Merzouga Guide

Merzouga is a small village in southeastern Morocco, located about 35 kilometers southeast of Rissani, and 45 kilometers from Erfoud, along 50 kilometers from the border with Algeria.

Why Merzouga ?

Merzouga is a part of the Sahara desert  in the southern desert, known for the vast sand dunes, the adventure of camel trekking, the magical nights and many other experiences.

The modern aspect of modern life today has brought despair and many psychological problems, while others suffer from diseases related to engine noise …This new phenomenon pushes people to seek calm and places of absolute silence, away from engines and the noisy streets. That is why Merzouga is an optimal destination for this kind of travelers.

Medical reasons can be behind the increasing number of visitors to Merzouga, especially for making “sand bath” as an effective treatment for this health problem.

Out of the reasons mentioned above, you should go to Merzouga to experience the beautiful architecture of the Kasbahs in the way from Marrakech or the natural views of the middle Atlas mountains from Fes, the unique lifestyle of the local people and the breath-taking landscapes of the Sahara desert, and the splendid sensation of the camel ride (camel trekking) over the sand dunes !

Getting to Merzouga

Merzouga has become an increasingly vibrant location for travelers worldwide. The basic Transportation service to go to Merzouga is the private 4WD vehicle. You can reach Merzouga at the meeting point of Rissani or Directly from Erfoud, So either you come from Fes or Marrakech heading to Merzouga, you’ll be crossing through Erfoud, down to Rissani until you finally find yourself in Merzouga. Alternatively, Merzouga can be reached directly from Erfoud by crossing the boarding valley “Ziz”. It is important therefore to trace the suitable route in order to get to Merzouga.

From Fes (distance to Merzouga: 460 Km – Duration: 12 hours, non-stop)

 Arriving Fes, you should land in Saiss Airport, and then will pick our private 4WD car for an adventurous trip, by passing through fabulous and diverse landscapes. Your first point after Fes will be Ifran, a unique Moroccan town as it is nicknamed “Switzerland of Morocco”,Crossing the Atlas mountains through Azrou, passing by vast green areas of  Midelt until Errachidia, and then to Erfoud.

PS :You can fly to Errachidia from Casablanca ( or if possibly from Fes), on a Royal Air Maroc, so if you wish to shorten the timing to reach Merzouga. Errachidia has a national airport of 2 or 3 flights a week.

From Marrakech (distance to Merzouga: 560 Km – Duration: 13 hours non-stop)

Arriving Marrakech by plane at Marrakech Menara Airport, or via the Train from Casablanca or Fes, you’ll reach Merzouga by passing through a variety of places. Going through the Ti-shka pass (2,260 meters high)to Ouarzazate. From there via the Dades valley to Erfoud. Another way to be taken from Ouarzazate can be that of Agdz, located on the south,turning at Tansikht roundpoint,passing by a number of towns like Tazarine,Alnif untill  arriving Rissani.from Rissani or Erfoud to Merzouga is about 60 kms.

Getting around in Merzouga

Merzouga has, for longer, been one of Morocco’s best destinations. The area offers a lot to see, including a set of exciting activities and stunning places to discover. There are several ways of getting around Merzouga.

On foot

This is the best way to see around Merzouga with a close eye. Walking would let you enjoy the breath-taking landscapes as well as experience the adventure on rough lands, including Erg Chebbi sand dunes.

By Camel Trekking

Riding camels (locally called dromedaries) is the best way to experience the old travelling style of the nomads. Usually, you mount your Camel to see the splendid image of sunset and sunrise, while taking the opportunity to see around the drifting dunes from above the camels. You will discover the oasis and with its palm trees, formulating a “life” inside the desert.

By a 4WD car

If you prefer to experience Merzouga with a different taste, try a 4WD, either rent or as a passenger with one of our cars. Having an adventure brings the attention of a rally drive, especially when driving over the challenging off-roads and the drifting sand dunes.

Accommodation Merzouga

Merzouga offers a distinctive accommodation style. Unlike city hotels or resorts, Merzouga’s accommodation is a combination of the local art with the traditional architecture as it is adopted in the people’s building style. Hotels and Bivouacs are the main Accommodation possibilities for your stay in Merzouga.

Desert Hotels

Desert Hotels as in French “Auberges” are enormously available in the area; some of them are located next to the dunes, while others reside in the main town. All hotels are categorized in terms of the quality of services and most of them offer half-board options.

Rooms

Most of hotels have single rooms, double rooms and suites.

Single rooms:

They are tailored to give guests the maximum comfort in a Saharan environment. Thus, most rooms embody the Moroccan design.

Suites:

These types of rooms are available for groups, they are very warm and well decorated, designed for family stay and ensuring the authenticity of Merzouga’s architecture and style.

* All rooms and suites have a private / shower and air conditioning facilities.

You can either make your own reservation online, or contact us to book the appropriate hotel for you.

Other services applicable in desert hotels

Swimming pool: water renewed daily, tailored for both children and adults and is equipped with security and life vest and floating devices. Along them you can lie and enjoy the sun tanning. Towels are very clean and soft for your comfort.

Bivouacs

Bivouacs or night camps are ideal for customers seeking a traditional accommodation. Around 10 to 20 or more tents are available for you, shaping the nomadic accommodation style and offering a breath-taking night around the sand dunes. Most camps are equipped with light lamps, traditional decoration, hot water, showers, and kitchen. When you arrive at the bivouac you will be impressed by the beauty and magic of the surrounding environment. Calm and relaxation are the very frequent words you will often say! Once night falls, you will be amazed by atmosphere and the many stars making each minute exceptional!

Normally, you will be taken on camels from the hotel to the bivouac, and vice versa for the back.

Food and drinks in Merzouga

Morocco’s cuisine is globally recognised to be a distinctive trade mark in the five star restaurants! Like any region in the kingdom, Merzouga is a destination of the Moroccan cuisine in all its types and tastes. Couscous and Tagine comes at the top of the menu, and it differs from one place to another as recipes change. In Merzouga, Couscous and Tagine are made of fresh vegetables including carrots, onion… and meat on top. However, “Madfouna” remains a symbolic meal in the region, also nicknamed “Berber Pizza”, through which is stuffed of pieces of steak and eggs. You can order other small courses like the Moroccan salad with its flavour and diversity.

Where to eat?

There are a many restaurants and snacks in the downtown of Merzouga. All of restaurants offer delicious food from the Moroccan cuisine. You can check for the menu and select your preferred starter (mainly Salads) and your main course (includes a wide category of meals) and you will be served with tea and fruits at the end. However it is your wish to make your own order. Hotels also offer you meals during dinner and breakfast (included in your reservation), but lunch is excluded from your hotel reservation.

Sightseeing and attractions in Merzouga

Merzouga offers a splendid view of the Sahara. The combination of the sand dunes and the oasis are most what make the Sahara desert an extraordinary image. Kasbahs (fortified bastions) are a local trade mark which tells you about the artistic and architectural style of building. Another “must to see” scenery in Merzouga is the sunset and sunrise, both moments connect the sky with the land, forming a wonderful image which combines the red light of the sun with the golden sand dunes. Broad empty Hamadas are also to be seen, where no sand dunes no oasis, but an extension of wide empty lands with a few Savannahs here-and-there.

Things to do in Merzouga

A number of exciting activities makes your trip to Merzouga full of sensations! Therefore, a full day stay is essential to enjoy the place’s main attractions.

Most popular things to do in Merzouga and Erg Chebbi

The dream night

Camel trekking to the bivouac (Nomadic camp) is very recommended in Merzouga, it involves riding the Camels and crossing the sand dunes for a few miles before arriving at the bivouac. Your night begins with delicious food, prepared by professional chefs. Diner involves the typical Moroccan salad and a main course, which is usually tagin. After diner, you’ll come to enjoy musical shows of drams performed by the staff of the bivouac. You will end up enjoying a lifetime moment watching the full starry sky and get to sleep in a private tent.

Visiting the Nomads

Merzouga is an ideal area to make sense of the Nomadic life. The warmth hospitality of the Berber Bedouins is such a long life tradition. There you can sit under their tent, drink a cup of tea while meditating around the impressive old stuff of those people. The father (head of the family) is usually charged for making tea, the mother in her “house work” while the kids surround you with brighter faces. They welcome you with a charming smile and make you share their daily activities, such as herding of cattle, the traditional cooking style and listen to the enchanting Berber language they speak. Surely you’ll appreciate the moments as it remains a wonderful experience.

The Gnawa of Khamlia

Khamlia is a small village nearby Merzouga main town. The uniqueness of this village stands at the fact that all its inhabitants are black Africans, but speak Berber as their mother tongue. They were taken from Mali, Sudan and Senegal, and displaced to Morocco centuries ago. The inhabitants brought with them the folkloric aspect of their life as embodied through the Gnawa music.

If you have scheduled a full day in Merzouga, you’ll attend the show in Khamlia without prior notice, as all the bands are ready to perform for new visitors.

Sand Skating

This can be surprising for the majority of Merzouga goers! Skating is commonly practiced on Ice, but have you ever thought of trying it on the sand!?

Sand skating is an outstanding challenge for people seeking adventures on the sand dunes. If you are passionate about it, you can rent a skating board from one of the clubs in Merzouga, and enjoy your hobby with a different style over the sand dunes!

Cooking class in Merzouga

Merzouga is an optimal destination for special food of the region. Restaurants and Hotels offer classes in cooking Tagine, as well as a number of other dishes. Chefs and cooking professionals are at your disposal to show you how to make the authentic of Morocco’s cuisine, which comes Tagin; Couscous at the top. This experience will give you idea on the stylish Moroccan meals and the different methods it involves.

Weather in Merzouga

The location of Merzouga in the sahara desert ensures for the hot weather in most times. However, it is very important to know that temperature changes, depending on different criteria, among which is the climate atmosphere, night and day rolling and seasonal exceptions.

The general climate in Merzouga is typically hot. Rainfall is almost absent less than 100 mm per year. Temperatures are contrasting (14 ° C Average at winter and 35 ° C at summer. Nights can be very cold in winter, and cool at summer.

Sand storms

Sand storms are likely to be in Merzouga, because of the wind waves from the Sahara Desert. Rain can fall in the form of deluge, resulting streams and torrents. But the weather after that get cooler for several weeks after, even at summer.

NOTE

  • Because of the Climate change, we are unable to give predictions on weather at certain times, therefore, forecast changes quickly and surprisingly. So, when you’re planning to come to Merzouga, try to consult the situation of the weather one or two days before your departure.
  • Check the forecast information in Merzouga online on the side bar of our website.

Shopping in Merzouga

Shopping could be one of the motivations for coming to Merzouga. Like the most frequent visited cities in Morocco (Marrakech, Fes…) Merzouga also offers many shopping services from the local style. Shops in Merzouga are available in the form of bazaars, displaying the best and most authentic crafts and things which are part of the daily life of people.

There is a wide variety of things to buy in Merzouga, most of which are traditional clothes as wore by the local people. This includes carpets, jewelry, clothing and many other things.

Clothing

The characteristics of clothes in the Merzouga regions are made against external effects. Including wind blows, high temperature. However, it depends also on gender. Among these clothes is the “blue Jellaba”, common dress for men of the Sahara desert. It is a long dress, with loose sleeves and trouser and golden embroiders. Turban is a typical piece of cloth for the Sahara men. Found in colours and wore in different styles. Slippers are a local trade mark as well, used by men and women. However, black cloth with colourful and bright embroiders are used by Berber women, ensuring the conservative aspect of them.

Carpets

Among one of the most fascinating carpets in Morocco is the desert one. It has its own style and color. Carpets in Merzouga are made using traditional wooden tools. Variant in size and in wool. But they are used in decoration as well as furniture.

Jewelry

Jewelry are mostly made and used by women of the region. They appear to be an aspect of beauty by women, and are worn in special occasions like wedding ceremonies. Among jewelries you can find bracelets, necklaces, earrings… in particular shapes. They are made in gold, silver and also bronze.

Travel Tips

Is it safe to travel to Merzouga?

Totally yes, Morocco’s main policy towards tourism is the maintaining of safety of its guests. You may be labeled to unforeseen circumstances if you choose unreliable travel company, or if you go to suspicious places. But we advise you to consult local authorities about any harassment or problems you may face, policemen are in most frequent visited places to ensure security of its goers. There is a police center in Merzouga which you can consult to check for information on safety in the region.

What is the best time to visit Merzouga?

Generally speaking, the best period of the year to visit Merzouga is at winter and early Spring. During these times, the temperature is quite moderate, which is optimal for travelers to enjoy the sun without negative outcomes. However, it depends on your availability and your favorite temperature, because some travelers prefer extreme hot for medical purposes; e.g.: Summer time is known for travelers seeking “sand bath” as a treatment to rheumatism and cold.

What is the normal dress code in Merzouga?

You are free to wear whatever you want in Merzouga, but certain norms have to be respected because of the conservative life aspects of the local people. Unlike Casablanca, Marrakech or so ever, Merzouga’s population are very sensitive to the modern life aspect, which includes short skirts or transparent clothes. Therefore, it is very important to cover your legs (particularly for women) and wear appropriately according to the customs of the people in the region.

Single woman traveling alone?

We do not recommend women to travel alone to Merzouga, but our company assures the safety of every single traveler, whether male or female, alone or in company. A single woman may not feel comfortable during her stay in Morocco ( or in Merzouga too); because she may face sexual harassment for frequent times, therefore it is better, if you are a single woman, to be accompanied with a trusted and official guide who provides you with the total care and safety in the limit of service only.

What if I am stung when having a sand bath?

The average of being stung by insects in a sand bath is 1 %. We have never witnessed any situation when somebody is being stung by insects. All previous patients who had the sand bath did not complain on this issue. But you needn’t worry as there is an infirmary in Merzouga, to help you heal any infection you may encounter within the sand bath process or during your whole stay in Merzouga.

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