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Les dunes de Chegaga

Les dunes de Chegaga

Le sable, encore le sable, toujours le sable...

Dunes de sable à l'ouest de M'Hamid

Dunes de sable à l'ouest de M'Hamid

L'erg Chegaga s'étend sur 40 km

Arrivée au campement de M'Hamid

Arrivée au campement de M'Hamid

Au moment du coucher du soleil.

Coucher de soleil

Coucher de soleil

Sur les dunes de l'erg Chegaga

Sur la plus haute dune

Sur la plus haute dune

Victoire !

Bivouac près de M'Hamid

Bivouac près de M'Hamid

Tentes berbères.

Tafraout pink granite

Fascination of the Sahara in M'Hamid

The Sahara desert exerts a total fascination.It can be reached in about eight hours from the Jardin aux Etoiles, by good roads. But the path of schoolchildren can lead you to add extra emotion to the course. In M'Hamid, Erg Chegaga promises intense and unforgettable moments. Book your stay with one of the many operators found on the Internet. A package including for example two nights is sufficient.

 

 

From your riad in M'Hamid                        

Leave very early in the morning from the riad. There are several routes to get from the Souss Valley to M'Hamid, gateway to the Sahara, located in the very south of theDraa Valley. We recommend takingTaliouine, capital of saffron, after avoidingTaroudant from the south (contrary to what Gooogle Maps mentions, which unnecessarily lengthens the journey).

 

The landscape is superb. Mandatory stop atTazenakht! This is where the finest and most accomplished Berber rugs come from. Do not let yourself be bamboozled by the first tout you come across and prefer the shops located outside the village. These are the most typical and often the cheapest.

 

The first two videos below show how these stunning expressions of Moroccan craftsmanship are made. The third features the Amazigh (Berber) singerFatima Tabaamrant and its dancers on the occasion of the 2015 Carpet Festival.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Three possibilities arise as soon as Taznakht is crossed. The first is to continue straight towards Agdz, then Zagora, before joining M'Hamid to get there at the end of the day.

 

The second gives a chance to Ouarzazate, by the main road. Stop there, if you feel like it, for a night, for example atDar Daif, which we highly recommend. The third possibility will make you enjoy incredible visions if you take the road to Ouarzazate via Tisslit. But be careful, this one quickly turns into a track, nevertheless  controllable.

 

Fortified village of Tamnougalt

 

If you have chosen the path of schoolchildren, after Agdz, which will have already given you your ration of sublime landscapes, stop imperatively atTamnougalt. You are in the Draa Valley and the wadi fertilizes the fields. This fortified village dates from the 16th century. It is one of the oldest ksour still standing. A pleasant and knowledgeable guide stands at the entrance to the fortifications surrounded by four gates. Trust him.

 

Tamnougalt left with regrets, the descent of the Draa Valley sees traditional buildings, partly dilapidated and wide palm groves. We are here in the heart of the country of the date palm whosethree copies were put in the swimming pool of our riad. 

 

Arrives Zagora, which deserves a stopover. Whether going to M'Hamid or returning, unless you are in a hurry, we recommend the excellentRiad Dar Sofiane.

In M'Hamid and through the dunes of Chegaga                        

From Zagora, you still have a long drive to M'Hamid. The sand begins to appear here and there. The road is sometimes surprisingly good, sometimes a bit trickier. Here comes the palm grove of Ouled Driss and some of the most attractive hotels, such asAt Pasha's, OrDar Azawad, then M'Hamid.

 

Formerly called Tazagalt in tachelhit (Berber language), a name that still refers to the annual festival held there, this town rich in adobe constructions is populated by former nomads. She lives in the desert. The natives often have only one desire: to return. 

 

One of the stages of the Paris-Dakar

 

M'Hamid was one of the favorite stages of the organizers of theParis-Dakar when he had not yet left the African tracks for those of South America.

 

This abandonment, which occurred in 2008, was badly experienced by some in Morocco, but not by the majority of operators who offer excursions in the sand here. More slender racing cars frightened people and animals, causing damage to nature. Since then, the latter having horror of a vacuum, other competitions, less invasive, have taken over, such as the rally raid M'Hamid Express.

 

For all tastes 

 

In order to enjoy the fascination of the desert sand without stress, it is best to book your excursion in advance. The Internet offers a large number of service providers and services, fromstandard level Atgreat romantic luxury.  Beware of the most economical packages: they include overnight stays in bivouacs with Spartan sanitary comfort. But isn't that also what adventure in the desert is?

 

All hiking durations are imaginable. One night is too little, two nights is already very good. Try the fun experience of camel riding.

 

Chegaga, the most beautiful dunes in southern Morocco

 

Bivouacs are installed near M'Hamid. They serve to welcome visitors upon their arrival.Chegaga dunes. From M'Hamid, it is reached in about fifty kilometers, in 4x4, by tracks traced between the tamarisks. These dunes, the most beautiful in southern Morocco, form a large expanse of some 40 km by 15.

 

You can't see its confines, even when climbing one of the highest heights, which can reach sixty meters. Guides claim that they culminate at 300 meters, but this is to encourage you to make the effort to trudge there...

 

The reward, at sunset, is fabulous.

 

Around the wood fire

 

Many excursions include a stop atthe sacred oasis of Oum Lâalag, especially for lunch. At night, desert lovers spend it in bivouacs set up at the entrance to the dunes. There are more than ten. These camps made up of tents reinforced with hard structures serve meals. They include sanitary facilities whose comfort depends on their category.

 

The best time is that of the gathering, in the evening, around the central wood fire, to sing, exchange and drink the traditional mint tea, sometimes accompanied by beverages... more alcoholic.

 

Security issue

 

Is security ensured in this region of Morocco which borders the Algerian border? Although zero security no longer exists, no matter where you are in the world, Moroccan law enforcement agencies doremarkable work, given as an example. Terrorists don't have it easy in the Alawite Kingdom, and we can only rejoice!

 

Along the border with Algeria, the Royal Armed Forces, strongly established throughout the region, have set up barriers deemed impassable, equipped with cameras and minefields. In the past, the town of M'Hamid was known for its multiple traffics. Morocco's extremely determined fight against terrorism has had the effect of neutralizing this trafficking, at least for the most part, as far as we know.

 

Result: any tourist who has recently had the chance to stay in M'Hamid and in the dunes of Chegaga will assure you that the most absolute tranquility reigns over this part of the Moroccan desert.

 

Do not mix up

 

The surroundings of M'Hamid should not be confused with the formerly Spanish Sahara. Extending to Mauritania, this vast expanse is an integral part of the national territory, according to Rabat. Its border area with Algeria is not recommended for tourists.

 

The khaïma tent, the most used in the desert

 

The Berber tent, called khaïma, designates the traditional habitat of the nomadic tribes, who populated Morocco from the Middle Atlas to the Sahara. Brown in color, it is woven with goat, sheep or dromedary hair, hence its rustic appearance which distinguishes it from the caidal tent.

 

The latter is in white canvas, with a more sophisticated look. It is decorated with black patterns reminiscent of the oil lamp, says qandil. The khaïma tent includes central pillars and a wooden vault, called hammar. Eit is used more forSightseeing excursions in the desert than the caidal tent, because it is more authentic.

 

The khaïma tent is made by women, who remain the owners, their status among the Berbers being traditionally much more advanced than among the Arabs. The tent represents fertility and family. The triangle symbol has been taken up inthe exterior decoration of the Jardin aux Etoiles. 

Sublime course by Tata or Taznaght and Foum Zguid                   

The most direct way to reach M'Hamid and to return is to takeTata or Taznaght. Both routes lead toFoum Zguid. From this last locality, it is possible to join M'Hamid by a track.

 

As shown in the video below on the left, the pitfalls of this route in the sand and rocks can only be mastered with the help of a 4x4 vehicle and... good driving experience. This track reduces travel time but not all kinds of emotions.

 

A taste of desert

 

By taking by Tata, we add an additional dimension. A Tissint, which owes its notoriety tomartian meteorite who fell there on July 18, 2011, we experience a foretaste of desert which can represent a solution if you want to save the kilometers that lead to M'Hamid. The Akka Nait Sidi campoffers an adventure that is also worth it.

 

Whatever your preference, enjoy the stunning beauty of the mountains, hills and rock faces that line the route, especially between Igherm, Tata and Foum Zguid. Our photos above and the video below on the right give an idea of this.

 

 

You have to count at least a day of Jardin aux Etoiles at the gateway to the Sahara, whether or not making the detour via Ouarzazate. But it is so pleasant to stop on the way...
 
Anchor 3
Anchor 4
A jewel to contemplate if you know how to take the time: Tamnougalt                          

Recommended Riads in Ouarzazate and Zagora
Anchor 2
Dar Daif, Ouarzazate

Dar Daif, Ouarzazate

Un riad au caractère marqué.

La patron, Jean-Pierre Datcharry

La patron, Jean-Pierre Datcharry

En discussion avec des clients sur une des innombrables terrasses.

Une vraie ambiance

Une vraie ambiance

Un dédale de terrasses, de corridors, de chambres.

Restauration

Restauration

Tout à fait excellente.

Une vue admirable

Une vue admirable

Palmiers, lac de Ouarzazate et l'Atlas à l'arrière-plan.

Riad Dar Sofiane, Zagora

Riad Dar Sofiane, Zagora

Magnifique construction typique de la Vallée du Drâa.

Piscine et palmiers

Piscine et palmiers

Un lieu clos, très agréable.

Chambres claires

Chambres claires

Nouvellement rénovées.

Salle à manger d'hiver

Salle à manger d'hiver

Belle harmonie de couleurs.

Petit déjeuner

Petit déjeuner

Excellentissime !

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