"Amazing Merzouga in the Sahara sands" Top 5 Page for this destination Merzouga by angiebabe

Merzouga Travel Guide: 138 reviews and 625 photos

Camera, camels and birthdays in the desert

What an awesome experience I have had to have been involved with the Sahara desert over the last few years.
Being in the sahara with its beautiful colours of Morocco's highest sand dunes - known for changing colours through the day, with blue skies above and seeing them becoming bluest of the blue in the months closer to winter: changing shapes after winds and sandstorms that have often lasted for days!: waking at sunrise to walk in the dunes and seeing beautiful and strange shapes that appear overnight, the patterns of scarab beetles or desertfox prints leaving paths that criss cross like busy sahara traffic: the wonder of being on a ship of the desert with their moon shaped feet transporting you seemingly effortlessly and creating wonderful shadows - and visiting them in their corrals before being released for the day...
...and the sparse black stoney desert with its own picturesque beauty and far distance views of stranisolated mountains in the far distance into Algeria. and those that live in the desert - pass by a herd of camels or goats, wild donkeys - meet the locals wherever they are at work in the auberges or families out in their nomad homes or that appear from nowhere to sell you a fossil or two...

From my first visit in 2003 with frequent visits staying for a few days at a time, then further visits often camping at night in the desert or staying a week at a time in various auberges when visiting Moroccan family in nearby Rissani through to 2005 - then a return in June 2006 when I brought my best friend to Morocco to show her my Morocco and all that she had heard of and supported me with - and celebrate our 15 and 16 June birthdays together!! (returned in 2007, March for spring and early September for the date festival in Erfoud), 2011 in June aand September for a saharan wedding in 2011 and June again in 2012 (a popular place for my birthday!)

Ive had the privilege many times to have camped out in the desert , even once next to the Moroccan border control and the guard was so kind to bring us mint tea and eggs! - which we had with our fire with firewood bought from a nearby nomade family when we had had a Berber omelette meal with them.

For the 2006 birthdays visit with my best friend to give her the best out in the desert experience a family connection (had been there for my birthday also just one year before) took us out on an overnight camel trip using camels and camel man from Auberge Berbere which had not long before had their auberge devastated in the floods - so it was good to give them some business too. Exciting heading out in the dark on our camels! - with my musical friend Traceyanne singing hymns from her camel behind and then eventually the moon began to appear - we had a full moon by the time we arrived to set up camp at about 10pm - even more magical!

Sleeping out in the open under the clear sky with its millions of stars we awoke with the first light of day - with the moon still though low in the sky the most natural thing to do first is get up a good sized dune to watch the sunrise.... and then breakfast in the desert....mint tea, bread with honey, olives...

When we set off on our camels again in daylight we got to see the after-effects of unexpected floods a couple of months before, wiping out several auberges in the area and leaving watermarks in the sand or large pools of water still around. We drove to Merzouga town to see the flood damage where about 160 homes were destroyed and gave away some of our clothes.

The remains of ruined auberges such as Riad Maria can still be seen but several auberges have rebuilt up on higher ground rather than on the low plain. Much more sensible as there is always going to be the risk of heavy rains.

Generally but not always, a lake forms in March near the Yasmina hotel at the far end of the dunes and often also a lake near Merzouga town. This area is the best place in Morocco for bird watchers to see desert birds but when these lakes appear waterbirds such as flamingoes also come...have seen gulls and geese but still not seen flamingoes!

Another special sunrise or sunset in the sahara

.....another lovely sunrise in the desert - it makes a difference too I guess who you are with but its certainly a place for contemplation and meditation if thats where youre at! I dont recall ever not waking up early out in the desert for the sunrises - just naturally happened other than when I had to be woken in the dark way back at the beginning of my visits to the desert for a sunrise camel ride in which you head off almost an hour before the calculated sunrise so youre up in the dark and heading off to get up a good dune hill to see the sun come up.

Previous occasions Ive been out camping but most of the auberges are up close to the dunes and you just walk out and there you are in the sand - you can still do a camel trip to get and over the dunes from your auburge or up high for the sunrise, or you can head out yourself and wander about.

Up early like this you get the quiet of the desert, maybe the distance putt putting of a small motorcycle with a guy in blue on it heading somewhere, or even someone quietly peddling their bicycle through the sand!,
you might get to see a group of camels somewhere on the move, the trails of animals and insects and crawling things that have been up earlier than you.
and darn it all you might get some fossil peddlar that disturbs your peace typically appearing from nowhere! with a how are you and out comes the fossils at an inflationary rate comparable with Zimbabwe's!.

Both sunrise and sunset are great times to find a place as high as you want to be to sit and watch the glow on the sands and the colours change of the dunes and the skies. A common sight is to see like insects in the distance people making their way to the highest dunes or standing on top when they have reached their peak! There are several high dunes through the cluster of dunes known as Erg Chebbi but the high dune right at Merzouga town is a popular destination with great views over the area too.

If you are going out for a sunset remember to bring a torch as darkness descends quite quickly...but a special sight is also to gaze up and see the amazing miliions of stars

Merzouga town and the area called Merzouga

in addition to breakfast in the sahara of course - mint tea, olive oil, honey and bread - we were soaking up the excitement of getting close to and being on camels!!

For all the negative comments about camels and camel rides..thankfully I still havent had a spitting or agro camel yet! but actually come to the end of the trip mine wouldnt sit down and let me off! which was a laugh really! Us intrepid adventurers out in the sahara!

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:beautiful sand, amazing night sky, great drumming, the local dish kalia - excellent!, camels!, out into the dunes by camel in the dark and watching the moon come up!! - wow!, driving around in the desert, getting stuck but getting out!,
  • Cons:guys will appear from nowhere while youre out enjoying the sands to sell you fossils - for well over inflated prices of course!Risk of getting misled at Rissani and yr plans changed if youre not aware that the faux guides will hassle and lie to you
  • In a nutshell:really special! i have been blessed with amazing privileges!
  • Last visit to Merzouga: Jun 2012
  • Intro Updated Aug 14, 2012
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Reviews (27)

Comments (36)

  • karifo's Profile Photo
    Aug 18, 2012 at 5:54 PM

    its good page and day ar lavle photo - its mawst important info and bist wan ai seen about merzoga

  • Yaqui's Profile Photo
    Aug 6, 2012 at 6:26 PM

    Such stark landscapes, but beautiful. Excellent page!

  • aussirose's Profile Photo
    Jan 2, 2012 at 7:11 PM

    WoW! Too much to comment on here mate!...love it!! :o) We didn't get here. Love the lake pic...and yes, sunrise in the desert and sleeping under the stars is pretty awesome hey! :o) Oh...and I love your scarab bettle tip...I was wondering what those tracks were :o) ...Hugs xx

  • Regina1965's Profile Photo
    Aug 24, 2011 at 8:23 AM

    Wow, Angela, another fantastic page on Morocco! You surely are an expert on these places - kudos to you - and fantastic photos!

  • toonsarah's Profile Photo
    May 11, 2011 at 12:13 PM

    Fantastic page! I love desserts, love sunrises and even have a soft spot for much-maligned camels, so I would be in my element here :-)

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Nov 7, 2010 at 1:48 PM

    What an adventure, it must have been marvellous being in the Sahara Desert, and I love the Camel photo's!

  • HORSCHECK's Profile Photo
    Oct 4, 2010 at 9:59 AM

    Angie, fantastic page with even more fantastic updates here. It is good to know that they have special stamps in Morocco, as I usually also like to stick special stamps on my postcards.

  • ATLC's Profile Photo
    Aug 15, 2010 at 3:17 PM

    Lovely new travelogues! And just re-read the Warnings tip. Grrrr...!

  • goutammitra's Profile Photo
    Jun 9, 2010 at 10:34 PM

    What a great desert trip!! You have traveled a lot in the desert. You seem to be a desert lover. How do you stand the heat? What is this lake called, any name or just an Oasis?

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Dec 13, 2009 at 11:10 AM

    Magnificent photos in your tips and travelogues! That flooding in 2006 must have been a real shock to the local people since it had been at least 50-100 years since the last heavy rains and flooding.

angiebabe Visits Here Frequently!

angiebabe

“be prepared, be respectful, try the food, meet the people, walk, walk, walk, keep your eyes open and take your camera”

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