Merzouga, Bivouacs at the Erg Chebbi
It’s in the south-east of Morocco that the high dunes of the erg Chebbi stretch, attraction of an adventure tourism, whose village of Merzouga derives its main economic development.
The center of the village, flanked by a wide non-bitumen artery where mostly cross-country vehicles intersect, knows this nonchalance that the localities of the Sahara can. The small cafes, bordering the artery, serve at all hours the traditional mint tea without forgetting the refreshing drinks particularly welcome under a lead sun.
Just a few meters away, the desert rises majestically, offering an exceptional panorama in ocher colors varying according to the sparkling curve of the sun. Merzouga is a privileged destination of southern Morocco for those who want to experience the Moroccan deserts. The multitude of inns, present all along the dunes, organizes dromedary rides in the erg Chebbi.
To come to Merzouga to attend the sunrises and sunsets, on these ships of the desert, constitutes the major event that will be engraved in the memory of each one. Some people prefer to spend the night in a bivouac. The nomad tents scattered in the dunes, which only the camel drivers know perfectly the route, wait wisely their hosts under a starry sky in an absolute calm.
In the vicinity of Merzouga, we discover a surprising lake, Lake Srji Dayet, in this hamada of black stones surrounding the dunes, where flamingos come to rest there, from June to September, during migrations between Europe And Madagascar. Nomads planted Berber tents made of goat or dromedary hair for a mild season before returning to less arid plains during the summer.
Bivouac at Erg Chebbi
All hostels are able to organize a bivouac for one night or several days, as well as a simple dromedary walk in the dunes at sunrise and sunset.
Hassilabiad and Lake Dayet Srji
Peaceful village 3 km north of Merzouga, Hassilabiad is a haven of tranquility. A luxuriant small palm grove between the dunes and the village offers a possibility of walking in the shade and cool. Some grocery stores and souvenir shops are there if needed, as well as a cybercafé. Without forgetting of course the inns along the dunes.
Located between Merzouga and Hassilabiad, Dayet Srji Lake is just as easily accessible by car as by bike. It is not advisable to make the complete tour in a tourist car, but it is still easy to circumvent it, to benefit from the view of the lake with the dunes in the background. Flamingos and wild ducks come to populate the lake during the winter.
Taouz and its engravings rock
To reach the small village of Taouz take the road to the left at the exit of Merzouga. Apart from a military barracks, inherited from the French colonial presence, there is a teleboutique, a small café and a post office. It is also from there, just before the village, that starts the track for Zagora.
The architecture of small houses glued to one another has this peculiarity of preserving great heat with the dome that serves as a roof. It also gives a small seal seen from the outside, which makes us think of some villages of Tunisia. Another village just 2Km to the south is the old Taouz.
To visit the rock carvings, take the track on 3Km before Taouz, the one that goes on your right. A 4 × 4 is rather recommended, we once tried to go with an old Renault, we had to turn back …
Unfortunately well damaged for many of them, the carved engravings in the rock represent so-called Libyco-Berber writings, animals, as well as wagons. The latter allow to estimate the dating between 1,500 and 2,000 BC …
A small village of 37 houses, Khamlia, also known as the village of the blacks, has housed for several generations these famous groups of musicians “Gnaouas” (this music supposed to cure body and soul), whose formation “Zaïd and The pigeons of the sand ” is the most famoust.
This troupe of 21 musicians welcomes you with music in their common house. Just come and sit on the cushions in the living room, so that the musicians come to make a demonstration, while you will be served tea and peanuts.
On the move this training which played outside the Moroccan borders, created a cultural and educational association within the village.
Every year, after having traveled around the area in music, gathering food such as sugar, flour, wheat, chicken, vegetables, the group organizes a party for three days in the village, which begins on the 1st Thursday of August.
If you pass by Khamlia, do not hesitate to visit the couple of artists Johana and Lahcen Mahmoudi at “La Maison des Artistes”.
Merzouga, useful information
The village being small, there is no domestic transport or small taxis in Merzouga. On the other hand there is no difficulty to find camels, mountain bikes and quads to rent.
There is a bank at the village entrance next to the post office but no pharmacy.
The Afriquia petrol station opened its pumps in July 2011, opposite the road that leads to Hassilabied, 3 km from Merzouga.
Rent a car and come to Merzouga
There is no car rental in Merzouga. You will need to book in Ouarzazate, Fez, Agadir, Marrakech, Casablanca …
Have a drink in Merzouga
It is possible to drink a good fresh beer at the poolside of the resort located south of Merzouga. (Beers around 20 Dh).
Also at the snack bar Jordi and Naima, just before arriving at the village and hotel Timbuktu in Hassilabiad
Hotels in Merzouga
It would be a shame to come here and not to enjoy a night under the starry sky of erg Chebbi.
As much in the village of Merzouga as along the dunes of erg Chebbi, hotels, inns, kasbahs and campsites offer overnight stays and bivouacs.
Coming by bus
From / to Marrakech 1 daily departure in both directions:
Marrakech: 8:30 am – Ouarzazate: 1 pm – Tinghir: 4 pm – Er Rachidia: 6 pm – Merzouga: 9 pm.
Merzouga: 8 am – Errachidia: 10:30 am – Tinghir: 1 pm – Ouarzazate: 4 pm – Marrakech: 8:30 pm
Coming from and to collective taxis from Rissani or Erfoud.
At about 360 km from Merzouga, Ouarzazate airport (OZZ) offers Paris, 3 hours 10 flights, 4 direct flights per week. Tuesday: 2:10 pm; Thursday and Saturday: 7.50 am; Sunday: 2:10 pm.
From the main European and foreign capitals, a stopover in Casablanca or Marrakech is to be expected.
For Paris, 3 hours 10 flights, 4 direct flights per week: Tuesday: 5.55 pm; Thursday and Saturday: 11.10 am; Sunday: 16:25.
More distant but better served the airports of Marrakech, Fez, Agadir or Casablanca may be a better option.
Road trip to Merzouga
Beautiful images accompanied by the very good music of Tinariwen
The nomad leads his camel to the Doctor…
A windy erg and calm Berber music accompany the camel driver and his camel all the way to the village. Medical destination. To talk to a doctor not a vet at all. A few bandages later, Tuareg magic and humour work fully. We love it!
MAKE A BIVOUAC
CIRCUITS FROM MARRAKECH
CIRCUITS FROM FEZ