Morocco is known for its stunning landscapes, captivating culture, and incredible adventures, so I’ve rounded up seven epic things to do in Merzouga and the Sahara Desert during your time there.
No matter what you envision when you picture the Moroccan village of Merzouga, I can promise it’s even more beautiful and unreal in person.
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My trip to Morocco has been one of the most memorable experiences of my life, so I’m excited to share all the top things to do in Merzouga so you can start planning a trip!
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Things to Do in Merzouga
The town of Merzouga Morocco is located in the Sahara Desert on the edge of Erg Chebbi, a massive series of dunes, near the border of Algeria.
There’s an interesting local legend that Merzouga was once a thriving jungle until God turned the area into a desert as punishment for the townspeople not helping a poor woman.
This small village is dwarfed by the surrounding sand dunes that tower overhead and make you feel like you’ve stepped into the middle of the desert, completely isolated from the rest of the world.
It’s truly hard to put into words just how vast and encompassing the Erg Chebbi dunes are until you experience them for yourself.
Merzouga has become a popular tourist destination for visitors to Morocco who want to experience a taste of desert life.
If you’re booking a Sahara Desert trip from one of the main cities, it’s likely that you’re heading to Merzouga!
How to Get to Merzouga
Since Merzouga is located almost 350 miles from the bustling town of Marrakech, there are only three main options to travel there—with a tour group or on your own in a rental car or bus.
I’m not super fond of driving in foreign countries if I can avoid it and spending over 12 hours on a bus is never fun, so I recommend booking a tour that includes travel.
I absolutely, 10/10 would recommend Youssef from Morocco Exotic Adventures to take care of all the driving and planning for you. He booked everything for us, including the camel trek, desert glamping, ATV ride, and another hotel as we made our way from the desert back to Marrakech.
Where to Stay in Merzouga
The most popular accommodations in Merzouga are riads and desert glamping (which we’ll talk more about later on).
A riad is a Moroccan building consisting of separate rooms that typically surround a shared garden or pool area—they’re a bit more communal than traditional hotels and provide an extra element of authenticity during your trip.
There are plenty of riads in Merzouga to choose from that will make a comfortable home base for all your Sahara Desert adventures.
Hotel Riad Ali is a four-star riad situated near Lake Dayet Srij with features like a rooftop terrace, a swimming pool, and, most importantly, air conditioning!
Another popular Merzouga option is Riad Suerte Loca, an upscale hostel with a shared garden, pool, and terrace.
Now that you’re a little more familiar with where Merzouga is located and how to get there, let’s get into my recommendations for things to do in Merzouga.
We’ve all seen those stunning Instagram pictures of camel rides in the desert, and Merzouga is the perfect place to bring those magical photos to life.
There are a lot of ways to enjoy a camel ride in Merzouga, but I highly recommend embarking on an overnight camel trek through the dunes for plenty of time to snap all the Instagram pics your heart desires.
The local Merzouga guides will take you on the best camel-riding routes through the dunes where you’ll be greeted with an incredible sunset over the dunes.
The dunes are painted in dramatic pinks, purples, and oranges and you can watch the sun go down behind the massive Erg Chebbi dunes—there’s nothing like it!
This experience was so surreal, Omied and I felt like we were in a desktop computer background.
Many of the camel-riding tours available in Merzouga also include meals of traditional food and entertainment like music and dancing which is the perfect end to a day of adventuring.
The rolling dunes of Merzouga make for some of the best sand surfing in North Africa, and it’s a must during any Morocco trip!
There are a few ways to try sand surfing—the first is to use a sandboard (which is similar to a snowboard) where your feet are strapped in and you go zooming down the dunes upright.
I won’t lie, this option is a little more intense since wiping out in the sandy dunes is not the most comfortable feeling in the world!
The other option is to grab a board without straps and lay on your stomach so you slide down the dune at full speed.
There are plenty of local shops that rent out sandboards if you want to try that method, and guided sandboarding tours are also available in the area.
One of the most epic things to do in Merzouga is to spend the night camping in the Sahara Desert.
The stars are incredibly bright in the desert so you can stay up late star-gazing and sharing endless conversations with friends around the campfire as you sip on Moroccan mint tea.
Many Merzouga campsites also provide the opportunity to try activities like sandboarding or getting a traditional henna tattoo.
A lot of camping options in Merzouga give you the option to stay in a shared camp where you can meet people from all over the world or book a luxury tent with features like a private terrace and en-suite bathroom.
I’ll be honest, I prefer glamping to actually roughing it in the desert, so one of my top recommendations for luxury desert camping is Beldi Camp.
This top-rated Merzouga desert camping spot is highly rated and serves traditional Moroccan cuisine—as a bonus, vegan and vegetarian food options are also available.
Without a doubt, one of the most epic things to do in Merzouga is a Jeep safari.
Jeep safari desert tours are one of the most popular ways visitors to the area like to explore Merzouga and the dunes.
The bonus of a Jeep safari is you can get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and head into some of Morocco’s most remote areas.
You can expect to see stunning mountain ranges, vast stretches of dunes, and a variety of flora and fauna on your Jeep safari.
Jeep safaris in Merzouga typically last anywhere from a few hours to a full day or even multiple if you’re feeling adventurous.
I think anyone visiting Morocco should take the time to embark on a Jeep safari to explore the Sahara desert, dunes, villages, oases, and more.
Another great way to explore the Sahara Desert in Merzouga is by quad biking—aka riding on ATVs.
You can rent an ATV for a few hours or even a whole day and ride around the desert, enjoying its unique beauty with complete freedom.
Most quad biking day trips start early in the morning so you can watch the sunrise over the dunes as you ride your ATV.
Riding an ATV through the huge sand dunes was so much fun, and I recommend everyone add it to their bucket list!
Despite being in the middle of the Sahara desert, there are natural bodies of water near Merzouga where you can see incredible wildlife.
Lake Dayet Srij is one of the most easily accessible water spots from Merzouga since it’s only a few miles outside the city.
This lake typically dries out every year from May to November (which can vary depending on how rainy the season has been) but when it’s full, it becomes a true desert oasis.
Moroccan birds like sparrows, hawks, and even flocks of flamingos can be seen at Lake Dayet Srij which is a surreal experience.
Lake Dayet Srij is a great place for an afternoon picnic where you can enjoy birdwatching and wildlife-spotting as you eat.
For an authentic look at life in Morocco, I highly recommend paying a visit to one of the Berber villages located near Merzouga.
The Berbers are a local tribe with ties to northwest Africa dating back to 10,000 BC.
There are many Berber communities scattered throughout Morocco, Algeria, Libya, and other African countries.
Going on a desert tour where you have the opportunity to visit one of these Berber villages is an incredible way to experience local culture and history firsthand.
If you’re lucky you might even get to see a performance of traditional Gnawa music, a religious style of music that combines poetry, rhythm, and dance.
And there you have my top picks for the most epic things to do in Merzouga!
Believe me when I say a trip to Morocco will change the way you see the world, and Merzouga is one of the most unreal places I’ve visited during my worldwide travels.
Make sure to tag me on Insta (@wtfab) if you take a trip to Merzouga and try any of these activities so I can see your adventures!
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Merzouga is a small village located in the Sahara Desert, about 350 miles from the town of Marrakech.
Yes, Merzouga is a beautiful Moroccan town where you can try all kinds of Sahara desert activities.
Elise Armitage is an entrepreneur and founder of What The Fab, a travel + lifestyle blog based in California. At the beginning of 2019, Elise left her corporate job at Google to chase her dreams: being an entrepreneur and helping women find fabulous in the everyday. Since then, she’s launched her SEO course Six-Figure SEO, where she teaches bloggers how to create a passive revenue stream from their website using SEO. Featured in publications like Forbes, Elle, HerMoney, and Real Simple, Elise is a firm believer that you can be of both substance and style.