Many travelers to Morocco want to explore the desert on their trip but, with several dunes to choose from, where should you begin? Taking a deep dive into one of Morocco’s most popular dunes, this guide gives you everything you need to know about Erg Chebbi.
Looking at everything from location and temperatures to accommodation and activities, we give you the local’s guide to this beautiful otherworldly landscape. As Moroccans who have been living and working in this area for decades, our perspective is as authentic as you’ll find!
At Desert Luxury Camp, we strive to give our visitors the essence of Morocco with a luxury twist. Across our camps in Erg Chebbi and Erg Chigaga, we have a range of accommodation options that do exactly that fitted with electricity, separate bathrooms, and even a swimming pool.
If you would like to discuss your travel options with us, please get in touch. But, for now, let’s take a look at all things Erg Chebbi in this ultimate guide to these Moroccan dunes.
Where is Erg Chebbi, Morocco?
Erg Chebbi, or the Sea of Dunes, is located to the west of Marrakech near a town called Merzouga. The drive from Morocco’s capital takes nine hours and you will be rewarded with large wind-blown dunes that can reach up to 150 meters high.
There are several ways to get to Erg Chebbi desert dunes, depending on your starting point. You can visit from Rissani or Erfoud, roughly half an hour to the north of Erg Chebbi, or Merzouga, a 10-minute drive south of Erg Chebbi.
The most common way to arrive is by car, 4×4, or bus. That being said, some people choose to more traditionally via camel or the more modern quad bike. The choice is yours!
The History of Erg Chebbi and Tourism
Erg Chebbi’s iconic peaks span 28 kilometers north to south and between five and seven east to west, near the Algerian border. While many believe it to be part of the Sahara desert, its semi-arid climate is considered to be part of the Pre-Saharan Steppes.
The area has been popular since the 1980s due to its proximity to Merzouga, the local tourist center. Merzouga is home to more than 70 hotels in the town and related camps in the dunes. Tourism is the main source of income in this area, with several hotels offering camel trips to Erg Chebbi and luxury camping.
With Morocco’s ergs becoming more accessible over time, visitors come from all over the world to experience the authentic desert experience.
What is the Climate in Erg Chebbi?
Weather in this region of Morocco is very changeable, but seasonal, meaning it is possible to visit year-round. While sandstorms can arise without warning, rainfall is highly infrequent, meaning there’s no need to pack an umbrella!
The temperatures between November and March are warm under the day’s sun, but at night can be as low as -5C. Summer is the warmest period, with midday temperatures reaching up to 45C. Due to the heat, most camel treks take place at sunrise or sunset, when temperatures drop to a cool 25C.
Who Lives in Erg Chebbi?
For hundreds of years, the nomadic Berber people have occupied the deserts of Morocco. Their way of life has been preserved over generations despite their transience and visitors can even visit the local community to share tea and stories.
The Berber community has shared their way of living with tourists in more ways than meets the eye. For example, camel treks and horse riding are traditional ways of traveling around the desert.
At Desert Luxury Camp, one of our founders Abdou, grew up in one of the Sub-Saharan Berber villages in the Draa Valley meaning he is an expert on this nomadic way of life. Hamid’s family were true Nomads few generations ago.
What Should I Pack for a Trip to Erg Chebbi?
While it may not seem like you’ll need layers and a warm jacket when you’re traveling to the desert, you will! By sunrise and sunset, the temperatures are much lower than the midday heat. When you’re planning to visit the desert, we recommend packing light items of clothing to layer.
We also advise desert visitors to bring plenty of sunscreen and water. If you are staying at one of our Desert Luxury Camps, we will provide water. If you wanted to bring a refillable bottle, this can also help avoid dehydration.
If you are traveling to Erg Chebbi in the winter, we recommend warm clothing, including hats and thermal vests. Also, if you are planning to ride a camel, long trousers or thicker leggings can be more comfortable.
We also recommend bringing a head torch for the dark evenings and wet wipes to help you freshen up while you’re on a day trip away from the camp. At Desert Luxury Camps, we have flushing toilets and hot and cold running water, so keeping clean isn’t a worry.
What Is There to Do in Erg Chebbi, Morocco?
Erg Chebbi is a relaxing destination, despite its popularity, and is a fun destination for couples, families, or older travelers due to the range of activities available.
Embarking on a camel trek is a wonderful way to explore the desert as people have done for centuries. But if you prefer something a little faster, taking a guided 4×4 drive gives you the freedom to choose your own adventure in Erg Chebbi.
See if you can find Merzouga’s seasonal lake on your trip. The water is a wonderful place to spot the desert birds, such as the Egyptian nightjars and desert warblers. Outdoor enthusiasts have their pick of activities, with hiking, quad biking, and horse riding to choose from.
Some visitors also partake in the ancient Berber custom of sand baths. This involves the body being ‘buried’ in the sand up to the neck, with the head covered in a cooling cloth or shaded by an umbrella. This treatment is believed to help with ailments affecting the joints and muscles.
For a deeper dive into the activities you can look forward to in Erg Chebbi and the surrounding areas, take a look at our Top 10 Fun Things To Do in Erg Chebbi blog.
Desert Luxury Camp’s adventure packages are customizable to accommodate any time frame and activity you may want to try around Erg Chebbi and Merzouga.
Where Can I Stay in Erg Chebbi?
There are several options for visitors wishing to travel to Erg Chebbi, whether you’d like to stay in a hotel or experience camping in the desert under the stars.
At Desert Luxury Camp, our Erg Chebbi camp has a range of tents you can choose to stay in. Perhaps you would like to be in closer proximity to other travelers and break bread over breakfast? Our Main Camp is equipped with all the private amenities but includes a shared restaurant tent.
By night, the camp comes to life with music and bright lights beneath the open dark sky. If you prefer a little privacy on your camping trip, or it’s a special occasion, our Dome Tent may be suitable. This tent offers spellbinding views to get lost in with that special someone.
While there’s no right or wrong way to enjoy the desert, we recommend staying for at least three days and two nights to fully soak up all of the experiences on offer in Erg Chebbi.
We hope our ultimate guide to Erg Chebbi answers your travel questions and entices you to our part of the desert! If you’d like to learn about Which Morocco Desert Camp is Right for You, check out our previous blog post on this topic.
Desert Luxury Camp is here to make your trip to the desert unforgettable, wherever you choose to stay. Our camps are waiting for you at Erg Chebbi and Erg Chigaga so you can begin your authentic Moroccan experience.
As always, you can contact us with any questions. Until next time, stay well travelers.