Mhamid At The Beginning Of The Dunes Of Chegaga
Formerly named Taragalte and first desert outpost, near the Algerian border with an undeniable Saharan atmosphere, Mhamid el Ghizlane is located almost 60 km from the great erg Chegaga and is the last locality before this vast desert.
Separated by the Oued Drâa, two villages form the whole of Mhamid:
Mhamid Jdid – the new Mhamid – on the north side, this is where most of the coffee shops, small hotels and craft shops are located, as well as the Monday souk.
To the south, Mhamid Bali, – Mhamid the former – these are dwellings in adobe and a Kasbah still preserved.
Dating from the Saadian era at the end of the XVIe, the ksar Ksebt el-Allouj is located in the Mhamid’s oasis
The dunes of erg Lehoudi, only 12 km north of Mhamid are very accessible, it’ss possible to get there by car. To reach the erg Chegaga, the asphalt road stops at Mhamid, giving way to the tracks, reserved for dromedaries and 4X4.
Mhamid el Ghizlane means “the plain of gazelles” because of their strong presence in nowadays times … there reigns a border town atmosphere and few activities are proposed within the city. However, some vestiges deserve a little detour.
The exploration of the surroundings of Mhamid requires to know well the tracks that lead to the various points of interest, that’s why we do not advise to leave alone. You must be accompanied by a confirmed guide. On-site agencies with 4 × 4 driver offer their services.
The erg Chegaga is located 60 km from Mahmid. This great erg is several tens of kilometers long and 15 wide. To get there it’s necessary to rent a 4 × 4 with a guide knowing well the region or for the most intrepid on camels. The ideal: bivouac at night to admire the beautiful sunsets on these exceptional dunes where you can also practice the sand baths.
The erg Lehoudi or erg of the Jews about ten kilometers from Mhamid is conceived naturally as a dune cordon. Its forms continually change with the strong Saharan winds. Like the erg Chegaga, bivouacs can be organized after a ride on a dromedary.
Iriki near the Djbel Bani on the trail leading to Foum Zguig is a magical place. It’s in this dry lake that the Oued Drâa sees its course often interrupted by a lack of endemic precipitation.
Iiriki is an almost virgin place of tourists where succeed beautiful landscapes, interspersed with erg and green oases.
A National Park was created in 1994 on a surface of 123 000 hectares to protect the local fauna (gazelles, bustards, hyenas, numerous reptiles …) and to reintroduce disappeared species (oryx, addax, ostriches ).
It is surrounded by two tracks connecting Foum Zguig, these tracks separating at the sacred source Abd ed Rahmane.
The oases of the Zaouia Sidi Abd in Nebi and the sacred oasis Abd ed Rahmane are havens of freshness not to be missed on these magnificent 200 km long trails connecting Mahmid to Foum Zguig.
From Tagounite, north of Mhamid, off-trail tracks lead to small forgotten oases, such as Nesrate and others in the jbel Tadrart.
Kasbah el Allouj
In the heart of an oasis, the ruins of this ancient Kasbah built in the 16th century to control the caravans leaving for Timbuktu and Sudan, testify the importance of the Saadian during this period.
On Monday is held the souk of Mhamid. It is above all a large dromedary market where the nomads of the southern region come to trade there.
There is no banking services in Mhamid, only the Post Office and its Western Union Service. We advise you to make your arrangements in Ouarzazate or Zagora before leaving. There are no hospitals but 2 pharmacies.
Where to eat in Mhamid
Mhamid is the ultimate stage where you can restore yourself if you wish to continue your journey to the dunes of the erg Chegaga on your own. Some small simple restaurants located in town offer tajines and grills.
International Festival of Nomads
This musical event takes place towards the end of March. Most of the programming consists of music from the desert and Berber for the greatest happiness of the population and passing travelers.
Rent a car and come to Mhamid
There is no tourist car rental in Mhamid, but only tourist transport agencies in 4×4. The road ends in Mhamid, but nothing prevents you from renting a car in Zagora or Ouarzazate and enjoy the full road trip.
Hotels and B & Bs in Mhamid
A true gateway to the desert, Mhamid is not lacking in accommodation: from simple hotels to those with luxuriously appointed rooms and without forgetting the possibilities of sleeping under a Berber tent. Mhamid will satisfy many travelers.
Airport to Mhamid
The nearest international airport is Ouarzazate. The airports of Marrakech or Agadir are certainly a little more distant but clearly better served.
Bus to and from Ouarzazate
Daily connections to Zagora and Ouarzazate by bus and collective taxis. These mark the stop in the main street of Mhamid Jdid.
Departures from Marrakech 11:15 – Ouarzazate 16:15 – Zagora 18:30 – Arrived in Mhamid 20h 00.
Departure from Mhamid 6:00 – Zagora 7:30 – Ouarzazate 11:00 – Arrival in Marrakech 16:00.
Taragalt Festival – November
Sympathetic night lights to start the night. A presentation of the artists in Arabic and it is gone. It sings and dances some desert’s songs.
These are traditional musical performances until the arrival of Oum and a very aerial flute. It just misses a few shots of the public …
Immersion in Mhamid
Traditional music and traditional songs with English subtitles. A large camp on the edge of the village to present a small book of environmental awareness for the school children.
A concrete project with a visit to the nursery where the palm trees grow, which will be replanted by the population. The first by the youngest participating child. Relaxed and educational atmosphere.
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