For many travelers, the golden sand dunes of the Erg Chebbi desert are what Morocco promises to be: the dream of 1001 nights – camels, palm trees, legendary sunsets and breathtaking dunes.
The beautiful sandy sea of the Erg Chebbi extends right in front of the doors of the oasis city of Merzouga and is also very easy to reach for travelers without desert experience or off-road vehicle.
When the sun is favorable, the up to 160m high dunes shine in orange, red and pink.
The dunes of the Erg Chebbi are beautiful, no question! But unfortunately, the convenient location and the uncomplicated arrival also has its disadvantages: in recent years, the desert around Merzouga was literally flooded by tourists. Desert camps and resorts shot like mushrooms from the sandy bottom, caravans from rattling quads, buggies and hordes of excursionists plow through the dunes. If you are looking for seclusion and peace, here you are (unfortunately) wrong.
The typical ‚Erg Chebbi excursion‘ includes the following: overnight stay in the (more or less luxurious) Bedouin tent, dinner with live music, camel riding or quad biking, early morning hiking to admire the sunrise from one of the high dunes.
In Merzouga and the surrounding area, there are countless operators offering such tours – and „those who show up without a guide or camel in the city must expect to be offered both.“ (Lonely Planet)
However, if you arrive in Merzouga with your own off-road vehicle and a sense of adventure, you can tackle the ‚eastern bypass‘ of the Sand Sea. On the eastern flank of the dunes you have a small chance to find at least some peace.
And if you have time and want to experience real seclusion and an endless desert, you should visit the golden sand of southern Erg Chigaga. There, the dunes of the tourist crowds (still) largely spared.