Posts Tagged ‘Erg Chebbi’

Morocco’s Great Deserts, Your Morocco Tour Guide

Friday, May 1st, 2015
Morocco's Great Deserts, M'hamid

Morocco’s Great Deserts, M’hamid









Although, compared to neighbouring Algeria, Morocco has only a fraction of the Great Sahara Desert within its territory, yet Morocco offers the safest and best-organized access to the Sahara of the whole of North Africa. Whether you want a quick glimpse of the magnificent dunes on camelback, the thrill of sand boarding down the dunes, an overnight experience under the vast starry skies in a nomad’s tent, or a longer excursion to explore the expanse of the dune complex and the people who inhabit it, Morocco has it all. There is nowhere else where you could be in some of Africa’s highest snow-tipped mountain ranges and in the depth of the sandy expanses of the desert in the same day. And your trip to Morocco’s Great Deserts will take you through centuries-old oases on route. Along the way, you will meet local nomads and villagers whose families have worked this land and survived its hardships for generations.

Morocco lies on the northwesterly tip of the African continent with a long Atlantic coast. This coast runs approximately southwest to northeast. Almost parallel to the coast, behind the fertile plains of Morocco’s principal rivers, are the Atlas Mountain ranges (from north to south, the Middle, High and Anti-Atlas). The Sahara desert begins in the foothills of these mountains on their eastern (interior) side. Sandwiched between the mountains and the Algerian border are the principle dune regions of Morocco. Further south, the Sahara meets the ocean where Sahara cities Laayoune and Ad Dakhla are known for their sandy dunes, unique flora, bird life and beaches.

Erg Chebbi Dunes, Merzouga Sahara Desert

Erg Chebbi Dunes, Merzouga Sahara Desert









Starting in the north, the most frequently visited dune network is at Erg Chebbi, near the towns of Rissani and Merzouga. Erg Chebbi’s dunes are the largest in Morocco, with some reaching around 150m in height. They cover an area of 50km (31 miles) from north to south and are about 5-10 km (3-6 miles) across. This area is easily accessible from Fes (via the Middle Atlas). A longer drive from Marrakech, takes visitors via the spectacular Tiz n’Tichka pass and the city of Ouarzazate or the stunning Dades Valley. This accessibility and the size of the dunes have meant that the infrastructure around the dunes at Erg Chebbi is very well developed, both in terms of desert bivouacs, luxury desert camps and guesthouses and hotels. This is great for those visitors who want a convenient way to see the desert on a tight itinerary, but those with more time or who seek to explore the Sahara in greater depth may prefer a more remote destination.

Further south, and also reached via Ouarzazate (but this time via the beautiful Drâa Valley and its date palm oases and ancient defensive kasbahs) are the desert areas around Zagora and M’Hamid. At Zagora, you can see the famous sign indicating “TOMBOUCTOU 52 JOURS,” (“52 days to Timbuktu”), which gives an indication of the importance of the desert and this region in particular for the camel caravans and trade routes of the past. Today, Zagora is a popular starting point for trips on camelback into the Sahara. The landscape here is flatter, although there are dunes at Tinfo, and near the town agriculture is relatively well developed, giving a different desert experience.

Erg L’Houdi (meaning the Dunes of the Jews) and Erg Ezahaar (the Screaming Dunes) are respectively one or four days’ camel ride from M’Hamid, which is itself around 100km (60 miles) further along the Drâa Valley towards the Algerian border. The paved road ends here. M’Hamid feels much more like a nomadic outpost. Being much more remote, this area is considerably less visited and many of the local sites of interest, such as sacred springs, ancient zaouias (sites of religious pilgrimage in honour of saints) and local Berber and nomadic villages are more easily (and comfortably) accessed in a 4×4 vehicle with an experienced guide. Being such an important region for trade and artisans, the area between Zagora and M’Hamid features some interesting historical and cultural sites, such as the village of Amezrou – base of former Jewish silversmiths with an Ancient Jewish Mellah – and Tamagroute, with its pottery cooperative, zaouia and Koranic Library.

Erg Chegaga Sahara Desert

Erg Chegaga Sahara Desert









The last of the four main dune networks is Erg Chegaga, between M’Hamid, 50km (30 miles) west of the town towards the settlement of Foum Zguid. After Erg Chebbi, these are the second most popular dune destination. Erg Chegaga has the highest dunes in this southerly area, but they are still considerably lower than the dunes at Erg Chebbi to the north. A favourite activity is to scramble to the top of the dunes in time for sunrise over the Sahara. Running uphill on sand is not an easy task, so this is an activity for early risers only!

Many visitors to Morocco manage to fit in an overnight stay under canvas or in a Kasbah-style hotel at one of the main dunes areas of Erg Chebbi or Erg Chegaga. However, for the more adventurous or those wishing really to escape the distractions of the modern world, the trip down to south to Morocco’s Great Deserts and also to M’Hamid and beyond is certainly worthwhile. For those with less time, however, the larger dunes still offer the chance to get away from it all. And while a journey on camelback is certainly not the most luxurious in terms of comfort, it is unlike anything else! Climb aboard the “ship of the desert” and image the great trains of camels, which once crossed this magnificent sandy expanse, transporting gold, silver, and salt across the African continent!

Written by Lynn Sheppard 

Lynn Sheppard has lived in Essaouira, on Morocco’s Atlantic Coast for more than 2 years, supporting local non-profits, writing and becoming an expert on all things Swiri (ie. Essaouiran). She blogs at and for other travel industry clients.

For more information about Morocco’s Great Sahara Desert Tours

Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Seaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villages, A Taste of Morocco, Magical Kasbahs, Ruins & Waterfalls, Absolute Morocco, The Best of Marrakech, Fes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.  We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

The 6 Best Views of Morocco, Morocco Tour Guide

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

Morocco is such a photogenic country. The Best Times to Travel to Morocco and discover the 6 Best Views is spring and fall. The bright, Mediterranean sunshine makes for a special light, whether you are photographing deserts, mountains, cities, dunes or coastal scenery. The colors of the natural elements, the architecture and the handicrafts such as carpets, highly polished teapots, hand-stitched and embroidered leather babouches slippers or flowing caftans make for great subjects, as do the people and animals of Morocco. It’s best to always ask before taking someone’s picture and don’t be offended if they refuse given many Moroccans are modest and private. Morocco also has several stunning vistas which you will want to snap during your trip. Here is a lowdown of where to go to capture the six best views of Morocco.

Fes Medina View

Fes Medina View










The ancient capital of Fes is such a dense, labyrinthine city that when you are in it, it is hard to imagine getting an overview of the place. To get the best view, it is necessary to climb above the hustle and bustle of street level, to get away from the jostle of the souk and rise above the walls. The best place to do this is actually outside the medina (old city) at Les Merinides Hotel. Situated on a hill overlooking the medina, this five-star hotel has three restaurants (La Kouba du Ciel on the top floor; L’Impérial French restaurant and La Terrasse de Fès at the poolside), all of which offer panoramic views of Old Fes.

Moulay Idriss View

Moulay Idriss View








Moulay Idriss

The main draw of this most holy of Moroccan cities is the mausoleum of Idriss I, the founder of the Kingdom of Morocco and credited with the introduction of Islam to this north western corner of Africa. The mausoleum occupies a large footprint in the medina, but is not accessible to non-Muslims. However, it is still worthwhile stopping at Moulay Idriss and hiking up to the highest point in the medina to look down on the huge mausoleum complex with its mosaic patios and glazed green roofs. From here, it is also possible to see the full extent of the ruins of the Roman city at Volubilis, just a few miles away.

Mosque of Koutoubia Marrakech View

Mosque of Koutoubia Marrakech View









The most special moment in Marrakech occurs just before dusk. Pick your spot on a roof terrace in one of the many cafes which surround Place Jmaa el Fna and watch the magic unfold. As the sun begins to set, the hawkers and street food vendors roll their mobile stalls onto the square to set up for the night. As the call to the sunset prayer sounds from the Koutoubia mosque’s minaret, the electric bulbs of the food stalls illuminate one by one, until the natural light has gone and the square is lit by hundreds of twinkling lights. Get to your chosen cafe early to secure a front-row seat and snap the sun setting behind the Koutoubia.

Portuguese Ramparts on Water, Essaouira

Portuguese Ramparts on Water, Essaouira










The classic picture of Essaouira, which you will find on postcards all over town, is shot through a round window in the fortifications (skala) of the port. Entrance is 10DH and as well as great views looking back to the white-washed medina, you will get an aerial view of the functioning port and the canons lining the crenulations, as well seeing swooping seagulls and the islands out in the bay. For the best sunset views, head to the medina skala, or one of the many bars and restaurants along the beachfront, and wait for the sun to sink into the Atlantic.

Dades Valley Pins

Dades Valley Pins









Dades Gorge

The best views of the stunning Dades Gorge are from the Auberge Chez Pierre, in the gorge itself. The ochre and red landscapes are an essential sight on your route to Zagora. Even if a night at Chez Pierre isn’t on your itinerary, it is worth stopping for lunch or a drink on their terrace. The hotel is built in the traditional local style amid terraces of fruit trees, offering fantastic views of the surrounding gorge.

Sahara Caravan

Sahara Caravan








Erg Chebbi Dunes

It is not always easy to get an accurate impression of the sheer size and majesty of the magnificent Erg Chebbi sand dunes. However, the Yasmina Hotel offers unbeatable views due to its sheer remoteness. It is located right on the edge of the dune complex and the slightly longer drive from all sense of civilization is worth it for the absolute peace and calm that gives visitors a true feeling of the vastness Great Sahara. The best views of the dunes are at sunrise and sunset. For this reason, you may not choose to sleep at Yasmina – many guests use it as a stopping point before heading into the dunes on camel-back for a night under the stars in tents.

This list is offers edited and subjective highlights of our favorite views. On your Morocco trip you will certainly experience many others, take many photos and create special memories for the years ahead.

Written by Lynn Sheppard 

Lynn Sheppard has lived in Essaouira, on Morocco’s Atlantic Coast for more than 2 years, supporting local non-profits, writing and becoming an expert on all things Swiri (ie. Essaouiran). She blogs at and for other travel industry clients.

For more information about the Best 6 Views and our Splendors of Morocco Tour

Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.  We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

Top 10 Places To Travel In Morocco

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

Morocco is modern Muslim country in North Africa. It has a coast on the Atlantic Ocean that reaches past the Strait of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean Sea. Morocco, also referred to as the Kingdom of Morocco, has international borders with Algeria to the east, Spain to the north (a water border through the Strait and land borders with two small Spanish cities, Ceuta and Melilla), and Mauritania to the south. For Westerners, Morocco holds an immediate and enduring fascination. Since it’s not possible to see everything on the first or even second trip we’ve selected The Top 10 Places To Travel To in Morocco  will give you a taste of the country’s highlights: outstanding natural wonders, spectacular cities, history, culture and breathtaking architecture. 

Djemma el Fna Square

Djemma el Fna

Beneath the foothills of the Atlas Mountains in the city center of Marrakesh lies Djemma el Fna, a famous UNESCO recognized city square, where you will discover a world of mysterious bazaars and a set amidst the ancient city walls of Marrakesh’s medina. Djemma el Fna is  a unique L- shaped square best described as a labyrinth of mazes. There are souks sprawling off the sides of crowed alleys that sell carpets, spices, metal and wood works and tourist trinkets. Marrakesh has been built around Djemma el Fna and is often referred to as the heart of Marrakesh. In the evening, snake charmers, fortune tellers, monkeys & musicians transform this city Center into a medieval circus.

Ergg Chebbi Dunes, The Moroccan Sahara

Ergg Chebbi

Moroccan legend says that the Erg Chebbi sand dunes were sent by God as a punishment for turning away a weary traveler from the desert. Moroccans believe that the dunes piled up outside Merzouga to teach them a lesson so that they would never refuse to help tired travelers ever again. The Erg Chebbi dunes at Merzouga are indisputably one of the greatest sights of Morocco. These giant hills of smooth sand line the Algerian border and are a must see for everyone.Today, arriving to the Erg Chebbi dunes of Merzouga is a breeze in comparison to decades prior; there are many options to take you there. The easiest way is by 4×4 land cruiser however for those who have time to explore the Sahara, camel trekking is also popular. The best way to travel is with a guide. If you choose to do so, you will be in expert hands and have the opportunity to cruise the dunes and areas surrounding them. When trekking by camel, you must allow a minimum of two weeks. 

Cascades d’Ouzoud Waterfalls
In the Middle Atlas, just hours away from the Imperial city of Marrakech, lies one of the most majestic waterfalls set among a Berber village within Morocco. Morocco’s famous waterfalls, Cascades d’Ouzoud
 are argued be the most photographic falls within this geographically lush green region. The falls are so beautiful that even a novice photographer can capture their essence. When it comes to the cascades, a picture is truly worth a thousand words and the falls appear at least as stunning in real life as in print. To experience the intrinsic beauty of Cascade d’Ouzoud you have to pass through the tiny Berber village of Ouzoud. The village is located eighteen kilometers from Marrakesh-Azilal road. Most travelers arrive by private 4×4 directly if on a tour. Another way to get to the falls is by shared taxi from Marrakech to Azilal and then transfer to another shared taxi to reach them. Other alternatives include renting a car for the day in Marrakesh or Beni Mellal. From Beni Mellal you can also take a bus to Azilal. The best time to capture the Cascades d’Ouzoud waterfalls is between mid to late afternoon. Often rainbows appear, making the waterfalls even more remarkable and providing photographers with magazine quality photos. To capture the widest rainbows head towards the bottom of the falls.

The Majorelle Garden 

The subtropical Majorelle Garden is located in the heart of Gueliz, Hivernage within the Imperial city of Marrakesh. It is one of the most delightful and stunning spots within this red walled city. To arrive at this meticulously designed botanical garden you must pass through Marrakesh’s medina filled with acres of olive groves and palms.  The Majorelle Garden (Jardin Majorelle) previously the Jardin Bou Saf, was designed by the French expatriate artist Jacques Majorelle in 1924. Jacques Majorelle was the son of the celebrated Art Nouveau furniture designer Louis Majorelle. He studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Nancy in 1901 and later in 1919 he went to Marrakesh, Morocco to recover from heart problems. He built the garden during those years using special colour of blue which he used extensively in the garden that is named after him, Majorelle Blue. Jacques Majorelle returned to France in 1962 after a car incident and died later that year of complications from his injuries. Even though Morocco is no longer under the French protectorate, this originally French creation is one of the most beloved areas in Morocco. 

Although the Majorelle Garden has existed in Morocco for decades, it was only made famous abroad when the Majorelle Garden’s former owner and care-taker, fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, featured it in the 1997 Chelsea Flower Show in London. Since this time, many have journeyed to Morocco just to see the Majorelle Garden.

The Todra Gorge


The Todra Gorge is a trench of gigantic rock walls that, change color and run through the High Atlas Mountains creating an absolutely magnificent spectacle. Many travelers visit the Todra Gorge  as they journey through the south on the ‘Road of One Thousand Kasbahs’, a route from Ouarzazate to Erfoud where these century old pisé fortifications remain. The mining town of Tinerhir is the base town for visiting the Todra Gorge. The Gorge is breathtaking and easy hike by foot with many places to stop to photograph along its well-maintained dirt road. Part of the spectacular scenery includes an opportunity to see how the local Berbers live as nomads; as they stroll through the gorges many winding roads hering their donkeys and camels.

Volubilis, Walili – Roman Ruins

There is no better proof that the Romans once occupied Morocco than the dramatic and breathtaking archaeological site of Volubilis  (Arabic, Walili) located thirty-three kilometers from Meknes in the Middle Atlas. The nearest town is Moulay Idriss, named after the great grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. The site, which has been recognized by UNESCO since 1997, became famous abroad when Martin Scorsese made it a feature location for his film, The Last Temptation of Christ. 
Volubilis is best described as a colony where Roman culture was made central to its inhabitants. Originally, the site was a Carthaginian settlement since the third century B.C.; however, the Roman Empire transformed the city into one of its administrative centers. The Romans transformed Volubilis into a typical city complete with mansions to house the Roman officials, a town center, a triumphal arc and temples devoted to the Roman gods. Christianity was the practiced religion and Latin was the spoken language by the Greeks, Jews and Syrians living in Volubilis. 

The Koutoubia Mosque 


The Koutoubia Mosque, located in Marrakesh’s Djemaa el Fna Square, is a landmark and the largest mosque in Marrakesh, Morocco. The meaning of the word ‘mosque’ is the place where one bows down in a prayer. Consequentially, a mosque is center of religious life in Islam. Built during the Hispano-Moresque period, characteristic of simple yet masterful craftsmanship and luxury, The Koutoubia Mosque  is argued to be most beautiful and proportioned mosque in the world. The Koutoubia Mosque was completed under the reign of the Almohad dynasty Caliph Yaqub al-Mansur (1184-1199) and was used as model for the Giralda of Seville then for the Hassan Tower of Rabat. The name is derived from the Arabic al-Koutoubiyyin for librarian, since it used to be surrounded by sellers of manuscripts. Koutoubia Mosque, is often referred to in literature as the “bookseller’s mosque” and was named after the souk of koutoubiyyin, where sellers of manuscripts in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries laid out books and scripts on stalls on front of the original mosque. 

Aït Benhaddou Kasbah


Recognized as a UNESCO site, the Ksar Aït Benhaddou is one of the most beautiful in Morocco. This giant fortification, which is made up of six kasbahs and nearly fifty ksours (individual kasbahs), is a great example of pisé clay architecture. Aït Benhaddou sits amidst a valley near the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, just thirty-two miles from Ouarzazate, the film capital of Morocco. Ouarzazate first came into the international spotlight with the Hollywood film Lawrence of Arabia; Aït Benhaddou  made a feature appearance in this film. Orson Welles used it as a location for Sodome and Gomorrah; and for Jesus of Nazareth the whole lower part of the village was rebuilt. Since then many famous directors have followed in his footsteps to exploit the magnificent scenery of Ouarzazate. International blockbusters shot there in recent years include: the French version of Cleopatra, Bertolucci’s Sheltering Sky, Scorsese’s Kundun, Gillies MacKannon’s Hideous Kinky, Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, Black Hawke Down, Oliver Stone’s Alexander The Great, Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven, and Penelope Cruz’s Sahara. 

Kasbah Taouirt
Nearby Ouarzazate, a small town at the crossroads of the Drâa, Dadés and Ziz valleys, stands Kasbah Taourirt. Kasbah Taourirt
 is one of the most impressive of its kind in Morocco. The town of Ouarzazate was made famous when the Hollywood film, Lawrence of Arabia, was filmed nearby at the ancient Berber village of Aït Benhaddou. This helped raise awareness for Kasbah Taourirt, a magnificent structure, built by the Glaoui. At one point in the 1930’s, Kasbah Taourirt was considered the largest Kasbah in Morocco and today is classified as a historical monument giving tribute to the Glaoui

The Dar Batha Museum of Fes
The Dar Batha Museum of Fes was originally a palace built in a Hispanic-Moorish design by Moulay Hassan at the end of the 19
th century. The palace belonged to the two Sultans Hassan I and Moulay Abdelaziz. In 1915 Dar Batha Palace took on the role of providing a home to Moroccan arts and was reinvented as the Dar Batha Museum  If you have an appreciation for art, craft and history, the Dar Batha Museum in Morocco is a must-see attraction. The Dar Batha Museum boasts some of Morocco’s most exquisite collections of antiques, astrolabes, aleju (Fes gold thread), traditional Fassie art works such as embroideries, zellige, sculpted works, jewelry, iron works, Korans, carpets and ceramics. 


Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Google on call Travel Exploration at (917)703-2078 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.