The Sahara desert stretches over ten countries, but the best way to explore it is by visiting Morocco. The North African country has many ergs formed by a sea of dunes with different tones depending on the region. Visiting the desert is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, where travelers can sleep in luxury tents in the desert.
For decades, the Erg Chebbi was the only erg on tourists' radar, making it the most famous erg in Morocco. It's easy to understand why as it has appeared in many movies, helping tourism in the region. As a result, the Erg Chebbi became more developed, offering more hotels and agencies. Yet, tourists are slowly discovering Erg Chigaga, which is off-grid and seems to have remained untouched through the centuries.
What To Expect From Erg Chebbi?
Erg Chebbi is located in the south, impressing tourists with a sea of dunes that can stand up to 490-foot and stretch over 13 miles. Many tourists decide to stay at Mergouza, the closest city to Erg Chebbi, near the Algerian border. The place became the main tourist attraction during the 1980s, and since that, agencies have developed different types of tours in the region. Erg Chebbi is unarguably the most famous dunes of Morocco, and its distinguish orange landscape has appeared in countless movies.
The Structure For Tourists Is Better
The region has been a tourist attraction for over four decades and is a more popular destination as every agency has tours to Erg Chebbi. Travelers can sleep in a tent in the desert or one of the many hotels in Mergouza after spending the day exploring the dunes. Tours often offer the option of sleeping in the desert, which can be a luxurious experience, depending on the type of the tour.
During the day, tourists can explore Erg Chebbi on camel trekking. It is also possible to do a 4x4 tour and practice sandboarding on Erg Chebbi's enormous dunes. The sunrise and sunset in the region are also worth the attention, as it's a magnificent experience watching the sun emerging in the desert.
How To Get To Erg Chebbi?
Travelers might be prepared to be on the road for many hours before arriving at Erg Chebbi, which is reachable by bus or 4x4. The guided tours from Marrakesh include transportation on a 4x4, an experienced driver, food, and accommodation. It takes two days to arrive at Erg Chebbi, but there are several interesting stops along the way. The price depends on each agency.
The closest bus station to Erg Chebbi is at Merzouga. Buses are leaving from Marrakech, Fez, and Meknes.
When To Visit Erg Chebbi?
It's possible to visit Erg Chebbi year-round, but it's essential to know what kind of weather to expect in the desert. Between October and May, tourists can find mild temperatures, from 59 °F (15 °C) to 84 °F (29 °C), and this is probably the best period to explore the Erg Chebbi. In July, it's scorching during the day, and the temperatures go up to 107 °F (42 °C), and they can drop to 5⁰C (41 °F) in the evening.
What To Expect From Erg Chigaga?
Erg Chigaga is located in southern Morocco, part of the Iriqui National Park, the largest in Morocco. There are no cities around, so this is the perfect spot to experience the quiet nights in the desert and stargazing. The closest town is Mhamid (a.k.a M'Hamid), 25 miles away from the desert, which is much less touristic than Mergouza. Tourism in Erg Chebbi is often described as rustic, but being one of the few people standing on those enormous golden ergs is a unique feeling.
Erg Chigaga Is More Rustic
For centuries, Mhamid was an isolated oasis near the border with Algeria. Slowly, the town is entering the radar of tourists due to its proximity to Erg Chigaga. The hotels are scanty, but slowly, they are making their way into the region. Agencies also provide accommodation in the desert, so tourists can enjoy the wonders of a night in the desert.
The tours are similar to the other erg and include camel rides, 4x4 tours, and luxury camps on the dunes. The sunrise and sunset are other highlights in the region.
How To Get To Erg Chigaga?
The closest airport is at Ouarzazate, 160 miles away. Travelers can get a bus to Mhamid from Casablanca, Marrakech, Ouarzazate, Zagora or Tagounite. There are also 4x4 tours living from Marrakesh, and it takes two days to arrive at Erg Chigaga. The tour will stop at Tizi n Tichka, Ouarzazate and Zagora during the travel. After arriving in the erg, travelers will explore the dunes on camels or 4x4.
It's possible to sleep in the desert for at least one night, and some agencies will entertain tourists with local music.
When To Visit Erg Chigaga?
The best time to visit Erg Chigaga is between March and May and from September to November. During those months, the temperatures are often between 62 °F and 68 °F
(17-20⁰C), making traveling easier. In the summer, the weather tends to be too hot during the day and cold during the night.
Choosing between Erg Chebbi and Erg Chibaba depends on the itinerary and what people expect to see. Those who want to experience something off-grip should go to Erg Chibaba, while those who demand more structure should go to Erg Chebbi.