An Ocean of Sand is one of those clichés used far too often to describe some of the more amazing deserts in the world, but when the desert is as large as the entire United States, does that old cliché suddenly become valid? The Sahara Desert is enormous, stretching from one end of northern Africa to the other, from the Atlantic to the Red Sea. Morocco is one of many nations that carve into the world’s most famous desert, and Morocco offers several of the best Sahara Desert tours in Morocco you can find.

Most Sahara Desert tours will take you by the villages of Merzouga and Erfoud via camel. The traditional way of travel through the historical Sahara trade routes is still the same today. If you chose to travel into the desert, you will be trekking known routes by riding camels with experienced guides. You will all travel before or after the sun reaches its midday height and the temperatures climb higher than you have probably ever felt before.

Do away with any images of wild horseman brandishing rifles—those days are only around in Hollywood movies. The Bedouin tribes in Morocco are very peaceful and friendly.

As you visit around Merzouga and Erfoud, notice the Bedouin tribes that you may pass by or visit with. Many of the Arabs and Berbers in the tribes live in exactly the same way as they have for centuries and still follow the traditions of their culture. Do away with any images of wild horseman brandishing rifles—those days are only around in Hollywood movies. The Bedouin tribes in Morocco are very peaceful and friendly, and have traditions of hospitality. If you fear being treated differently because you are an American, sweep it away! Hospitality in Morocco has been a long tradition, and here’s a piece of trivia for you: Morocco was the first nation to officially recognize the United States as an independent country.

The desert is often flat and appearing barren with many small rocks. The conventional image of rolling sand dunes does exist, but further out. Merzouga is the best destination to see actual giant sand dunes. It is here, in the area of a Morocco map, where the most towering walls of sand can be seen in all of Morocco. Here the Sahara exceeds every single hope and expectation. The sheer size of the sand dunes is a very humbling experience for many travelers. A full moon over the desert night is brilliant, as well as sunrises and sunsets, both of which are famous in the Sahara because of their magnificence.

Merzouga is best described as an oasis area. This is one of the few areas in the desert where water can be found via wells—making it an obvious choice for a settlement. If you want an “odd” sight, there is a lake further south called Dayet Sriji. While it is very low, and very salty (as most desert lakes are), many individuals are still surprised to see a lake that is in the Sahara, and the abundance of bird life there, including flamingos.

Erfoud may not be the typical tourist destination on a normal tour in Morocco, but that just makes it all the more attractive to those trekkers who like to go off the beaten path. The town of Erfoud inherits its appearance and rise in population from the time of French colonization. The French didn’t believe they could fully defeat the proud and independent Berber people, many of whom make up the remaining Bedouin nomads, but by having a strong military presence in the south, they believed the show of power would be enough to allow a “live and let live” philosophy that would allow them to govern the rest of the colony effectively Erfoud is used to the off-the-beaten path tourist in Morocco: the hikers, trekkers, and explorers. The town works as a good base camp for several popular explorations, from the local Ziz valley, to the Merzouga sand dunes that are a must see in any Morocco tour of the Sahara, to many other local itineraries.

Many travelers find the Sahara too beckoning to resist, and why not? There are few areas that can claim to be the biggest or best in the world. From Erfoud the greatest of the Saharan sand dunes in Merzouga are only a stone’s throw away.