The expanse of the Sahara desert which stretches across Morocco is divided into two main regions; the Erg (dunes) Chebbi and the Erg Chigaga. Both provide the spectacle of rolling, velvet sand dunes for as far as the eye can see, with the mountains of Algeria as a backdrop when looking east. Whether you decide to visit the Chigaga or the Chebbi dunes, you will enjoy beautiful camel treks, serene sunsets treks and stunning star lit nights, but each region had it’s own unique charm.
It can also be guaranteed that your journey from the Imperial cities of Fez or Marrakesh will take you through significant changes in landscape before you hit the dunes themselves; over mountains, barren rocky plateaus and lush oasis valleys. The route from Fez to Merzouga will take you over the green and fertile Middle Atlas mountains and alongside the Ziz Valley palmeries, while Marrakesh to Chigaga will take you over the High Atlas and through the Draa Valley palmeries.
The Erg Chebbi region is more easily accessed, with well built roads taking you right up to the face of the dunes. It sees increased tourism as a result. A short walk from the historic trans-Saharan caravan-route town of Merzouga, and you’ll find yourself totally immersed by the Chebbi dunes. The Chebbi region has the tallest dunes in Morocco, which is another reason why it’s the most popular choice, and its views of mountains in Algeria are pretty dramatic.
The Erg Chigaga dunes “proper,” can only be accessed by a camel trek or a 4WD vehicle, making it less visited, more remote, and wild – as nature intended. Although its dunes aren’t as tall as Chebbi’s, it’s expanse of rolling dunes into the distance and the wild shrubbery on the fringes give it a more rustic, desert safari feel. Here you will see nomads casually going about the day and may even get to see a nomadic school camp, a travelling school for nomadic children, depending on if one is in the region.
This photo essay captures glimpses of scenes from both regions and routes toward the Sahara, with captions indicating where each picture was taken. We hope this will make you want to come visit as well!
Scenes from the Sahara Desert
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