Rissani Off The Beaten Path Tips by sachara Top 5 Page for this destination
Rissani Off The Beaten Path: 9 reviews and 38 photos
Ksar Oulad Abdelhalim, gate and decorations
The Circuit Touristique is very scenic because of the palmgroves and the ksour. The Ksar Oulad Abdelhalim has an impressive gate and nice decorations.
The Ksar Oulad Abdelhalim is about 4 km south-est of the towncentre of Rissani and about 2 km from the mausoleum of Moulay Ali-ash-Sharif. To see the gate and decorations, you have first to enter the outer ramparts.
The Ksar is built by the Sultan Moulay Ismaïl as a residence for Sultan Moulay Rachid, gouverneur of the Tafilalet.
tiny village in the middle of nowhere
From Rissani we made an one day trip into the desert by 4wd. We arranged this trip at the Ennasra kasbah hotel in Rissani where we spent two nights before and after our bivouac in the Erg Chebbi .
From Erfoud we went into the black desert. We visited a tiny village (picture 1&3) close to the Algerian border. From the village we could see the Moroccan military buildings at the mountain ridge (picture 1&3).
There were no roads, only some sandy tracks (picture 4). Close to the village is a small palmgrove (picture 4&5), which give the villagers a mean of living by the production of dates. We were surprised about the white salty soil (picture 5).
Erg Chebbi, first visit in 1975
About 50KM east of Rissani near the small village Merzouga is the Erg Chebbi, the highest sanddunes in Morocco. In 1975 I walked here for the first time in the Sahara sand.
Here I got the first idea how the Grand Ergs in Algeria and other parts of the Sahara could be.
Maybe I didn't realise it at this very moment, but here my love and addiction for the desert and the Sahara started. A historical moment in October 1975.
Afterwards I visited the Sahara many times: in Algeria, in Tunisia, in Libya, in Mauritania, in Morocco and Western Sahara. It took 33 years before I came back to the Erg Chebbi. For my visit in 2008 look at my other tips.
Most people will visit Rissani on their way to the sanddunes of Erg Chebbi just east of the villages Hassi Labied and Merzouga. When I visited the dunes in 1975 only shortly, I didnt see any other visitor. Nowadays the sanddunes are lined with several kasbah hotels, offering cameltrips and bivouacs in the dunes.
I think that Erg Chebbi is the most visited part of the Sahara. You can hardly call it 'off the beaten path' anymore. In 2008 we were lucky to be there off-season in January, so we could experienc it as 'a off the beaten path destination'.
We approached the dunes coming from Erfoud and the black desert. On this route we didnt see any other visitors around. Also when we arrived at the kasbah Moyahut, we were just the two of us. With our two camels and our guide we headed into the sanddunes late in the afternoon to be on time at our bivouac at sunset. Here we met a German couple.
The Erg Chebbi is a 40 km long drifting chain of sand dunes. It is the only real Saharan erg in Morocco. The tops can reach 180 meter. The dunes have the most fabulous colours from gold yellow to red, especially at sunset and sunrise.
For more pictures and information have a look at my Merzouga page.
During our drive of the 21 km long circuit touristique south of Rissani, we not only saw the palmeraie, but also several interesting ksour. Some are ruins, but many are still inhabited. So we got a glimpse of the daily life in the palmeraie at the edge of the desert. It looks like not much has changed for centuries. Those mud-brick walled ksour with their coloured gates looks very impressive and in harmony with the whole ambiance.
At the end of the afternoon we saw lots of schoolkids along the road walking home, but also men or women with their donkeys. Outside the gate of the ksar, we saw people fetching water at the communal watertap and lots of kids, curious when we passed or stopped for a while.
Rissani, Circuit Touristique
South of Rissani you can drive the 21 km long circuit touristique. It's very scenic route in the palmeraie of Rissani. We drove this route with our own hired car. The road is ok, some parts can be bumpy and some parts were unpaved. Coming from the direction of Erfoud you turn right instead of left just before you will reach Rissani (the road is signposted). You can also start the route from the other side, starting fromthe Zawiya Moulay Ali ash-Sharif.
During the trip you will get a glimpse of the daily life in the palmeraie and desert. The landscape and ambiance at the edge of the desert is fascinating. The palmtrees, the eroded wadis (picture !, 2 & 4) , the earth coloured dwellings in harmony with the same colours in their enviroment (picture 3 & 5).
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