The Great Dunes 3 Days
When to trek?
October through April
October still has rather warm day-time temperatures, very pleasant evenings. Night-time lows of around freezing in December / January. But winter light conditions are beautiful, due to the low winter sun. Possibility of a light rain shower in March. The desert is in bloom and camel calves are grazing. Early April sees the arrival of higher temperatures.
Who is it suitable for?
Anyone wishing to get well off the beaten path and to experience the raw beauty of the Sahara.
The Iriqui National Park is home to an array of flora & fauna and the scenery unparalleled. Be prepared to walk on average 5-6 hrs per day. Option to trek by camel. Simply bring a sense of adventure.
Food & drink – what to expect
Green tea, strong and sweet – don’t be afraid to ask without sugar
Coffee, strong – if you take it white, order a ‘nuss nuss’; black espresso or ‘allongé’
Tagine – slow-cooked casserole
Couscous – steamed semolina
Brochettes – kebab skewers
Harira – tomato-base soup with pulses / beans
Bread – served at all mealtimes
Crepes – breakfast / evening snack
*gluten-free and vegetarian catered for
This 3 days desert trek is a straight-line route, bringing you to the longest sand dune field in Morocco, the Erg Chigaga great dunes, approx. 60km from your trek start point at Mhamid. You will therefore require 4×4 transport back out of the desert, with two onward journey options.
On reaching Erg Chigaga, you can choose to camp a third night at the foot of the great dunes or, if short on time, travel back out of the desert to Mhamid on the third evening (the 2hrs journey by 4×4 to Mhamid will be made shortly after sunset, to allow you time to enjoy the day’s end from a vantage point on the dunes). If you camp at Erg Chigaga on the last night, you are able to take a vehicle transfer out of the desert next morning to Marrakech (or Ouarzazate), exiting the desert to the north-west at Foum Zguid and expecting to reach Marrakech late afternoon, or transfer back to Mhamid during the morning.
Your trekking route will take you via the regions marked Lotide and Bougarn on our Map. You will stay north of the Draa River course.
Click on the images to enlarge / © Images courtesy of M. Nestor, M. Charytonowicz & Wild Morocco
Leave the village of M’hamid and trek west in the direction of the great dunes of Erg Chigaga, with the mountain ridge of the Jebel Bani far to your north but in sight for the entire trek. Cross dry river beds (e.g. Oued Naam), and walk through a variety of desert vegetation and scrub before the terrain opens out and becomes more stark. As the day’s trek draws to a close, expect to camp amidst gently rolling dunes and Tamarisk trees, which offer shelter.
Progressing westwards, reach ever-more remote terrain, and larger sand dunes (e.g. Bougarn) surrounded by broad, dry earth plateaux and desert hamada (black stone). Scramble over the dunes and you’ll be able to see Erg Chigaga in the distance. Camp will be made west of Bougarn, in the seclusion of smaller dunes and shrubs.
As the sand becomes deeper (in former water courses/dried rivers), the surrounding plateaux open out to different kinds of plant and tree-life, and you will trek near an area that offers grazing land for the elusive Dorcas gazelle. You will start to trek through bigger dunes before reaching the last plateau bordering Erg Chigaga. Reach Erg Chigaga in time to enjoy sunset. Settle down and make camp once more or look forward to the 4×4 journey back to M’hamid.
TREKKING WITH COMFORT
During each desert trek, wild camps are established by night. We provide the essentials for a night under the stars in the Sahara desert.
However, if you choose to upgrade to ‘trekking with comfort’, your nights camping out in the Sahara will be altogether a different experience. The camps, as with the standard trekking, are not fixed by location and are entirely private for your trek.
Sleep on a plush mattress, with linens, quilt and pillows, hot water bottle (in Winter), inside a spacious, carpeted Berber tent (5mx4m). In warmer conditions, have your bed set up outside.
We provide a separate tent for evening meal-times, with table and chairs, and pouffes/cushions for relaxation near the campfire, or for star-gazing. Lunches are al fresco and under shade.
Hot water and towels are available for bucket-washing (which conserves water).
Sodas, wine, beer will be available (at no extra charge).