Erg Chebbi & the Moroccan Sahara

Erg Chebbi & the Moroccan Sahara

A masterwork of sculpture, artistically created by the sweeping desert winds, Erg Chebbi is the iconic Saharan vista: great orange-gold dunes rippling across the desertscape in Morocco.

These mighty dunes can reach a height of 150 metres; they roll out to the border with Algeria, covering an area of over 100 sq. km. Putting a little design into the stark terrain are ridged patterns carved into the superfine sands, punctuated by trails of camel hoof prints. A million or more stars speckle a sky free of light pollution.

It’s a special place – romantic and magical – with landscapes reminiscent of an old tale from Arabian Nights or maybe something out of Star Wars. At the peak of summer, Moroccans travel here to bury themselves neck-deep in the desert sands. It’s supposed to be a treatment for rheumatism; now we can’t comment on the medicinal quality, but it is fun.

The real fun is in the exploring, however, or just enjoying the silence and isolation of the world’s most stirring desert. You can take a guided tour by 4×4, but the traditional way is by camel. During the day you can meet djellaba-clad local Berber tribes. At night, you’ll stay in a luxurious camp, kitted out like an Arabian palace, and with all the space and mod cons of an upmarket hotel room.

As part of your tailor-made tour, you can take in the ancient fortified city of Aït Benhaddou, a Unesco World Heritage site to the west in the foothills of the High Atlas Mountains. Smaller but more remote, is the reddish dunescape of Erg Chigaga, more Mars than Earth in its appearance.

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