About Erg-Chebbi: Merzouga

Peculiar and severe beauty of desert is no worse than that of mountains or tropical islands. The sight of camel caravans traveling along boundless sand dunes is just fascinating. However, you must understand that most deserts of the world are sand and stone arid spaces of land. And those images that are often recalled to our mind (dunes and caravans) are but small areas within even such big deserts as Sahara.

Sahara takes up a huge territory in the north of African continent – appx. 9 million km2. It is a bit more than the territory of Brazil, and slightly less than the territory of USA. As you might have guessed Sahara has a scarce population (no more than 2 million people), and con-siderable parcels of land stretching for hundreds kilometers are absolutely lifeless, but this doesn’t detract from the beauties of sand ergs of Sahara.

‘Erg’ means ‘Dunes or Sand Sea’ in Arabic. In Sahara there are several areas, which are covered with picturesque dunes, and indeed, when you climb atop them there is nothing but a wide sand sea as far as the eye can see. There are oases in the ergs where camels can drink water and have a respite in the shadow of palms, and then go to the next oasis.

The largest ergs in Sahara are on the territory of Algeria. Great East Erg and Great West Erg are in the north-east and north-west of Algeria, respectively. They occupy a lot of space but they aren’t too attractive for tourists because of two reasons. Firstly, there is no adequate tourist infrastructure providing for comfortable travels. And secondly, Algeria isn’t a safe country so far.

However, if you are prepared for adventures in Algeria, you should make a trip to Great West Erg. You can take a plane to El-Golea in the capital of Algeria. Actually, El-Golea is the oasis at the very edge of Great West Erg. Beyond it there is nothing but sand dunes stretching for hundreds of kilometers. They are almost lifeless, so you can not go too far into the desert and that only with a guide.

Alternatively, you can go to Tassilin-Adzher in the south of Algeria. There you can see mainly mountain landscapes, though there are some ergs too. All this makes the scenery even more impressive: with rocks fashioned into fantastic shapes by the wind, and sand dunes reaching the height of tens and even hundreds of meters. In many places there have also been preserved rock paintings of primitive men. You can get there by a plane to Djanet.

North part of Great East Erg covers the territory of Tunisia, so you can visit it during your vacations at resorts of this country, but unfortunately, you can see no great sand dunes there, so you can not quite understand the greatness of Sahara.

The simplest way to enjoy one of the most beautiful sand ergs of Sahara (and absolutely safe at that) is to go to Erg-Chebbi in southeastern Morocco. Erg-Chebbi is a small erg, only 22 km long and 5 km wide, but it features gigantic dunes reaching the height of some 150 me-ters, which can give you full understanding of severe grandeur of Sahara.

In the immediate vicinity of Erg-Chebbi there is Mersuga where you can find a lot of different hotels, including 5-star ones. Nearby there is a scenic lake with a colony of flamingoes. So, you can easily combine your trip to Erg-Chebbi with beach holidays in Agadir and visiting Marrakesh. From Agadir to Mersuga you can get by a plane to El-Rashidi and then by a motor-car.

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