things to do in the desert Sahara
I wrote this guide to help you plan your trip to this gorgeous desert village, covering almost everything I could think of so you can get the most out of your visit to the Sahara desert.
Merzouga in the southern region of Morocco was the perfect place for me to live all of these fantasies. It’s a small Moroccan town in the Sahara Desert, not too far from the Algerian border. It’s known as the door to Erg Chebbi, a huge stretch of sand dunes south of town.
The best time of the year to visit Merzouga is in spring between the months of March and May, or in fall between the months of September and November. During these periods, the weather isn’t too hot and you’ll be able to enjoy your time in the desert much more. The temperature in summer reaches highs of 40°C (104°F ) and it rarely drops below 26.7°C (80°F) at night.
Regardless of the time of the year you visit Merzouga, always cover your head to avoid getting a sunstroke. Sun protection is vital. It could be a good idea to cover yourself with a wide-brimmed hat or a bandana. To avoid losing a lot of water through sweat, a good clothing option to spend time in the desert are light-colored long-sleeve shirts and pants.
What to do in Merzouga
Merzouga is a calm and quiet town in the Sahara, yet it offers a surprisingly big amount of cool fun activities.
- Walk to the top of the highest sand dune: The desert near Merzouga is known as Erg Chebbi. It’s a huge area filled with sand dunes south of town. Out of all the sand dunes that can be seen from the village, one particularly stands out. It’s much higher than all the rest of the desert and looks like a huge mountain of sand.
- Admire the stars from the desert: There is no better place to admire the stars than from the desert itself. Since Merzouga is a small town, the sand dunes around it receive almost no light pollution, making this a prime stargazing location.
- Sunset camel ride in the desert: No trip to Morocco would be complete without a camel trek in the desert. In Merzouga, it’s possible to find various companies offering camel rides throughout the whole day and they are generally not too expensive. For the travelers who are fascinated with the ancient African camel caravans, this is the perfect opportunity to feel like a nomad for a couple of hours.
- Sandboarding in the dunes: If you want to discover the desert in a more “alternative” way and get covered in sand in the process, you should try sandboarding. Although this activity looks at first glance as something that could be dangerous, it’s actually super safe.
-The sand dunes of Erg Chebbi in Merzouga are really soft so you shouldn’t fear falling down. This is also a great activity to do with kids but make sure to cover your eyes with goggles to avoid getting sand in them.
- Going for a ride in a 4×4 in Erg Chebbi: Although this activity is not as traditional as riding a camel through the dunes, nothing beats the feeling of zooming up and down through the desert in an off-road vehicle.
-The guides operating in Merzouga are all quite young but don’t let their youthful appearance fool you. These guys are all very experienced guides and they know the desert like the back of their hands.
- visit and discover a nomad family: Visit a Nomad Family The lives of Morocco’s Berbers, the country’s proud indigenous people, are fascinating, colourful, and greatly intriguing. Let your guide take you to a Nomad family across the dunes to truly understand their hardship, sense of hospitality, and unique way of life.
- Listen to traditional Gnawa music in Khamlia: The Gnawa are an ethnic group inhabiting Morocco and they have some of the most beautiful traditional music you will hear while visiting the country. The ancestors of the Gnawa people were brought from Central and West Africa as slaves through the Sahara desert in caravans that eventually arrived in the southeastern part of Morocco.
And if you’re planning on just passing through, on the way to your own independent desert trip, you might want to take a look at these posts – Marrakech to Merzouga: Our road trip itinerary and Our night in the Sahara Desert.