Accessing the desert is easy – paved roads are found all across the Middle Atlas. People come here to explore Merzouga by 4×4, or on a guided tour. What better way to watch the sunset than atop a giant sand dune – than from your seat on the back of a camel? Merzouga is home to a large traditional Berber population, as well as Arabs. Visitors are welcome to experience Berber culture for themselves.
Whether you’re racing down the magical dunes on a 4×4 or camping out under the canvas of stars, spending time in Merzouga is an experience you won’t soon forget.
Places to Visit in Merzouga
- Dayet Srji salt lake
- Erg Chebbi
- Hassi Labied
- Khamlia village
- Merzouga village
- Rissani village
Unique Things to See and Do in Merzouga
- Take a camel trek through the desert
- Race around the sand dunes on a 4×4
- Get to know the Berber population
- Camp out under the brilliant stars
- Watch for wildlife – like ducks and flamingoes
Merzouga’s culture is mostly influenced by the area’s Berber population. There are many Berber communities spread out around the desert, in different villages like Merzouga and Hassi Labied. Although many of the Berbers are now settled, traditionally they are a nomadic culture. They bred and raised herds of sheep, goats, and camel for hundreds of years, despite the harsh conditions of the land. With their nomadic experience, the Berber people cultivated the area around the Erg Chebbi sand dunes to grow palm trees and crops.
The locals wholeheartedly embrace visitors to Merzouga. Many guests choose to hire guides to take them into the desert on the back of a camel and then camp out overnight with the Berber people. The sand dunes of Erg Chebbi are the highest sand dunes in North Africa, so you’re guaranteed some stellar views. There’s also no better way to see the sunset than on the back of a friendly camel. In the evenings, you can join the Berbers for some delicious mint tea, camping out under the stars and next to a fire built just for you. The Berbers may even serve up some of their food specialties, like tagine and couscous! Your Berber hosts may also treat you to some folk dancing and black G’naui music.
Other than the Berbers, there’s also a large population of Senegalese in the area. You can visit a village for Khamlia to experience traditional Senegalese musicians and dancers.
Getting Around Merzouga
Merzouga is very remote – it’s located over 700 kilometres from Marrakech! The nearest large town is Ouarzazate, which is easily reached by plane or bus. There are many bus links around Morocco ranging in comfort and price, including some overnight buses like CTM and Supratours. There is no train system, but all the towns have taxi services.
To safely enjoy the desert, it’s absolutely necessary to hire a local guide to see Merzouga. You’ll be thankful when your Berber hosts treat you to some delicious tagine!
Did you know…?
The Erg Chebbi dunes are reportedly the highest sand dunes in Northern Africa!
Did you ALSO know…?
The Grand Dune de Merzouga is the tallest dune in Merzouga and is marked by the tamarisk tree at its base.
Best Time of Year to Travel to Merzouga
You’ll want to time your visit appropriately. This is the desert, after all! The summer months between June and September can be brutally hot. Temperatures can even go up to 45 degrees Celsius, and the climate is excruciatingly dry. However, in the evening, temperatures plunge. March and April pose a high risk for sandstorms.
Your best time to visit is from October through February. Temperatures are much more manageable at this time, and the weather is fairly predictable.
Ready to plan your visit to Merzouga? Check out these popular guides and trips.