Top Things to Do in Erg Chebbi
Erg Chebbi is only a small part of the Sahara Desert, but there is more than enough space to venture out and feel like you are alone in the world. Also known as the Merzouga Desert, a city that stands in the south-east of Morocco, this haven of peace stretches over a strip of about twenty kilometers long and about five kilometers wide.
From the few surrounding towns, access to Erg Chebbi is easy, as it is linked to Merzouga by a paved road. On the other hand, to enter the dune areas, you have to leave this path and take a track, easily accessible. Many tourist buses are already using it, to the place where the camps stand, this is the beginning of the adventure.
Several ways allow you to fully live this desert experience. The first thing to do is to follow this sea of sand. A walk in the dunes, whatever the means of transport, promises a walk rich in discoveries. Each summit is the subject of a rest area to admire the view and the landscapes of Erg Chebbi.
To clarify its location, erg Chebbi is located in Tafilalet, in the south-east of Morocco, about 40 kilometers from the town of Arfourd and near the Algerian border. Erg Chebbi is one of those places where ancient nomadic peoples lived.
In addition, there were also the caravanners who passed by to sell their products in the surrounding cities or in a few large Moroccan cities, such as Marrakech.
Erg Chebbi today
Nowadays, this huge wild sanctuary is one of the popular attractions for those who want to follow in the footsteps of these nomadic peoples. Lovers of wide open spaces will find their happiness there, while specialists will be delighted to discover the rock engravings and the majestic archaeological sites.
Vast and wild, Erg Chebbi cannot be walked in a day. This is why camps equipped with all the necessary comforts have been built. However, this does not prevent adventurous travelers from setting up their wild bivouac in their favorite spot.
Today, countless hikers and excursionists, in search of a total change of scenery, rub shoulders with this part of the Moroccan Sahara. Some travel agencies could even offer tourists to spend some key events of the year
When to go?
The weather is fine all year round in the Moroccan desert. However, you have to realize the big difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures. In fact, even though it is hot all day, around 28 ° C, the night can be freezing and drop down to 0 ° C, especially in winter.
Encampments can also be overrun with sand whirlpools when the wind picks up. So even though Erg Chebbi can be visited all year round, the best time to experience the desert is between March and October.
Some tips for a successful outing in the desert
Hikers should not be too crowded, that is, be as light as possible. A small bag is enough to store accessories, such as tissues, sunscreens, cameras, binoculars, water bottles …
On the clothing side, clothing that covers but is ventilated is the most appropriate. Pants and a long-sleeved shirt, for example.
Since it is very hot in the desert, hiking boots can be uncomfortable on the feet, so wear a pair of open sandals worn with socks.
In addition, sunglasses and hats are essential to counter the sun’s rays. There are also cotton scarves typical of desert countries that protect from the wind and sand.
For those who want to spend the night in a bivouac, it is necessary to provide a sleeping bag adapted to the local temperature and to any freezing nights. Flashlights, toilet paper, Swiss Army knives and a first aid kit are also very useful.
How to get there ?
The nearest large city to this erg is Ouarzazate. The latter has an international airport and allows direct flights to be booked from major European cities. Once in Ouarzazate, you can take a taxi, a bus or a rental car to leave for Merzouga, a small town before erg Chebbi. It is also located 360 kilometers from Ouarzazate, so about 5 hours of travel.
After this paved road, you have to continue on a track, easy to access, which leads to the dunes of Erg de Chebbi and the area of the camps.
Some travelers choose to start the journey from Marrakech or Fez… The journey can be very long, but the landscapes during the journey are worth it. From the red city, for example, you have to cross the famous scenic route of the High Atlas to reach the rocky plains and palm groves of the Drâ a valley, to finish on the desert sea of sand.
How to get around?
● On foot: Erg Chebbi is a site to be explored on foot. It is essential to cross the dunes before stopping in a place to spend some time with family or in a group …
● By 4×4: This means of transport is very popular with those who want to make an excursion to the most remote places.
● In quad: Faster and more sporty, this is dedicated to thrill seekers. As a group, as a family, you just have to follow in the guide’s footsteps so as not to get lost.
● On the back of a camel: This is the most original way to explore Erg Chebbi or the entire Moroccan Sahara. To the rhythm of these animals, you will surely have one of the most authentic moments. An opportunity to try a new experience and live in the era of the nomadic peoples who lived alongside the Sahara desert.
All in all, Erg Chebbi promises highlights for its visitors.