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Erg Chigaga
Erg Chigaga

Erg Chigaga

M'Hamid El Ghizlane, M'Hamid El Ghizlane, Morocco

The Basics

With dunes towering almost 1,000 feet (300 meters) high—some still marked only by wind-blown ripples—Erg Chigaga offers an unforgettable empty-desert experience, making an overnight stay a must. The only way to reach the dunes is by 4WD, camel, or on foot. Almost all tours include a camel safari element, whether it’s a multi-day adventure or an hour undulating over the dunes in full Berber garb.

Besides enjoying campfire feasts, desert sunsets, and stargazing, you can go hiking or sandboarding down dunes on a customized snowboard. Many travelers start from Marrakech and spend a couple of days enjoying the scenic route: packages save you the stress of arranging your own accommodation and activities, and often work out cheaper.

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Things to Know Before You Go

  • Desert adventures can be magical with kids who are old enough not to mind long drives and heat, however they’re not stroller-friendly.

  • The rolling motion of a camel is not for everyone so it’s recommended to try a shorter tour before committing to a multi-day safari.

  • Bring a scarf and sunglasses to protect against wind-blown sand and wear closed-toe shoes in summer as the sand can be extremely hot.

  • The Erg Chigaga dunes and desert camps are not wheelchair-accessible.

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How to Get There

The Erg Chigaga dunes roll for an impressive 25 miles (40 kilometers) through the desert southwest of M’Hamid, just north of the Algerian border. There are buses to M’Hamid from Casablanca, Marrakech, and Ouarzazate. The nearest airport is in Ouarzazate, about 160 miles (259 kilometers) away but most travelers take the scenic route from Marrakech.

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When to Get There

Spring (March-May) and fall (September-November) are the best times to enjoy Erg Chigaga. During these months, the nights are still reasonably warm and the days aren’t scorching hot.

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Which Moroccan Dunes Should I Visit?

The three best-known dune fields in Morocco are Erg Chigaga, Erg Lihoudi, and Erg Chebbi, near Merzouga. Though the Erg Lihoudi dunes are smaller and less serene than Erg Chigaga, they are easily-accessible and therefore a good choice for travelers on a budget. Erg Chebbi is a great option if all-terrain vehicle rides are on your agenda, while Erg Chigaga is ideal for longer desert trips.

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