merzouga, like reptiles (like the horned viper or sand viper) and birds (mammals gerbils, desert hedgehogs, field mice, and foxes of the desert). You can often see their footprints in the sand when the sun comes up in the morning.

There are many palm trees around Merzouga, but they’re not the only thing that makes this a beautiful contrast.

Health and well-being tourism is another sort of tourism growing in popularity yearly. More and more travelers flock to Merzouga to take sand bathing treatments throughout July and August, as the temperature is higher in these months. The treatment consists of burying the patients in the hot sand for 5 to 10 minutes and as much rest, which they must hydrate by drinking mint tea. Professionals should only carry out this type of treatment with prior consultation with our doctor since severe burns and even heart failure have been cases. These sand baths are an ancient Amazightreatment to combat rheumatic and arthritic diseases.

Morocco desert tour

Morocco desert tour

The Merzouga desert in Morocco is the ideal place to carry out activities, routes, and excursions in the area, whether in 4 × 4 dromedaries, quads, buggies, or motorcycles. This area has beautiful landscapes and many roads and tracks accessible for off-road vehicles. If our truck is prepared correctly, we can travel the countless dunes of this Sahara desert.

Remember that to cross the dunes, you must lower the pressure of your tires to approximately 0.8 bar per wheel. It is beneficial to carry a compressor in the vehicle that can connect to the battery or the cigarette lighter to increase or decrease the tires’ pressure when entering and leaving the dune area. There are many other tracks with other types of terrain, such as clay or stone, which will require higher tire pressure.

You can rent a buggy or quad from us for one hour to several days in the desert of the Merzouga region of Morocco if you don’t have your off-road vehicle.

It is advisable to look for a guide in the area to show you the most beautiful places in the Merzouga desert, as there are many possibilities: from the black town «Khamlia» to the Khol mines, the old Portuguese prison, the city of Orion, the old houses of the French, the work areas or the nomadic peoples, among others.

You can choose one or another route based on how well-equipped your 4 x 4 vehicle is and how well you drive on this terrain. There are tracks for all levels of difficulty.

The Khamlia people

Khamlia people

Between Merzouga and Taouz, we find Khamlia, the so-called ‘black town,’ located in the shadow of the dunes of Erg Chebbi. It is a town of just over 300 inhabitants, with a much darker complexion due to the mixture of Amazighs, Arabs, and different tribes of sub-Saharan origin. In Khamlia, the largest tribe is the Bambara. They are also called gnawas, the name given to the descendants of enslaved people from black Africa. Their ancestors were brought as enslaved people from central and western Africa, through the Sahara desert, in the caravans that reached the Moroccan southeast.

 They lived like nomads, moving around often to find suitable land for their livestock. As towns and cities grew in the 1950s and ’60s, they moved in with Amazighnomads. In this way, Khamlia came into being, and now its primary source of income is farming and tourism.

Gnawa music is part of the cultural identity of this village. It promotes local development initiatives (education, health, and responsible tourism).

A route through nomadic peoples in the Erg Chebbi desert

Erg Chebbi

It is also possible to visit the nomadic peoples found in the vastness of the Merzouga desert. It is fascinating to see how they live in the middle of the desert with nothing but their livestock and tiny houses made of adobe and wood. Children usually approach the tourists’ cars to ask for pens and sweets or to sell us some handicrafts.

How to get to Merzouga

How to get to Merzouga

People who live in Fez can take a night bus to get them to Rissani and then take a taxi to Merzouga. If you want to see a lot of different landscapes, you should go during the day. There is a lake and one of Morocco’s giant palm trees that you can see on your trip. It can also be reached by Grand Taxi from Rissani, Erfoud, and Er Rachidia, so you can get there.

Take a bus or a taxi to get from Marrakech to Rissani. It takes about 9 hours to get to the Merzouga desert.

Some things could be improved by getting to some hotels in Merzouga. You might have to drive on unpaved roads in certain places to get there. However, that will be fine if you have a 4-vehicle 4 or an SUV.

Another point to consider to make your getaway to the desert is the transfer time. If you travel by car from Marrakech, you should be clear that the distance from Marrakech to the desert is about 10 hours by road. If you travel from Fez to the desert, there are about 8 9 hours of travel, so you must organize your time well. To enjoy this spectacular area of ​​the country, undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and exciting, you should not miss it.

Weather in Merzouga

Weather in Merzouga

Between March and May and September and October are the best times to visit Merzouga and its surroundings because the weather is excellent and the heat isn’t so bad. Tonight, it is not very cold. Many people also go to the Sahara desert in November and December because they are good times. If you want to end your year on a good note, you should spend it in Morocco. The best way to enjoy this trip is to stay for at least three or four days, with at least one week being ideal. When Easter, the May Bridge, comes around, it can be a good time for people to go to the desert.

The jaimas are a camp formed by tents, built in the traditional Amazighstyle, located in the same dunes of the Merzouga desert. These jaimas can be for a small group of people or collective jaimas located next to others from various hotels. In addition, these jaimas usually include percussion shows around the fire. They are one of the best ways to enjoy the spectacle of the magnificent starry sky in the desert. On your trip, you cannot miss the experience of sleeping outdoors in the middle of the Sahara desert! We offer trips around Merzouga in 4 × 4 to the jaimas or camel excursions to the camp. Suppose you want to live the experience of sleeping in the middle of the desert but do not want to give up comfort. In that case, we offer you our luxury tents between the Merzouga, equipped with a private bathroom, shower, and heating for the coldest nights. If that were not enough, they even have Wi-Fi.

Merzouga Hotels

Merzouga Hotels

Many hotels have been built in Merzouga because of the rise in tourism in the area. There are many hotels in kasbahs, inns, and hostels. There are a lot of places to stay here, but the best is the kasbahs and the jaimas. A swimming pool might be a good thing to have at your hotel when you visit this city in the summer. You could use it to cool off during the hottest parts of your day or take a bath at night. Then, let’s say you want to have a unique experience. Like a beautiful Riad, you can also stay in a luxurious hotel in the desert.

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