Morocco is a country located in North Africa. Tourism plays a major role in the country’s economy, and one of its main tourist attractions is the dunes in the Sahara Desert, which we will be talking about in this article. The dunes in Sahara have become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Morocco. The desert covers much of the country, and the dunes, also known as ergs, are a prominent feature of the landscape. There are several areas in Morocco where the dunes are particularly large and spectacular, such as Erg Chebbi and Erg Chigaga.
The Sahara Desert, which includes the dunes in Morocco, has a long history dating back thousands of years. The earliest known human inhabitants of the region were the Saharan rock paintings in Tassili n’Ajjer and Tadrart Acacus, which were created by hunter-gatherer societies that existed in the area between 12,000 and 2,000 years ago.
The area has been inhabited by various groups of people, including Berbers and Arabs, who have historically used the desert for grazing and trading. During the Pharaonic period in Egypt, the ancient Egyptians traded with the peoples of Western Sahara for gold, ivory, and other resources. The Garamantes, a powerful Berber kingdom that existed in the Fezzan region of present-day Libya, also established trade routes through the desert and built underground irrigation systems to cultivate crops.
In the 7th century, Arab armies conquered the Sahara, bringing Islam to the region and creating a trade network that linked West Africa to the Mediterranean. This period saw the emergence of powerful Islamic states, such as the Kingdom of Ghana and the Empire of Mali, that controlled the trans-Saharan trade routes.
During the colonial period, the French colonized the Sahara in the early 20th century and established control over much of the desert region. The desert regions of Western Sahara are controlled by the Spanish. In the post-colonial period, many Saharan countries, such as Morocco and Algeria, claimed control over the desert region.
Today, the Moroccan government controls the majority of the Sahara and has made efforts to develop the area for tourism and other economic activities.
How can I get to the Sahara Dunes?
There are several ways to visit the Sahara dunes in Morocco, depending on your location and preferences. One popular way is to take a guided tour from Marrakech (also spelled as Marrakesh). These tours typically include round-trip transportation, accommodations in traditional Berber tents or desert lodges, and activities such as camel trekking and sand boarding.
Another option is to rent a car and drive to the desert yourself. If you choose this option, it’s important to note that the road to the desert can be challenging, and it’s recommended to have a 4×4 vehicle and experience with off-road driving.
Lastly, you can fly to the city of Ouarzazate and then take a bus or taxi to the desert. From there, you can arrange a tour or rent a vehicle to explore the dunes.
The best time to visit the desert is during the cooler months, between October and April, as temperatures can reach up to 50°C (122°F) during the summer months.
Activities to Enjoy in the Sahara Dunes
Many activities can be enjoyed in the Sahara dunes in Morocco. Some of these activities, on the other hand, may not be available all year and may be weather dependent. Here are some popular options:
One of the most popular ways to explore the desert is on the back of a camel. Guided camel treks can take you on a journey through the dunes, and some tours even include an overnight camping experience in the desert.
The dunes provide the perfect opportunity to try sandboarding, which is similar to snowboarding but on dunes.
A quad bike is another way to explore the desert and experience the thrill of driving through the dunes.
The Sahara Desert offers one of the best stargazing experiences, with clear skies and minimal light pollution.
Visiting Berber villages
The desert is home to several Berber communities that have lived in the area for centuries. Visiting these villages will give you a glimpse into the traditional way of life of the Berbers.
The Sahara Desert offers a unique landscape, with beautiful dunes, mountains, and an oasis, that can make for great photography opportunities.
Hot air balloon
This can be a unique way to see the desert and admire the dunes from a different perspective.
Amenities Offered in the Sahara Dunes
Amenities available in the Sahara dunes in Morocco can vary depending on the specific location and type of accommodation. However, these amenities can be limited compared to more urban areas, so it’s important to be prepared for a more rustic experience. Here are some of the amenities that are commonly available:
Visitors can choose from a variety of accommodation options, including traditional Berber tents, desert lodges, and luxury hotels. Some accommodations may include private bathrooms, air conditioning, and Wi-Fi.
Many desert camps and lodges offer meals, including traditional Moroccan cuisine such as tagine and couscous as well as more Western options. Some accommodations may also have a bar or restaurant on site.
Guides and transportation
Most tours and accommodation packages will include transportation to and from the desert, as well as a guide to accompany you on your desert adventures.
Many desert camps and lodges offer activities that tourists can enjoy, as these activities are mentioned above. Tourists will never run out of things to do in the area.
Toilets and showers
Amenities like toilets and showers may be basic and limited; however, they are available in most of the camps and lodges. This could be different if you are staying in a luxury hotel. They could have more amenities.
Nearby attractions from Sahara Dunes
Some nearby attractions from the Sahara Dunes in Morocco include the city of Zagora, the Draa Valley, the Todra Gorge, the Ait Benhaddou kasbah, and the Dades Valley. These sites offer a variety of experiences, such as scenic drives, hiking, and exploring traditional Berber villages and kasbahs. Additionally, the desert town of Merzouga is located near the Sahara Dunes and offers camel treks and tours of the surrounding dunes.
Facts about the Sahara Dunes
- The Sahara Dunes are formed by the wind blowing sand into large piles, called barchans. These dunes can reach heights of up to 600 feet (183 meters).
- The Sahara Desert is the largest hot desert in the world and covers over 3.6 million square miles (9.4 million square kilometers).
- The Sahara is home to a variety of plants and animals that have adapted to survive in the harsh desert environment, such as the addax, dromedary camel, and desert fox.
- The Sahara has a rich cultural history, with many ancient settlements and trading routes, as well as many Berber and Tuareg tribes still residing in the desert today.
- The “Saharan Air Layer,” which is a dry and dusty air mass that forms over the Sahara, is known to affect weather patterns in other parts of the world, including the Caribbean and the southern United States.
- The temperature in the Sahara can reach up to 131°F (55°C) during the day and drop to as low as 32°F (0°C) at night.
- The Sahara Desert is not constant, and it’s expanding and contracting over time. It is currently in a contracting phase.
The Sahara Desert in Morocco is one of the few deserts in the world that gives tourists an exceptional view of the dunes. The area gives tourists a one-of-a-kind experience because of the many activities that they can do, such as camel trekking, sandboarding, quad biking, stargazing, and many others. There are also a lot of amenities that the area provides to give comfort to its visitors.