Things to Do in Morocco Sahara
Few places on earth compare to the Sahara Desert, a natural wonder of vast plains and sun-baked dunes that dominates the south and east of Morocco. The world’s largest hot desert, the Sahara stretches a staggering 5.6 million square miles (9 million square kilometers) over several countries. Hemmed in by the Atlas mountain range, the Saharan sands are one of Morocco’s many highlights.
Few places in Morocco offer the epic sunrises and beautiful sunsets found amid the towering sand dunes of the tiny village of Merzouga. Located in the unforgiving Sahara Desert near Erg Chebbi, this quiet destination is known for its iconic views, camel safaris and Berber culture.
Intrepid (and fit) travelers can attempt to climb the massive dunes that surround Merzouga, while less the adventurous embark on a 4x4, motorbike or camel trekking tour. While spotting wildlife in the barren desert landscapes can be a challenge, birders will find plenty of opportunities in spring months when a nearby lake fills with water and attracts rare winged wonders.
The Erg Chebbi is a majestic sand sea in Morocco’s desert that spans about 17 miles (28 kilometers) and boasts dunes that reach heights of about 525 feet (160 meters). Conveniently near the town of Merzouga, this is the Moroccan Sahara’s most popular desert camping destination.
On the edge of the Sahara Desert in Ouarzazate, Atlas Film Studios is not only the center of Morocco’s film industry, but the largest film studio in the world. Founded in the early 1980s, the studios boast an impressive pedigree, having hosted iconic film sets such asGladiator andStar Wars, as well as scenes fromGame of Thrones.
Translating from Arabic as Field of Dunes, the rolling landscapes of Erg Chigaga are some of the Moroccan Sahara’s most beautiful. The camps nestled between the dunes feel particularly secluded, making Erg Chigaga a great place to enjoy the space and silence of the desert.
Winding through the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco from southeast of Marrakesh to Ouarzazate, the Tizi-n'Tichka Pass (Difficult Path) offers one of the nation’s most dramatic and hair-raising drives. This high mountain pass offers stunning views of the Atlas Mountains around every hairpin turn — and there are plenty of them. Built by the French for military use in 1936, the road follows Route Nationale 9 and reaches an altitude of 7,415 feet (2,260 meters).
The town of Zagora is located in Morocco's Draa River Valley, in the southeastern part of the country near Mount Zagora in the Little Atlas Range.
The main attractions in Zagora are the remains of an 11th century Almoravid fortress on Mount Zagora and the sign at one end of town that indicates that it would take 52 days to reach Timbuktu by camel or on foot. You can take camel treks from Zagora, or hike up into the mountains. There is a colorful and bustling market on Wednesdays and Sundays.
Travelers seeking the typical Kasbah experience will find it at the 17th-century destination known as Amrdil. This well-preserved (and equally well restored) structure offers impressive views of nearby landscapes, including the Skoura palm groves, and showcases an ancient slice of life that’s difficult to find anywhere else.
Visitors can tour the grounds of the main sand-colored structure and visit the popular museum, where handmade tools, historic wells and traditional bread ovens. It’s possible to explore the grounds solo, but travelers will likely find local and informal guides eager to offer up their services at a reasonable price.
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