Erg Chebbi

These are the most accessible hills of the Sahara in Morocco but are not easily organized into a short trip, which is about 10 hours’ driving time from Fez and at least as much from Marrakesh, so realistically you need at least three-day round trip to fit them in. They are best organized as part of an itinerary between Marrakesh and Fez, or as a tour through the southern oases from Marrakesh. 
 
These extensive dunes formed by golden sand offer visitors an iconic taste of the Sahara’s constantly changing landscape. Spanning more than 50 kilometers near the border of Algeria between the wind-blown sand, these towering shapeshifters prove a destination for locals and tourists alike. While nearby Merzouga is considered the tourist center of this area, it’s the overnight journeys, either by foot, camel or car, into the desert that provides visitors to Erg Chebbi with the stunning Moroccan escape.
If the timing works out, you will be able to stop along the way to sit on the marvelous dunes and watch the sunset.  Once you arrive at your camp, you will be amazed by the beauty of nature and you will see how the stars are very near to you! Then, you will head back out on your camel before sunrise, so that you can reach a good vantage point for the sunrise on your way back to the Kasbah. Fortunately, you may also have a chance to do some hiking in the dunes or go sandboarding.  You can also have quad bikes for rent.
 

Erg Chebbi

Culture in Erg Chebbi


Morocco is well known for its different music and the unique drumming culture that originated in Erg Chebbi is famous throughout the country. The sound of this particularly exotic style of drumming is sure to make your heart beat faster and your body excited to dance. In line with tradition, a drumming session is often not without an invitation to enjoy a cup of sweet Moroccan tea.
Those who live in the desert are genuinely proud of their genetic ancestry. Having had the chance to meet them and be invited to join a typical desert tea ceremony is an experience that will stay with me forever.
 

Camping in the golden desert 


Camps in the desert tend to be basic and simple, even the luxury ones.  At the simpler end, you can expect a rustic Berber tent set up around a simple table. You will sit on rugs on the floor for dinner and will sleep on thin mats on the ground. Facilities will be basic to feel and enjoy the simple life, either at the mercy of mother nature. The more luxury camps have additional extras such as beds, tables and chairs to dine on and some even have showers. However, think hard about whether you need these extras. You might get more out of the experience if you go basic and forget about the mod cons for a night. If you don't like the idea of camping in the desert, then you can go for the camel trek in the dunes and then sleep in the Kasbah instead.
The time in the Sahara Desert calming, a much-needed chance to stand back and reconnect with me. It also gave me a chance to reconfirm to myself that life is best lived being enjoyed to the fullest.
The favorite part of Erg Chebbi is the ever-changing golden tone of the dunes as the sun passes from sunrise to sunset, rich earth tones contrasted by deep green oases and the crisp white clothing of its inhabitants create an unreal spectacle of colors.
 

Erg Chebbi

Camel Trekking at Erg Chebbi


You don't need any experience of riding to a camel trek. You just need to hold on tight and let the camel do the work and enjoy it very well!  The camels will be attached to each other on a train and lead at the front by a walking guide. It can feel quite dangerous initially when you are perched on top of a camel (and quite unbalanced) but once you get used to the motion, you will be able to sit back and enjoy the magnificent scenery.
While hiking across the dunes, and bumped into this solitary donkey are the easiest. Apparently, Morocco is a place to expect the unexpected and feel this confirms it. And also, yes, donkeys do climb sand dunes!
 

Erg Chebbi

Best time of year to visit Erg Chebbi


You can visit all year round, although because of the long distances required, visiting Marrakech during Ramadan is not a good idea because of the heat of summer. 
Temperature-wise, between November and March it can be warm in the sun during the day, but at night there can be further low.  In the summer, midday temperatures can reach 45 C. For this reason, most tours arrange the camel trekking at sunrise/sunset in Summer.
Dreaming of Erg Chebbi Tours? Once you see the enormous dunes, resting at the edge of the Sahara Desert, Erg Chebbi is not a town or village, but a 30km range of golden and rose-colored dunes that are a “must-see” destination in Morocco. You need to take the decision to take a road trip to see it!

Erg Chebbi
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