The Erg Chigaga desert
- Erg Chigaga: what it brings and where to find it.
- Throughout the trip.
- Arriving at Erg Chigaga.
- Things to do in Erg Chigaga.
- Attractions to visit nearby.
- Hotels and Camps in Erg Chigaga:
In any forum they will tell you that there are two places in Morocco where you can actually spend a night in the desert: the Erg Chebbi dunes and the Erg Chigaga desert dunes, which require an 8-10 hour drive from Marrakesh. The basic answer is that it depends on your interests and style of travel.
Erg Chigaga has fewer visitors than Erg Chebbi because its access is more difficult. After reaching M'hamid, the 60-kilometre drive to the Chigaga Dunes requires a 4X4 and an experienced professional driver because the route is unsealed and less traveled, making it wilder. Chigaga Dunes is for tourists looking for a secluded, primitive, private and unique experience. Driving from Mhamid, you pass the huge dry lake of Iriki, in the Iriki National Park, which offers a spectacular view and panorama.
Erg Chigaga: what it brings and where to find it.
The Sahara is the world's largest scorching desert, with a wide variety of landforms. Ergs, or sand deserts, are one of its best-known geographic features. Erg Chebbi and Erg Chigaga are two of the largest in the Moroccan Sahara.
Erg Chigaga appears to have a larger area but lower dunes (62 meters vs. 150 meters). However, as the dunes gradually rise in height, the difference in altitude is barely perceptible until you compare the panoramic views of the different places.
The biggest distinction is the ease of access, so the amount of tourist traffic is due to the distance from the nearest city: Merzouga is only a few meters away in the case of Erg Chebbi; M'Hamid is 50 km (30 miles) away in the case of Erg Chigaga, and the access road is unpaved, so only a 4×4 can reach this area, and tour operators rarely consider it. .
Throughout the trip.
The places are as significant in Morocco as the routes that lead to them. When the itineraries from Marrakech to both ergs are compared, they share the same path until they reach Ouarzazate, going through the port of Tizi n'Tichka and the ksar of Ait Ben Haddou.
The trail splits here, and although both paths take roughly the same time, the scenery is very different. Along the way to Erg Chebbi, there are kasbahs and rocky landscapes dotted with palm trees and patches of vegetation. From the middle of the trail, the route to Erg Chigaga changes and the landscape becomes more and more flat and arid.
Approaching Erb Chebbi, the road ends in a striking contrast of landscapes, but the road to Erg Chigaga gradually and leisurely transforms into dune terrain.
Arriving at Erg Chigaga.
The biggest difference is probably the distance from civilization. The Erg Chebbi dunes are half an hour by camel or on foot from Merzouga.
The trip to Erg Chigaga is quite unique. We have two or three hours of travel ahead of us once we leave M'Hamid behind. It makes the sense of a classic movie in three acts:
- The first act, the exhibition, takes us across a vast plain dotted with dark stones and hills known as the black desert.
- We traverse brush mounds with sand so fine that the slightest breeze lifts it into a ghostly veil that fills the air on the second upward movement.
- In the third act, the finale, we are greeted by a welcoming committee of toxic plants in the erg.
It's a journey that requires patience, but is also very rewarding, as you can savor the anticipation of gradually reaching the finish line.
Things to do in Erg Chigaga.
The uniqueness of the land and the region's cultural legacy endow the park with significant ecotourism potential, which will serve as a lever for local economic growth.
Trip to the desert in 4×4:
Route in 4×4 to Erg Chegaga 3bid lya to the largest sand dunes, and visit the sacred forum of the laaleg oasis with changing landscapes and terrains. Visit a nomadic family and learn about their way of life, taste the sand bread that makes this region famous, and continue the trip to the center of Lake Iriki, ideal for offroad driving and the route of many rallies.
Camping in Berber tents:
Camping in the desert is a unique experience for outdoor enthusiasts, with its otherworldly views, wildlife, and stars (which are amazing on a clear night!). There are several ergs (erg lmhazil, erg lghoul, 3bid lya…) in the Iriki Lake National Park, where you can find a wide variety of desert camps, from the simplest to the most luxurious.
Walking through the dunes:
Experience the tranquility of the Sahara desert by hiking the dunes, getting up early to watch the sunrise and staying late to watch the sunset.
Attractions to visit nearby.
The feeling of being miles away from any vestige of civilization should be motivation enough to make this trip, but you can always check out adjacent points of interest, either by adjusting your route to visit them or by using the erg as a starting point and exploring. the surrounding attractions. Here are some examples of these places:
Misleadingly named, this vast plain of petrified mud, once containing the waters of the Draa River, has lain dry for more than 20 years. It is worth stopping on the way back. The only traces of life are false landscapes in the form of mirages or, on rare occasions during the wet season, small lakes that attract local birds.
Despite being reputed to be the closest town, this historic caravan pass is worth a visit, due to its mud construction. Also notable are the ksars in an advanced state of disrepair on the outskirts of the city.
It is widely recognized for its distinctive green pottery and was once a center of education and religion. It is probably the most recommendable adjacent city, with a library with more than 4,000 manuscripts, an active place of pilgrimage and an underground kasbah designed to withstand extreme heat where hundreds of families still reside.
Oum Laalag Oasis:
A few kilometers from Erg Chigaga lies a 15-hectare oasis surrounded by an adobe wall, where water flows and palm trees flourish, giving it a sacred aura due to its remarkable proximity to the desert.
For those who cannot leave without buying a souvenir, this small town is the main manufacturer of Berber rugs in the country. A trip to one of the cooperatives here, along with some patience and negotiation, will allow you to avoid the middleman.
At this point, the choice is simple: Erg Chebbi or Erg Chigaga? There is no correct answer; Either option is a sensible choice, and your selection will be based on what you want to get out of your vacation.
The ideal option is to take advantage of a first trip to Marrakech to explore the Erg Chebbi, and then organize a second trip with additional desert landscapes, ending with the Erg Chigaga. This is the alternative for people who fall in love with the unmistakable beauty of Morocco, and it may be the only option that fits both ergs.