Saharan Morocco is a vast desert region dividing Morocco and Algeria. Its a hot, dry and often picturesque area. This area is not to be confused with another region further south often called Moroccan Western Sahara.
Towns and Villages
- 1 Ouarzazate – considered the capital of the south, a great example of preservation and tourism that hasn't destroyed the feel of a fantastic and ancient city.
- 2 Erfoud – the Gate of Sahara, this small city is located on the way of Erg Chebbi Dunes.
- 3 Errachidia – biggest town north of Erfoud. Military use of this town gives it a clean and organized urban net.
- 4 Khamlia - this small village lies on the southwest edge of Erg Chebbi.
- 5 M'Hamid – small village on the border with Algeria, south of Zagora town.
- 6 Merzouga – small village on the edge of Erg Chebbi Dunes.
- 7 Nkob – small Berber town southeast of Agdz on the road Ouarzazate - Agdz - Alnif - Rissani; full of old kasbahs and surrounded by palm groves and the Saghrou Mountains.
- 8 Rissani - this small oasis town lies near the northwest edge of the Sahara.
- 9 Zagora – small desert town south of Ouarzazate.
- 10 Alnif – just a transport hub to pass from or to Rissani and Merzouga.
- 11 Bouarfa – this small city lies on the southeast edge of the Sahara and is the main cultural hub of the Beni Guil nomadic tribe and terminus of the Oriental Desert Express.
- 12 Tamegroute – village in the Draa Valley. Historical centre of the Nasiriyya order.
- 1 Oasis Fint. A proper oasis 15 km south of Ouarzazate.
- 2 Todgha Gorges. Impressive river canyons.
- 3 Dadès Gorges (Valley of Dadès) (Ouarzazate is a good jump off point). Several rugged wadi gorges carved out by the Dadès River. Plan a full day tour by 4WD jeep. Make a shortcut off-road in order to avoid a part of the paved N10. The views are spectacular and you have a great chance to meet shepherds (often young girls) with their herd. In the area are many Kasbah's, some inhabited, some abandoned. Don't be surprised if you see a for-sale sign on an abandoned Kasbah.
- 4 Valley of Roses (M’Goun Valley). These are the southernmost gorges of the Valley of Dadès. Known for its extensive rose production. M’Goun is also a geopark known for its mineralogical and paleontological properties. It has abundant dinosaur tracks and the Jurassic limestone bridge 1 Pont d’Imin Ifri.
French is widely spoken by most people connected to some kind of business. Moroccan Sahara divides into Berbers and Arabs from different tribes.
How are you
- Berber: meitanit?; Arabic: labass?; French: ça va?;
- Berber: tanmirt; Arabic: shukran; French: merci;
I want one orange juice
- Berber: righ ian assir limoun; Arabic: bghit wahid assir limoun; French: je veux un jus d'orange;
- Berber: assouninu; Arabic: sahbi; French: mon ami;
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
- Tachelhit Berber: yan, sin, krad, kkuz, semmus, sdis, sa, ttam, ttza, mraw; Moroccan Arabic: wahed, juj, tleta, arbaa, remsa, setta, sebaa, tamanya, tsaa, aashra; French: un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq, six, sept, huit, neuf, dix;
Getting around Moroccan Sahara desert is as easy as it gets. You have plenty of buses and grands taxis connecting the region's cities, towns and villages.
Try to do the circle from Ouarzazate to Nkob, Rissani, Erfoud, Erg Chebbi Dunes with villages such as Merzouga, Hassilabied, Khamlia, back up passing the Rose Valley and Gorges du Todra back to Ouarzazate. Also could be the southern route of Ouarzazate, Agdz, Zagora, Mhamid.
In Ouarzazate, explore Oasis Fint, Oasis Skoura, Unesco Ksar of Ait ben Haddou, Tifoultoute Kasbah, Stork Kasbah, Taourirt Kasbah, Cinema Museum, Open air Cinema Studios, Saturday morning market.
The desert itself between Ouarzazate and Merzouga is already impressive enough, even just by grand taxi. If you need to top that up, head for one of the dunes and pretend to be in the proper sandy Sahara.
- Erg Chebbi Dunes (Erg Chebbi Dunes). Erg Chebbi Dunes
- Tinfou Dunes (Tinfou Dunes). Tinfou Dunes
- Chegaga Dunes (Chegaga Dunes). Chegaga Dunes
- Old Kasbahs in Nkob (Old Kasbahs in Nkob). Old Kasbahs in Nkob
- Ksar of Maadid in Erfoud (Ksar of Maadid in Erfoud). Ksar of Maadid in Erfoud
- Taourirt Kasbah in Ouarzazate (Taourirt Kasbah in Ouarzazate). Taourirt Kasbah in Ouarzazate
- Unesco Ksar of Ait Ben Haddou in Ouarzazate (Unesco Ksar of Ait Ben Haddou in Ouarzazate). Unesco Ksar of Ait Ben Haddou in Ouarzazate
- Fint Oasis in Ouarzazate (Fint Oasis in Ouarzazate). Fint Oasis in Ouarzazate
- Underground Ksar of Tamegroute (Underground Ksar of Tamegroute) (South of Zagora). Underground Ksar of Tamegroute
- Tifoultoute Kasbah in Ouarzazate (Tifoultoute Kasbah in Ouarzazate). Tifoultoute Kasbah in Ouarzazate
- Ouarzazate open air Cinema Studios (Ouarzazate open air Cinema Studios). Ouarzazate open air Cinema Studios
Plan an expedition out to M'Hamid. A night in the Sahara is unforgettable and can be the best part of your Moroccan adventure. Ourzazate is the last big town in the south where this is easy and cheap to do. There are lots of agencies around that can arrange a trek like this, though this is the more expensive way to do it. A cheaper way, if you don't mind worrying about a few details, is to rent a car, go out there yourself, and negotiate an overnight in the desert with a Merzougan auberge (most of them offer overnights in the desert). Renting a car and driving the way is relatively easy if you drive a stick. The roads out that way are very good and easy to navigate. The overnight in the dunes should only cost about 300-400 dirham. A grand taxi will also take you out that way and back for 150-200 dirham. Everything out here is negotiable, so shop around for the best price.
- ATV quad excursion in Ouarzazate
- Camel trekking in Erg Chebbi Dunes
- Mountain trekking in Nkob
- Gnawa music in Khamlia village in Erg Chebbi Dunes
- Erfoud Saturday morning market
- Explore Taourirt and Tassoumaat districts in Ouarzazate. Explore Taourirt and Tassoumaat districts in Ouarzazate
- Restaurant Pizzeria des Dunes in Erfoud
- Restaurant 3 Thes in Ouarzazate
- Restaurant Hotel Ennakhile in Nkob
- 1 Restaurant Kasbah Meteorites in Alnif, ☏ . Kasbah Meteorite is a hotel located 13 km west of Alnif, a small Berber town on the road connecting Marrakech and Ouarzazate to Rissani in Sahara Desert.
- Desert Tea. Desert tea is usually just Chinese green tea and plenty of sugar. Ask for mint just for a change.
- Bottled water. If you're not used to Moroccan water, most likely you'll get sick of drinking it. Get bottled water selling in all small groceries stores spread around all towns and villages. Water labels: Bahia, Sidi Ali, Sidi Harazem, Ciel (watch out for Ciel water, it is made to make you drink more water), Ain Saiss. 5.5 to 7 dirhams.
All Moroccan Sahara is safe. Be careful with heat, drink bottled water. Every little town and village has small shops selling bottled water (~6 dirham).
Unemployment is high, and this is one of the country's tourist destinations. Expect young boys to proposing to be your guide through the desert. If you don't want their services, just smile and say no.
- Flight from Errachidia to Casablanca, Errachidia Airport (70 km north of Erfoud, get a grand taxi). Weekend flights check updates at Royal Air Maroc website. 1hr 20 min flight from Errachidia to Casablanca. 370-1,500 dirham.