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City break add-on offering backcountry hiking

We provide visitors to the Sahara Desert unique opportunities for activity holidays in Morocco and immersion in the Sahraoui culture beyond the sunset camel ride and night in a desert camp. Expanded flights from both Casablanca and Marrakech make the Moroccan Sahara more accessible for travellers with limited time.

We reward travellers who venture to little-known Erg Chigaga in Morocco’s south with a unique Sahara Desert experience. This is one that combines breathtaking scenery, hospitality that goes above and beyond, and unexpected backcountry hiking through Morocco’s south. 

Desert Solitude, by Alex Disaro. Feature image (top) by M Rebans.

Disconnected activity holidays

The Erg Chigaga sits within the Iriqui National Park. The location is far from Erg Chebbi dunes near Merzouga where busloads of tourists visit for a sunset camel trek and night in the desert, or even Toubkal National Park where trekkers summit Mount Toubkal.

The Erg Chigaga provides the opportunity to enjoy a few days of disconnected glamping, wilderness camping and desert hiking. 

The joy of travelling to this region is to slow down and experience the Sahara Desert. The silence, the Amazigh way of life, the canopy of stars that light up the night sky, and sunrises over the dunes combined with experiencing the true local hospitality and culture make for an unforgettable adventure.  

There is no light pollution here, since the nearest village is 60km away. This makes it ideal for night photography and star-gazing. Please see below for details of our Morocco Photography Tour to this region.

The Madouar, by Alex Disaro

Activities in the Sahara desert

Given the day trip options and opportunity for cultural immersion, we encourage travellers to use Erg Chigaga as a unique base for activity holidays.

Here are just some of the options available –

  • Setting up camp under the large tamarisk trees at the oasis village of Erg Smar. You will doubt you’re still in the heart of desert terrain, yet near the dry riverbed of the Draa where our co-owner Yahya Boulfrifi’s family once farmed.
  • Hiking a circular four-day route to reach the remote Erg Zahar dune field, little-visited and offering astonishing views from its highest point across the erg. Erg Zahar truly represents a ‘sea of sand’. 
  • Trekking by camelback beneath the palm trees through M’hamid’s old settlements on the banks of the Draa River course. Stop for lunch in the shade once the palm trees give way to the beginnings of the dunes in the west. Complete the circuit back to M’hamid across the open desert terrain, or be driven onwards to the Erg Chigaga.
  • Switching off from civilization for a six-day hike through some of the least visited parts of the Iriqui National Park, accessed by following the southern course of the Draa River, and the remote Erg Zahar dunes south of Zagora.
  • Baking fresh bread with a nomadic family in the sand beneath the embers of the campfire to enjoy with tea.
  • Remote picnic lunches under shade of trees, with far-reaching vistas.

Sand bread at Erg Smar, by Alex Disaro

Be guided through the region by our local team. Our team are the last generation to have grown up as children in the desert, previously practising a way of life that was unchanged in centuries. Our parents kept farms and livestock in the desert when water was freely available. That way of life became untenable two decades ago when the river to this region (Draa) was dammed near its source and the desert encroached on farmland.

Tea at Erg Smar, by Alex Disaro

Flights to the Sahara desert

At the time of release, the following domestic flights serve the Sahara Desert town of Zagora (three hours from Erg Chigaga):

  • From Marrakech (a hub for European travel) two times per week
  • From Casablanca (a hub for trans-Atlantic flights) four times per week

To Ouarzazate, the Hollywood of Africa, just 5.5 hours from Erg Chigaga, flights from both Marrakech and Casablanca depart several times per week.

Sea of Sand, by Michael Breitung

About Us

We have a combined love of the outdoors and aim to share Boulfrifi’s rich desert culture.

Boulfrifi is an experienced desert trekking guide and knows the Sahara Desert routes intimately, and, naturally, how to handle any situation in the desert wilderness. Boulfrifi’s family left the desert in 1990 as water, previously provided by the Draa River to deep wells, became too scarce and life in the desert untenable. Burrows left corporate life in London and, as a fan of Morocco, eventually made the country her base. For her, the country offers it all in one captivating package but the desert is truly special. 

Please contact us for advice on planning your activity holiday in Morocco.

Further details on our Morocco Photography Tour, 22 February 2020, please click here .

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