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March 23, 2011
February 23, 2003
Merzouga was only made accessible by a paved road three months ago, but still many people choose to travel by the rocky, arid plains leading up to the desert. It is best to stay in the town of Erfoud, an hour away, and then visit Merzouga on an organized trip. Most of the hotels in Erfoud will be able to hook you up with a guide and a 4X4 or a camel with which to visit Merzouga, the dunes, and the oases. In terms of excursions there are many options available. You can just take a day trip in a 4WD around the desert, not in it, to visit Merzouga and the oasis on the edge of the desert. They will serve you lunch at the oasis and allow you to walk around the dunes for a while. The 4WDs available are not able to go inside the desert because the dunes are too jagged and steep, you can only enter by camel. You can arrange a quick half-day trip into the desert on a camel very easily. We however chose to take camels into the middle of the desert, and spend the night in a tent among the dunes through Tuareg Expiditions. It was an unforgettable experience. Most tourists that come to Merzouga, and that is not many, come and only see the oasis on the outskirts of the desert, but never get deep into the desert. After about a two hour camel trek with our Berber guide, we were in the heart of the desert and any evidence of civilization had disappeared. It was just our guide, a some tents, and us. Our guide made us a traditional Berber dinner of tajine (a stew with potatoes and chicken) as we climbed the highest dune around to catch the sunset. After a dramatic sunset we descended for some tea and then dinner. Soon it was pitch dark and it was just us sitting by a fire, with nobody else around. Pure silence, no noise but the wind and the fire. The moon was almost full and the way it reflected of the sand it was hard to tell whether it was sand or snow that surrounded us. Just lying there under a blanket of stars completely alone, I can’t think of anything much more romantic.
In the morning we woke up in time for the sunset, had some tea, and were back to Erfoud by 10am, one of my best memories.
From journal Driving Morocco: Casa to Erfoud