MOROCCO: DUNES AND DROMEDARIES

I love the desert. But I’ll admit: I’m partial to the clean, colourful ones. The Namib is hard to beat in that respect, but the Moroccan outskirts of the Sahara aren’t such bad places to be either.

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The dunes of Erg Chebbi: f/14 @ 11mm.

The most easily accessible pieces of desert are Erg Chebbi, just outside Merzouga, and Erg Chigaga, a couple of hours by 4×4 from M’Hamid. I visited both for four nights in February, and although a sandstorm kept me confined to my tent for most of my time in Erg Chigaga I still got a chance to have a look around.

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M’Hamid sandstorm, captured from inside the car

Erg Chebbi is the most popular, and it’s easier to reach than its western counterpart. The sand here is more colourful, too: more orange, and the dunes are bigger. The downside? More visitors in a smaller space, which means more tracks in the sand and, well, more visitors. Still, there are some beautiful dunes here, and having people in the shots isn’t necessarily all bad.

Tourists watching the sunset at Erg Chebbi
Tourists getting ready to watch the sunset at Erg Chebbi

Erg Chigaga is, not surprisingly then, slightly less colourful, but larger and less visited. I missed the colours from Erg Chebbi, but there is more to see here. There is a true nomad culture around here, which also means that there is a distinct possibility of running into herds of dromedaries (with or without their shepherds) on the outskirts of the dunes, and a there is a pretty incredible lake nearby. It’s completely dry, but the heat creates an incredible mirage of water, and the bizarre, isolated cafes make for interesting motifs. Be warned though: when the lake is at its most impressive, in summer, it is suffocatingly hot here.

Dromedaries at sunrise, Erg Chigaga
Dromedaries at sunrise, Erg Chigaga
Travelers at sunset, Erg Chegaga
Travelers at sunset, Erg Chigaga
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Sunset at Erg Chebbi
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Dromedaries, Erg Chigaga
Night over Erg Chebbi
Night over Erg Chebbi
Sunset, Erg Chigaga
Sunset, Erg Chigaga
Duneboarding, Erg Chebbi
Duneboarding, Erg Chebbi

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