What to do in Merzouga, trip to the most famous oasis of Morocco

Merzouga is one of the most famous and visited oasis of Morocco, a magical and fascinating place nestled in the sands of the Sahara desert.


Merzouga is a small village located in the extreme southeast of Morocco, in the middle of the Sahara Desert just 20 kilometers from the Algerian border, a place much visited by travelers who arrive here every year to experience a real adventure in the majestic environment of the largest desert in the world.

In the past, Merzouga was one of the main oases where caravans stopped to find refreshment and gather supplies before tackling the toughest part of the crossing of the desert following the tracks that from Sub-Saharan Africa reached the Mediterranean. This strategic position for trade was, for centuries, the fortune of the village, keeping the community alive and, despite being in one of the most remote places in northern Africa, up-to-date on everything that was happening in the vast kingdom of the Maghreb.

Today, Merzouga is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Morocco, both for its wonderful environmental setting among the incredible dunes of the Sahara Desert, and for being one of the locations that serve as a base camp for deeper explorations of the Errachidia region.

In this guide we will discover the wonders not to be missed and the most interesting destinations on a trip to Merzouga, the most famous oasis in Morocco.

To reach Merzouga, the most economical way is by bus, although this type of journey has the disadvantage of having numerous changes before reaching the destination: the most famous route is the one that goes from Marrakesh to Ouarzazate, where you change for Rissani and from there you take the last means of transport to Merzouga; another possibility is to arrive first at Erfoud, the main city of the province, then back to Rissani and finally to Merzouga. The quickest, and most expensive way to reach the oasis is instead to take a cab or even rent a 4×4 off-road vehicle to venture freely towards the sands of the Sahara.

The main attraction of Merzouga are the spectacular dunes of Erg Chebbi and Erg Chigaga, the majestic desert sand formations that lie on the dividing line between the sandy desert and the stony desert, a magical and spectacular place where the panorama stretches for kilometers and kilometers over the burning plain. One of the most characteristic experiences in a trip to these places is the excursion on the back of a dromedary in the company of the men of the desert, the Berbers or Imazighen, as they prefer to be called, which allows you not only to get close to the most spectacular dunes but also to spend the night in a real traditional tent to experience firsthand the thrill of admiring the impressive starry sky of the desert.

This form of “astronomical” tourism is becoming more and more famous, also because the particular climatic conditions and the absence of artificial illumination make the observation of the nocturnal stars a true mystical experience, giving the possibility to admire a sky that is no longer possible to admire in Europe affected by light pollution.

Another attraction not to be missed is that of being able to admire the great dune of Erg Chebbi, more than 150 meters high, at sunrise, when the red light of dawn floods the sand, generating an incredible variety of shades, unimaginable for those who think that the desert is only an expanse of monochromatic sand.

For animal lovers and nature photography enthusiasts, a trip to Merzouga is an opportunity to get up close and personal with the magnificent creatures that inhabit this desert location, as seemingly hostile to life as it is, in fact, rich in creatures of all kinds. Among the dunes around the oasis you can spot desert foxes, gerbils, desert hedgehogs, numerous reptiles and snakes, but above all the magnificent birds of prey of the Sahara, such as falcons, kestrels and griffons. Moreover, in the waters of the lake of the Merzouga oasis, numerous species of ducks and flamingos can be observed, which find refreshment before continuing their long journey to the wetlands of the Mediterranean.

Merzouga offers the possibility to arrive in a short time in important localities of the surroundings, very fascinating and suggestive places where you can meet the most ancient testimonies of the past of the territory: Erfoud and RIssani.


Erfoud is the capital of the province and among its streets and its charming Suq you can breathe in the atmosphere of a Morocco that is still authentic and not invaded by mass tourism and at the same time find the latest services for travelers before entering the desert area. In Erfoud, one can admire the splendid royal palace, built in the 16th century and the only example of such a palace built in the middle of the Sahara desert, and the interesting Museum of Fossils,

a unique place where one can not only observe numerous fossils found in the sands and which testify to the luxuriant past of this now arid area, but can also purchase them. Just outside the urban center of Erfoud, you cannot miss a visit to the Maadid Ksar, one of the ancient fortresses that during the Saadi reign in the middle of the sixteenth century dotted the kingdom.


Rissani is a very important center for trade in the entire area of southeastern Morocco, as well as having been the ancient capital of the Tafilalet fief and today is one of the most popular tourist destinations before entering the desert. In Rissani, in addition to the traditional souks where you can find the most interesting handicrafts of Morocco, you can visit the Mausoleum of Moulay Ali Cherif, the founder in the seventeenth century of the Alaouite dynasty that still reigns over the Moroccan state. An attraction not to be underestimated are the spectacular fortified villages that surround the urban center where you can admire the ancient defensive structures still perfectly preserved.

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