On this page, we will do a simple comparison about which Sahara desert to Visit in Morocco, Erg Chebbi, Erg Chigaga, Zagora desert, or Agafay desert.
Many travelers visit Morocco specifically with the intention of venturing off into the desert and spending a night under the stars with a camel ride. A desert adventure is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity you shouldn’t miss out on.
If you are going to Morocco, visiting the Sahara Desert should be at the top of your bucket list. Planning a trip to the Sahara desert can be confusing what desert to choose. In this article, I will explain the differences between the locations of the Sahara desert in Morocco, so you will choose the best option for your future trip to the magic land.
Find out all you need to know about visiting the Sahara desert of Morocco below.
The Erg Chebbi desert, also known as the Merzouga desert, is the most visited in Morocco and a mandatory stop on our Morocco desert tours either starts from Marrakesh, Casablanca, Fes, and Tangier.
The Erg Chebbi desert is the closest desert to the Algerian border and is located in the extreme southeast of Morocco. It is one of the many small deserts that make up the great Sahara Desert. From Marrakech, it is a little less than 600 km taking the Thousand Kasbahs road, which passes through such interesting points as the Ksar of Ait Ben Haddou, Ouarzazate, the Todra, and Dades Gorges. So the ideal would be to take a trip of several days from Marrakech and visit all these places on the way.
Merzouga is such an iconic place to visit in Morocco that it’s considered one of the best destinations in the country!
Erg Chegaga is a much younger destination, as owing to border disputes with Algeria, tourists have only been visiting since the 1990s. As far as solitude is concerned, however, it still has the upper hand over Erg Chebbi.The journey from Marrakech is about 9 hours, but the last two have to be by 4X4 as the road is not sealed once you pass the gateway town of M’hamid.
The journey down to Erg Chegaga is fascinating, You can add a visit to Ait Ben Haddou along the way and then follow the Draa Valley and the many oases & crumbling Kasbahs dotted along the way. Once you reach the small town of Mhamid, you can continue on to one of the camps on the dunes, or you can trek by camel direct from there. The dunes themselves are not as big as out at Erg Chegaga, but the desert is somehow more vast and wild here. Erg Chegaga offers the chance for some true wild camping and saves you a couple of hours in the car. It is perfectly possible to manage a visit to Erg Chegaga in 3 days.
Our short Chegaga desert tours are available just from Marrakesh & Ouarzazate, If you are coming from the other major cities of Morocco, we recommend Erg Chebbi desert.
Zagora desert is rocky and there are not as many sand dunes. Don’t get me wrong, you will see sand dunes there but when you look around 360 degrees, you won’t see sand dunes surrounding you. Let’s put it this way. In the Zagora desert are just a few sand dunes, just a few small hills of sand. And don’t imagine huge sand dunes that are bigger than you and you need to climb them.
In the Zagora desert, you will see a black rocky surface as well. To be authentic, that is a real desert as well. A desert is not just beautiful sand dunes like you have seen in Hollywood movies.
If you want to see beautiful sand dunes that are big and all around you, you definitively need to go to Merzouga desert or Erg Chegaga desert instead of Zagora desert.
The real Sahara desert of the Zagora region is located 98 km from the Zagora town, close to M’hamid village. There, the desert has beautiful dunes called Erg Chegaga. To reach the dunes, from the village you will have to take 4×4 and drive for another 1,5 hours.
At Sahara desert excursions we offer The 2 days Zagora Sahara desert tour to the rocky desert next to Zagora town. If it’s not a real Sahara desert and has no dunes, and it’s worth spending a night there. This trip is special for those who are short on time in Morocco. Also, for traveling on a budget.
The Agafay desert is located thirty kilometers in the South of Marrakech and extends over several hundred acres. This rocky desert can be likened to a sand desert. Indeed, its white dunes stand and landscape are similar to the Sahara dunes. In the middle of the desert, is a surprising oasis, a haven of peace and tranquility, where the fauna and flora can easily develop. In this paradise, frogs and turtles live peacefully in the oueds, surrounded by water and rocks. Lost in the dunes are still some Berber villages that continue to exist in this austere but sublime nature.
Things to do in Agafay: