Morocco is a photogenic country, a place of colors, an assault to all senses. That said, you can imagine how many pictures I took last week. Yeah, many. I took hundreds of photos in Marrakech and Ait Ben Haddou. I’ve photographed the Ourika Valley and Ouarzazate. The amount of images captured during our day in the Sahara desert was my personal record.
At some point I laughed at myself. How many pictures of sand one can possibly take in an hour? It’s just sand, girl. Mountains of sand.
Do you know how beautiful mountains of sand can be? How magical it looks when light plays with grains? When dry wind blows them away?
We spend a whole day driving and trekking in the desert around Merzouga. The only thing I knew before choosing Merzouga as our base was that this very spot was famous for the highest sand dunes in the Moroccan Sahara. This was the only thing I needed to know to hop on a very long bus ride from Ouarzazate.
Sand, light and wind. It seems that that’s enough to make one girl and her camera happy.
Sand, light and wind. I’ve hiked the highest dune to see more of it. I’ve hiked the highest dune to discover that it’s impossible to get enough of it.
Here are some of the photos. I promise you a lot of sand. Be careful, it gets everywhere. I still have a handful of it in my pockets, my bag and, last but not least, my ears.
Here is a handful of practical information, just in case you got so impressed by the sand that you are already about to book your flight to Morocco.
How to get to Merzouga: We got to the village from Ouarzazate with the Supratours bus. The ticket was 180 MAD per person. The ride takes approx. 8 hours. You can get to Merzouga with the same company from other transport hubs f.ex. from Marrakech, Fes and Errachidia. On the way out we went for a night bus to Fes which is a good option if you feel time-strapped.
Where to stay in Merzouga: It might be a relatively small village but its large sand dunes have made it popular. You can find numerous guesthouses, hotels and desert camps providing accommodation under the traditional Berber tents. There’s something for everyone. We chose to stay at Auberge Akabar. It’s a family owned guesthouse decorated in Berber style, located 2,5 km from the Supratours bus stop. It’s situated just at the edge of the desert which basically means that you can have a breakfast with a view on the dunes. And no, sand doesn’t get into your coffee.
Note: My stay in Auberge Akabar wasn’t discounted. I’m including the link as my thank you to the owner for his great hospitality.
How to organize your day in the desert: You will need help. You will need a guide or a camel or a jeep or all of it. Most of the hotels and guesthouses organize desert activities for their guests. We booked our guide and his jeep a day before arriving to Merzouga, in Ouarzazate. If you have a bit more time than we did, you can take care of it after your arrival to Merzouga. I didn’t exactly count but I felt like there was million options to choose from. It seemed to me that everyone there owns a camel or ten and a jeep or two. Guess what, everyone there will be super happy to take you out to the sand. Before choosing your desert guide check several options and compare prices. We’ve checked that, they do differ. Yeah, and you can even try to bargain.
Be a Berber for a day.