Erg Chebbi in Merzouga: The Ultimate Guide to the Moroccan Sahara Desert
As you gaze out at the boundless sea of sand, towering dunes stretch in high waves that seem to touch the sky. It's hard not to feel humbled and exhilarated by the vastness of Erg Chebbi in Merzouga, the Moroccan Sahara Desert.
A natural wonder of epic proportions, this sprawling expanse of golden sand is a breathtaking spectacle that attracts thrill-seekers and nature lovers alike. Whether you're looking to embark on a desert safari, ride a camel into the sunset, or soak up the otherworldly beauty of this incredible landscape, this ultimate guide to Erg Chebbi in Merzouga will help you plan the adventure of a lifetime in one of the most enchanting places on earth.
Brief overview of Erg Chebbi in Merzouga
Erg Chebbi in Merzouga is a paradise for nature lovers and adventure seekers looking for an authentic desert experience. These smooth dunes, which can reach up to 150 meters high, are located west of Marrakech near Merzouga.
The easiest way to reach Erg Chebbi is by car, 4x4, or bus. However, for a more traditional touch, you can take a camel or horse ride or a guided ATV drive for a faster pace.
Erg Chebbi is a must-visit destination in Morocco, offering a range of activities and accommodation options, from luxury camping to hotels in the town. The area has been popular since the 1980s due to its proximity to Merzouga, the local tourist centre.
Erg Chebbi, part of the Sahara Desert, has a semi-arid climate and can be visited year-round. However, to avoid the summer heat, visiting during the winter months is recommended. Don't forget to pack light, layered clothing for the temperature changes from day to night, sunscreen, and water.
Importance of visiting the Moroccan Sahara Desert
Visiting the Moroccan Sahara Desert is an experience of a lifetime. It's a chance to leave your comfort zone and explore a completely foreign yet fascinating landscape.
The Sahara is the largest hot desert in the world, covering over 3.6 million square miles of sand, rock formations, and rugged mountains. The shifting dunes have a mesmerizing quality that changes colour throughout the day and will take your breath away at sunset or sunrise.
This is also an opportunity to meet the indigenous people who have lived here for thousands of years. The Berber tribespeople, Tuareg, and Bedouins all have a unique culture and history that they will be eager to share with visitors.
When you visit the Sahara, you'll have the opportunity to:
- Ride camels
- Go on an ATV ride
- Go on a horse ride
- Explore the landscape
Spending the night in a traditional Berber tent provides an unforgettable experience. You'll get to sample traditional food, dance, and sing around a campfire under a sky glittered with stars.
The geographical location of Erg Chebbi in Merzouga
Description of its location
Erg Chebbi, also known as the Sea of Dunes, is located in southeastern Morocco, near Merzouga. The dunes are breathtaking, with sand hills reaching up to 150 meters in height along the Algerian border. The area is considered part of the Pre-Saharan Steppes and is known for its semi-arid climate.
Despite its remote location, it has become a popular tourist destination since the 1980s due to its proximity to Merzouga, which has over 70 hotels and related camps in the dunes. The nearest cities to Erg Chebbi are Rissani, Erfoud, and Marrakech.
Visitors can arrive by car, 4x4, or bus or opt for more traditional camel trekking or horse riding. It is also possible to take a guided 4x4 ride to explore the surrounding areas, such as the seasonal lake, where desert birds like the Egyptian nightjar and desert warbler can be spotted.
Visitors to Erg Chebbi should come prepared for the changeable weather with layered clothing and plenty of sunscreen and water. Overall, the experience of visiting Erg Chebbi in Merzouga is relaxing and adventurous, with various activities available to suit different interests and preferences. 
How to get there
Getting to Erg Chebbi in Merzouga can be an adventure in itself. Here's how you can do it:
- Start your journey in Casablanca. Take a train from Casa Voyageurs train station to Meknes.
- From Meknes, take a bus to Erfoud. The bus will travel south on the N13, which passes through mountainous terrain.
- The Atlas Mountains offer a glimpse of the region before reaching the Sahara desert.
- Merzouga is a small village that is a good starting point for exploring the desert or riding camels. You can find simple and affordable lodgings, such as sleeping bags and pads, in local family homes.
- If navigating large open spaces is not your forte, hiring a local guide can make the journey easy and fun.
- You can walk from Merzouga to the Erg Chebbi Dunes, around 5 kilometres away. It will take several hours to reach.
- The dunes are impossible to miss, reaching heights of 150 meters and lengths of 20 km, making them visible anywhere in the region.
- One fun fact about Erg Chebbi is that locals believe the warm desert sands are the best cure for rheumatism.
- Whether you travel alone or hire a guide, getting to Erg Chebbi in Merzouga will surely be an adventure you will never forget. 
Best time to visit
When planning a trip to Erg Chebbi in Merzouga, one of the most crucial factors to consider is the best time to visit. It is recommended to visit during the cooler months of October to April when temperatures are more comfortable, especially if you plan on engaging in outdoor activities such as camel trekking, sandboarding, or ATV rides. During this time, the average temperature during the day is around 25⁰C, and at night, it can drop to as low as 5⁰C. Nonetheless, do not be deterred by the cooler temperatures, as it is nothing a winter pyjama and a pair of socks cannot fix. On the other hand, it is best to avoid the extreme summer heat, especially in July and August, as temperatures often reach a scorching 45⁰C.
Overall, visiting Erg Chebbi in Merzouga is a memorable experience that is dependent on when you travel. It is essential to plan accordingly and pack appropriate clothing to ensure that your visit is enjoyable and comfortable. By choosing to visit during the cooler months of October to April, you can explore the Sahara Desert while enjoying pleasant temperatures and avoiding the sweltering summer heat. 
Activities in Erg Chebbi in Merzouga
Camel trekking in Morocco is an experience that should be on every traveller's bucket list. Erg Chebbi in Merzouga is the perfect place to do it. Riding on camels across the dunes of the Sahara Desert, watching the sun rise and set, and experiencing the nomadic way of life is simply unforgettable.
It can be daunting for first-timers to ride camels, but it is not that difficult with the right instructions and a little practice. Dressing appropriately to protect yourself from the rough skin and coarse hair of camels is also important.
In Erg Chebbi, there are many options for camel trekking, including:
- Multi-day treks
- Wild camping
- Staying with nomad families
There are also different camps, ranging from standard to luxurious, some even offering private bathrooms and kitchens.
Apart from camel trekking, there are many other activities to enjoy in Erg Chebbi, including:
- ATV rides
- Horse riding
- Star gazing
Sandboarding is a must-try activity for anyone visiting Erg Chebbi in Merzouga. It's an adventurous way to explore the impressive dunes in the Sahara desert.
The sandboarding program itinerary is easy and flexible. Once you arrive at the guesthouse, sandboards will be provided for you. You can either take them with you in your car and drive to the edge of the dunes or park your car and walk to the dunes.
Trying sandboarding at Erg Chebbi Dunes is a great way to discover the vastness of the desert and showcase your skills. The longer the dune, the longer the ride down, and it's certainly a fun activity to try. We recommend taking sandboards with you on camel treks or 4WD when exploring the desert.
When you reach your camp at one of the largest dunes, you can slide down the mountain of sand on your board. Of course, you should wear comfortable shoes for walking, sports sneakers, long-sleeved clothes, long pants or skirts, and a warm jacket during the trip.
ATV rides are among the most exhilarating ways to explore the Erg Chebbi desert in Merzouga. With the roar of the engine and the wind in your hair, you'll traverse the rolling dunes and feel the adrenaline rush like never before. And the best part? You can cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time.
ATV tours have plenty of options whether you're an experienced rider or a beginner. Expert guides will take you through the desert, highlighting hidden oases and stunning vistas. Even if you've visited the desert before, an ATV ride will give you a new perspective.
Just make sure to bring plenty of sunscreen and a sense of adventure! You'll have a safe and unforgettable experience tearing through the dunes with the right tour operator. And with expert instruction, even novice riders can feel confident and at ease.
If you're looking for a unique way to explore the Moroccan Sahara, horse riding may be just the thing for you. This traditional way of travelling through the desert allows you to admire the breathtaking views while feeling connected to the rich history and culture of the Berber people.
At Desert Luxury Camp, we offer guided horse rides that cater to all skill levels. Whether a beginner or an experienced rider, you'll be matched with a horse that suits your abilities.
As you ride through the dunes, you'll feel the warm breeze on your face, the sand crunching under the hooves, and the sound of the horse's breathing in your ear. It's a truly unforgettable experience that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.
Our experienced guides will lead you through the dunes, highlighting interesting features and sharing their knowledge of the desert.
One of the most breathtaking experiences in Erg Chebbi is stargazing. With little light pollution, the night sky becomes a canvas for millions of stars to paint their colours on. Guests often choose to sit around a campfire, sipping sweet mint tea and marvelling at the beauty above. It's a humbling reminder of the vastness and beauty of our universe.
The best time for stargazing is in the heart of the desert, where there are no artificial lights to compete with the natural ones. Guests lucky enough to visit during a meteor shower will be treated to an even more magnificent spectacle. There is something almost magical about staring upwards, watching as the sky reveals its hidden secrets and allowing the peace and tranquillity of the moment to wash over you.
Stargazing in Erg Chebbi is an unforgettable experience not to be missed during your visit to the Moroccan Sahara Desert. No matter how many stars you've seen before, trust us, you've never seen anything quite like this. 
Final thoughts on visiting Erg Chebbi in Merzouga
Visiting Erg Chebbi in Merzouga should be on your travel bucket list. There is something for everyone to enjoy, from the majestic dunes to the friendly Berber community.
It is important to ensure that you pack appropriately, including layers and sunscreen, to enjoy the experience fully. Whether you explore the desert via camel trekking, sandboarding, ATV rides, horse riding, or stargazing, there is no shortage of activities to keep you entertained.
Remember that the best time to visit is between November and March in the cooler months. At Desert Luxury Camps, we are committed to providing our clients with the best possible experience in the desert, and we offer a range of accommodation options to suit your needs.