The Sahara Desert, Moroccan Style
The Sahara is home to approximately 2 million people spread across its 9 million square kilometres in north Africa. There are permanent communities established near water sources and then there are nomadic tribes. Morocco’s Berbers are nomads and the isolation of the desert has helped to maintain their own language and culture. The Berbers are also helping in opening up this magnificent landscape to tourists.
Morocco is a country of varied landscapes. Seaside towns, mountain villages and desert settlements. Morocco is one of the best African countries to visit if you want to experience the Sahara.
Turning it on for the photographers is Erg Chebbi. Here you will find the wind-blown dunes up to 150 metres high which stretch from north to south for about 50 kilometres. At sunset Erg Chebbi comes alive. Revealing warm pink hues within its sand to flashes of brilliant orange, these desert sand dunes complete the quintessential Sahara Desert visit. Erg Chebbi is also the most easily accessible just outside of Merzouga Village with its sealed roads.
If this seems a little bit too pedestrian for you and you want something more authentic and less busy with tourists. Then you need to head to Erg Chegaga. These dunes are about 60 kilometres south from the nearest paved roads, but are worth the two day camel trek (sure you can 4x4 out here, but you wanted authentic). The rocky terrain gives way to tamarisk oases and then reveals the highest dunes in Morocco, up to 300 metres.
A visit to the desert needs to be completed with a desert camp stay. If you head to Erg Chegaga, then you have no choice but to stay in the desert. Morocco’s Sahara Desert Camps are inspired by the Berbers’ traditional camps. The tents form a rectangle, with their entrances all facing inward to a common area of layered rugs used for eating. There is a desert camp for every type of traveller.
The luxurious desert camps tend to be closer to towns as they boast modern amenities like electricity and running water. The luxury camps have larger tents, fixed beds, flushing toilets, lamps and carpets. Some even offer spa services to help you really unwind.
The best time for visiting the Sahara Desert is between October and April when the day time temperatures are bearable. But be aware that in December and January, the night time temperatures drop to below freezing.
From here the “Blue City”