Merzouga is a small dusty town in Morocco about 450 miles from Marrakech and close to the Algerian border. Ouarzazate is the closest large town. Merzouga is 50 km from the town of Erfoud and Rissani. It is the gateway to the Moroccan desert.
Merzouga lies in the heart of of Erg Chebbi, a 50km long and 5km wide set of sand dunes that reach up to 350m. The landscape constantly changes with the wind sweeping the dunes into new formations and the sun changing the colour of the sand at different times of the day turning from pink to gold to red. The Erg Chebbi is like the great Ergs accross the border in Algeria. The largest dunes are near Merzouga and Hassi Labied. At night, you only have to walk a little wayout into the sand, away from the light, to appreciate the immensity and clarity of the desert sky and the brilliance of the stars.
Tourists come to Merzouga to go camel trekking and to experience the quiet stillness and immensityof the desert and the stars at night followed by the sunrise and sunset which is an amazing experience. Local berber tribesman can peform dances and their traditional music and tourists can spend the night in tented camping areas sampling traditional Moroccan cuisine and music by the camp fire.
Make sure you get a turban before setting out into the desert as protection from the heat and the dust.Carry a water bottle and ensure you secure the best bargains for your trips into the desert and pay attention to what is and is not provided.
Merzouga has a number of guest houses and riads if spending the night in a bivouac is not your choice. There are about 50 guest houses of varying categories along the sand dunes, and most of them own camels and can arrange for an extended trek, bird watching and other Sahara activities.
Other activities include trips into the desert by4X4 ,quad biking,hot air ballooning and sand skiing. You can bird watch around the Dayet Srji where there is a lake with flamingos. The Dayet Srji is a salt water lake and offers excellent bird viewing with lots of Egrets, Storks and Shelducks.
The summer months from June to September Merzouga can very hot during the day,, temperatures average around 115 Fahrenheit (45 C) during the summer and it’s obviously very dry. Nights in the desert do get much colder however and you’ll need a good jacket and pullover even if it is swelteringly hot during the day. If you do visit Merzouga during summer months find a hotel with a swimming pool.In March and April there are sandstorms as the Sirocco whips up. The best time to visit is from October to February.