5 must-see desert spots in Morocco
5 must-see desert spots in Morocco, More than just a discovery, a trip to the desert is a true encounter with a world light years away from our everyday lives.
A land of contrasts and contradictions, the desert is not to be discovered, but encountered. This extreme natural environment offers an infinite variety of terrains, landscapes and atmospheres. Naked and seemingly empty, it serves as a showcase for a life as fragile as it is fleeting, which is discovered by those who relearn to look. A true experience to visit this beautiful country.
In the midst of infinite horizons, the traveler who sets out to meet it ends up rediscovering the sources of his humanity and the striking beauty of the daily spectacle our planet offers. An encounter that can turn into a mystical experience. “Look at the desert in the morning and die, if you can!” summed up British archaeologist Gertrude Bell.
With their unique features and characteristics, the 5 places we’ve suggested have all the makings of a wonderful encounter with the Moroccan deserts.
1. Chegaga dunes, the desert in its wild state
The largest dune massif in Morocco, Erg Chegaga stretches over 40 km and is 15 km wide in the Sahara Desert, not far from the Hamada du Draâ. The Chegaga dunes offer a wonderful immersion in the Sahara desert. They have retained their wild state, and the height of the highest dunes is nothing short of impressive.
Quite difficult to access, Erg Chegaga is a destination often proposed by 4×4 excursions departing from Zagora or M’hamid el Ghizlane. However, it is preferable to reach it by camel during a 3 or 4-day camel trek.
2. Merzouga dunes, a desert dream
With its golden sand dunes, the Erg Chebbi is a sight remarkably close to our idea of the desert. Set at the foot of a flat desert, these vast expanses of sand rise spectacularly to over 160 meters in a landscape marked to the west by the last foothills of the Anti-Atlas.
This exceptional setting has all the ingredients for a dreamy little desert. Easily accessible from the village of Merzouga, it has been the setting for many films, including the legendary “Lawrence of Arabia“. To add even more flavor to your encounter, arrive by camel shortly before dusk and spend the night at the foot of the dunes in a bivouac.
Here are some recommendations for activities in the Merzouga region:
In the early morning, wake up before the first light of the sun to climb a high dune to witness the dazzling spectacle of sunrise over the Sahara desert. Unforgettable!
3. Desert Agafay, initiation to the desert
An Arab proverb says “God created the desert, then, furious, threw stones at it.” There’s little doubt that he was particularly unhappy with this expanse of desert. Situated on a plateau in the High Atlas overlooking the vast plain leading to Marrakech, the reg Agafay is a vast mid-mountain stony desert.
Dotted with canyons and oases, earthen dunes and vast lunar expanses, it transports you to an arid landscape far removed from Western clichés. Whether on foot, on horseback or behind the wheel of an all-terrain vehicle, the explorer’s mind quickly wanders to the subtle nuances of this hostile environment. Immersion is total, initiation complete…
Here are some recommendations for activities in the Agafay Desert:
The Agafay desert can be explored on a day trip. Many camps have also been set up to offer a desert baptism in Marrakech.
Accommodation in the Agafay Desert
In the heart of the Agafay desert, there are a number of authentic places to spend a night out of the ordinary. We recommend the following accommodations:
4. Tarfaya, Saint-Exupéry’s desert
A former colonial trading post built in the middle of the desert on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, the small town of Tarfaya is better known to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry fans by its former name: Cap Juby.
The setting for the author’s discovery of the Moroccan desert, the area around Tarfaya sowed the seeds of a passion that would, a few years later, give life to his masterpiece “The Little Prince”.
If this peaceful little town doesn’t hold any particular interest, that’s not the case with its surroundings. Immerse yourself in the surrounding desert to discover the breathtaking spectacle of Sebkhas and dry lakes. You’ll come away amazed – and perhaps even inspired!
5. Dakhla, the desert with the white dune
A strategic town in the Western Sahara, known as one of the top destinations for kitesurfing, Dakhla was also a stopover for Aeropostale. In this particularly windy region, the Sahara desert, before plunging into the Atlantic Ocean, makes a final jolt in the form of a high mound of white sand: the white dune. From its summit, you can witness the meeting of these two antagonistic environments in a wild, virginal space.
Traditional tented camps allow you to spend the night under the stars of the Sahara desert, lulled by the yelps of the region’s abundant desert fauna. A complete change of scenery, light years away from mass tourism.
Travel in the Moroccan desert! Practical details
Being prepared when traveling in the desert is crucial to a positive and enjoyable experience. That’s why it’s important to know what to bring and what not to forget.
What to wear in the Moroccan desert
To find the perfect balance between comfort and protection from the elements, it’s essential to know the characteristics of the different regions and prepare accordingly.
First of all, you need to choose the right clothing to suit the climatic conditions. The sun is very strong, the wind blows very hard and temperatures can be very high during the day. It is therefore advisable to wear light, loose-fitting clothing, such as long dresses or wide-legged pants.
Synthetic materials such as nylon and polyester should be avoided, as they retain heat and can cause overheating. Natural materials such as cotton are more breathable and absorb moisture better.
When it comes to clothing color, it’s best to choose light tones such as beige or white, which reflect sunlight and reduce the sensation of heat. In addition, you should wear a hat or cap to protect your head and face from the sun’s harmful UV rays. This can also help keep your body cool as you travel over rocky paths or across sand dunes.
5 must-see desert spots in Morocco
It’s worth noting that terrain-appropriate footwear should be worn to ensure good traction on the rocky, sandy or sandy surfaces of the Moroccan desert. Sturdy shoes such as military rangers are ideal, as they offer good protection against sharp rocks and other obstacles on the trail.
Another thing to consider when planning your desert Morocco tours is adequate sun protection. It’s essential to bring sunscreen to protect against the sun’s harmful UV rays, especially if you plan to spend a lot of time exploring archaeological sites or hiking in the Moroccan desert. Sunscreen lotion with a high protection factor (SPF 30 or higher) should be applied frequently to avoid unwanted sunburn and other harmful effects caused by the intense sun.
What to bring and what not to forget when going to the Moroccan desert?
The most important thing is to always wear appropriate clothing, as mentioned above. Light, breathable clothing is essential to withstand the high desert temperatures, as are extra layers for the night. Comfortable, closed-toe shoes are also recommended for walking or riding through the sand, as are hats or caps for protection from the sun.
Accessories are also very important when visiting the desert. A well-equipped backpack is essential to carry everything you need, including a first-aid kit filled with basics such as bandages, painkillers and antiseptics.
5 must-see desert spots in Morocco
Also bring a flashlight, a multi-purpose knife and a lighter, as well as a small folding ground sheet. Another important point to consider is hydration. A large container of water can be useful if you’re going to spend several days in the desert, but it’s best to carry reusable bottles and purifying tablets if you don’t have access to a drinking source. Energy drinks can be useful for recharging batteries and maintaining optimal hydration levels.
Last but not least, don’t leave without taking along a few sweets and easy-to-carry snacks such as dried fruit or energy bars. You should also take a few of your favorite personal items, such as a favorite book, relaxing music or simply a pair of binoculars to explore the spectacular landscapes of the Moroccan desert.