Lonely Planet Writer

Pathfinder pics: the Sahara Desert’s Erg Chebbi dunes

Pathfinder pics The Sahara Desert’s Erg Chebbi Dunes Lonely Planet blog

Lonely Planet Pathfinder João Leitão takes us on a journey through the unmissable Erg Chebbi Dunes in the heart of the Sahara Desert.

Sat on the edge of the Morocco and Algeria borders, a sea of golden sand spreads as far as the eye can see; Erg Chebbi, a former nomad outpost, is Morocco's most famous desert destination. With stunning views of silky smooth sun-drenched sands rising 250m, it's a mesmerising place to visit. The villages of Merzouga, Hassilabied and Khamlia encircle the dunes and invite visitors to experience the astounding desert environment.

By no means should Erg Chebbi dunes ever be missed during a trip to Morocco.

Move to the beat

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Morocco is well known for its music and the unique drumming culture that originated in Erg Chebbi is famous throughout the country. The sound of this particularly exotic style of drumming is sure to make your heart beat faster and your body eager to dance. Inline with tradition, a drumming session is often not without an invitation to enjoy a cup of sweet Moroccan tea.

Tea for two

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Those who live in the desert are genuinely proud of their ancestral heritage. Having had the chance to meet them and be invited to join a typical desert tea ceremony is an experience that will stay with me forever.

Expect the unexpected

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While hiking across the dunes, I bumped into this solitary donkey. I often think Morocco is a place to expect the unexpected and I feel this confirms it. And also, yes— donkeys do climb sand dunes!

Little luxuries

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I am always in awe of the vivid colours that can be seen in the desert. Although it's a dry environment, underground aquifers provide enough water to keep the oases fertile and hotel swimming pools full.

A sense of solitude

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I found time in the Sahara Desert calming; a much-needed chance to stand back and reconnect with myself. It also gave me a chance to reconfirm to myself that life is best lived being enjoyed to the fullest.

A sea of sand

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My favourite part of Erg Chebbi is the ever-changing golden tone of the dunes as the sun passes from dawn to dusk; rich earth tones contrasted by deep green oases and the crisp white clothing of its inhabitants create an unreal spectacle of colours.

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