Erg Chigaga - The Sahara desert
Erg Chigaga is perhaps the most remote, wild and authentic region of the Sahara Desert in Morocco. Spending a night in the desert, among the dunes, is a unique experience that will repay you for the effort you made to get there. Sand that glitters like gold, dunes up to 300 meters high, camel caravans, the only noise is the rustling of sand moved by the wind.
Erg Chigaga or Erg Chebbi?
There are two major desert regions in Morocco: Erg Chebbi and Erg Chigaga, which is the best area to visit?
Erg Chebbi, Morocco’s most famous dune region, is the most visited as it is most “convenient”-the dunes are close to the town of Merzouga. This brings numerous advantages but also some disadvantages. The large number of infrastructures and tourist services allow for a worry-free desert experience surrounded by all the comforts, luxury hotels, swimming pools, restaurants, well-maintained roads,…. but you lose the tranquility, the silence, the being alone in the middle of nowhere.
Erg Chigaga is more authentic, reached from M’hamid after a two-hour off-road drive through landscapes that seem from another world. The distance from population centers makes it less visited and the experience more authentic and truer. Think of the wonder of being alone in the tented camp after dinner admiring the stars or climbing a dune to watch the sunrise surrounded only by sand. Probaly the dunes are lower than in Merzouga but the desert is wilder and more authentic, here you feel the immensity of the Sahara.
Therefore, since we do not like mass tourism and things too “comfortable,” we opted for Erg Chigaga.
Erg Chigaga - How to organize the excursion
Although it may seem very complicated to organize the desert excursion, it really isn’t. The important thing is to contact the right people, those who have been doing this work for years and will make sure that everything is wonderful. If you want references write to me.
First of all, browse to booking.com and type in Erg Chigaga, lots of tented camps will pop up, choose the one that strikes you the most, book it, and then send a message to the camp asking them to arrange transportation for you as well.
Erg Chigaga - Which camp?
Since getting to the camp in a normal car is not possible, we met with the guide in the center of M’hamid, after leaving the car in a parking lot we got into the 4 x 4 jeep towards Erg Chigaga. The asphalt road ends at the gates of M’hamid, from there on we follow a track on dirt road and sand.
If, like us, you travel in the summer, the rendezvous is in the afternoon as temperatures are too high to hike during the day: they reach and exceed 50 degrees.
The trip from M’hamid to the desert takes about two hours, the first section crossing the rocky desert. Along the way we saw numerous dromedaries, these are animals belonging to Berbers that they let free to graze.
A brief stop at an oasis
And finally we reached the camp, nestled among high dunes it consists of six tents used as rooms and a communal tent used for meals.
Don’t think of tents as camp tents, these are structures with double beds inside and equipped with a personal bathroom complete with a shower.
What to do
Maybe it was because we were the only guests or maybe because the area is really remote, but the excitement as soon as we got out of the car was so breathtaking.
We had already agreed before departure to take a camel ride to reach the top of a dune and see the sunset, unfortunately we did not get to see the sunset as we were caught in a sandstorm with thunder and lightning and were forced to return to camp.
And they say it never rains in the desert!!!!!!!
A mint tea and some snacks before enjoying an excellent dinner, one of the best of the entire trip.
But the most beautiful show is what the night holds: looking up at the sky and seeing an amount of stars that I didn’t think could exist.
Because it is very hot in summer, sleeping inside the tents is complicated so they transported the beds outside and we slept under a sky full of stars. In summer the temperature range is not as pronounced as in winter: a pajama and a sheet are more than enough.
Waking up at dawn to climb the dunes and see the spectacle of the sunrise. Walking on the dunes in the middle of nowhere is stunning, it left us speechless: dunes, dunes and more dunes for about 50 kilometers to Algeria.
Great breakfast and then sand board, sliding off the dunes on the snowboard is too much fun.
In summer the sun is too strong and the heat soon sets in, so after a few slips we left for M’hamid keeping among our fondest memories the night spent in the desert and promising to return as soon as possible to spend two nights.
Erg Chigaga - What to bring
Remember to take with you:
- Power bank, in the field electricity is generated by solar panels. If, however, the sun is not there……
- If you travel in the summer, a sweatshirt will be enough
Erg Chigaga - How to get there
From Marrakesh you must reach Zagora and continue for about 50 kilometers to M’hamid. The road is in good condition, all paved with no traffic. There are numerous gas stations along the road, and the villages you will pass through have stores and bars
Erg Chigaga - Conclusion
I highly recommend this excursion; you will remember it for a lifetime.
And have you ever seen the Sahara desert? What did you like about it? Tell us about it in the comments.