Morocco Desert Tour to Erg Chigaga: Camping in the Sahara Desert

Camping in the Sahara Desert on a Morocco Desert Tour—Erg Chigaga Trip

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M’hamid and Merzouga are the two desert hubs of Morocco, leading curious, sand dune-seeking adventurers into a world they’ve only seen in pictures and movies.

Most people have no idea what a desert is really like. Barren, empty, and sandy come to mind, but the desert is so much more. After I left, I found myself using the words dramatic, inspiring, stunning, and brutally beautiful instead.

My desert experience was nothing short of magical.

An Erg Chigaga desert tour is the best thing to do in Morocco.
So close, yet so far—Erg Chigaga in the far back.

And if you go to Morocco, missing out on a desert experience would be a crime… against yourself.

So why was this Moroccan desert experience so incredible? How does one put together a Morocco desert tour? Why did I choose to go to the less popular, Erg Chigaga? Let’s slide into this so you can get the most out of your trip.

For more visuals, here’s Garrett’s video:


Taking a Morocco Desert Tour—Why Erg Chigaga?

Lets me first preface by saying I have not been to Merzouga, which holds the sand dunes of Erg Chebbi. They look wonderful, they are said to be stunning, and I’m sure a trip there would be one that you’d cherish forever.

However, with all my research (and trust me, I did a lot of it), speaking to people whom have done both, and chatting with my new friend Brahim, comparing the two—I can confidently say Mhamid and the Erg Chigaga sand dunes may have the upper hand when it comes to a Morocco desert tour for several reasons…

Camel ride on a Morocco desert tour.
No Morocco desert tour is complete without adorable camels.

1. They Keep it Small

The Morocco desert tours around Mhamid that venture out into the dunes of Erg Chigaga bring small groups. My tour didn’t feel like a tour at all, and it was only Garrett and me most of the time. Our camel ride, sandboarding, drive out to the desert, and even our first few hours at the camp were just us!

Use this camp if you want to go on a Morocco desert tour.
A small desert campsite means more alone time to frolic as you please—and I enjoy frolicking… 🙂

At night, a few other people came to the camp after their activities, and we all had dinner and a fire jam sesh together. It was a perfect balance of being on our own while still making some friends.

Erg Chigaga sand dunes are not too popular yet either. The camps here are fewer, and some have even put limits. The camp we stayed at only allows 12 people unless you’ve booked it out entirely with your own group. This helps keep everyone happy while keeping the experience intimate.

2. Wilder Dunes

Erg Chebbi has some crazy cool looking dunes, and they are quite massive as well!

Erg Chigaga has some the same, although not as tall; however, they are much wilder. The desert around Erg Chigaga is far less explored, it takes more time to get to from Mhamid (over 60km and around two hours), and as mentioned, have far fewer people around making you feel like you’re on your own planet!

When visiting Mhamid, you need to take a Sahara Desert Morocco tour.
A tiny Garrett in the Sahara Desert of Morocco—which mine as well be Mars.

And trust me, when you look around, you don’t feel like you’re on Earth.

3. Because of Brahim and His Camp

This desert experience was also pretty much the best thing ever because of our new friend Brahim, his friends, and his camp. I stumbled upon his profile and saw he also did desert tours. Long story short, I made the right decision booking with him.

His camp is quaint and small, has everything you need, staff with smiles plastered on their faces, and the campsite itself is beautiful and comfortable. Our tent was better than some hotels I’ve stayed in!

(Let’s go ahead and put this disclosure here right now—this is NOT sponsored)

4. Even Just Staying Outside M’Hamid Is Cool AF

We booked one night at Brahim’s homestay in M’hamid and another with him at his camp in the desert.

This is unlike any other Airbnb you’ve seen. When you open your door, you’re already right in front of the sand dunes! If you’re very low on time or money, you could simply stay at his M’Hamid home and still get a mini desert experience climbing dunes and getting lost (but hopefully not too lost) just outside his property!

About to go camping in the Sahara desert!
Wearing a traditional melhafa outside of my Airbnb on some sand dunes! (Literally, this is what you see when you open your door)

Like his campsite, his Airbnb is very quaint and close-knit as well. With only three “mud huts” sharing the spectacular sand dune views, you are already getting a very cool experience before you even embark on your Morocco desert tour.

5. It’s More Authentic and Challenging

With our badass accommodation, the coolest desert tour in Morocco that I found, and the fact that this area was still wild and significantly less touched by tourism than its sister desert location—I felt this was the most authentic way to get out in the desert of Morocco.

Nothing felt cookie-cutter, there were no big tours buses or massive groups. The dunes and the camp were hours away from civilization, and the location itself was native and untainted, which likely can’t all be said about the experience one would have in Merzouga (as I’ve read).

Mhamid morocco sahara desert tours are amazing!
Sand dunes for miles and miles!

The dunes here require more. 4×4 only, more time and effort, and more desert knowledge from the locals. The “survival” factor is a lot more prominent out on these dunes.

At the End of the Day, There Isn’t a “Best” Morocco Desert Tour

While I really think it was the best Morocco desert tour, I’ve only read and heard about Merzouga and its dunes. At the end of the day, it comes down to your preference.

Morocco desert trips are definitely worth it.
I’m not sure if my life can get any more magical…

Erg Chigaga takes more effort, and Erg Chebbi is much more accessible. With that comes many more tourists as well, though. So it’s all up to you, but I can’t recommend Erg Chigaga’s dunes enough, and it was the highlight of our Morocco road trip.

One thing is for sure: The sand dunes in Morocco are stunning, and you NEED a desert camping experience in your life.

So How Does One Organize a Moroccan Desert Tour?

Well, the best part is, you kind of don’t. To get even close to the sand dunes of Erg Chigaga, you need a 4×4 and some really good GPS directions, as well as knowledge of navigating rough and sandy terrain. So, in other words, you’re going to want to pay someone to take you on your Sahara desert tour and deal with that.

If you want to know exactly how I did this trip so you can do the same, here’s what you do…

Morocco Desert Tour to Erg Chigaga: Camping in the Sahara Desert
I’m so a desert nomad, guys.

We rented a car, which is honestly, the absolute best way to see the country. I wouldn’t recommend anything else! We drove to Mhamid and already had our stay with Brahim booked.

He will meet you in Mhamid, and then you’ll follow him back to his place. There’s no finding this place yourself, he’s already a bit into the desert, but no worries, it’s still OK for regular vehicles to drive.

We stayed one night at the hut, and then he took care of us the rest of the way.

A man on the sanddunes on our Morocco desert tour.
A Berbere guide on the dunes at sunset.

What’s This Morocco Desert Tour Like?

Pretty epic if you haven’t gathered that yet.

You start your day by making the bumpy, yet entertaining ride through the desert and to the dunes in a 4×4.

Try spotting a mirage (we did!), take 4859207 photos of the herds of camels, pass by an oasis, and spot real desert nomads, ya know, just regular desert stuff.

When you make it to the camp, which is beautiful, you’ll have some time to chill, wander, and take in the ever-changing colors of the dunes that surround you in every direction.

You Sahara desert camp tour hopefully include sandboarding, it's fun!
Sandboarding… or riding an imaginary bike.

Try your hand at sandboarding, just chill, or explore around and take photos.

Later, when the sun is a bit less intense, you’ll put your ass to the test and ride a camel—what’s a Morocco desert tour without a camel, right? (PS-They are well cared for!) Slowly and steadily, you’ll make your way to the base of Erg Chigaga so you can climb it for sunset. Don’t underestimate the trek up to the dune. You sink and slide a lot, so it takes a bit of time to reach the top!

After a hard day of desert life, you’ll relax to the tunes of the local Berbere men while the campfire dances.

This are the sunrise colors of the sahara desert Morocco
Morocco desert tour = incredible sunrises. Look at the colors!

After a good night’s sleep, you can choose to catch the sunrise, which I would highly recommend. The sun paints the dunes all sorts of colors ranging from a misty pink to yellow to hot orange. It’s certainly worth the early wake-up call not only for the sunrise, but to get your last few glimpses of the gorgeous dunes before heading off.

If I were to do this trip all over again, I’d stay for two nights! It’s my only regret.

What About The Food?

The food was SO GOOD.

Since Brahim’s homestay is a bit out of town, he is super smart and includes meals. We arrived, he fed us dinner, then fed us breakfast before heading out into the desert the next day. Being in the desert I didn’t have high hopes for yummy meals (especially being a vegetarian) but I was wrong. 

It was some of the best food we had the entire time. Obviously, you’ll get tons of tea, tagines for dinner, and breakfast after enjoying the sunrise.

Morocco Desert Tour Tips and Things to Keep in Mind

  • Bring sunnies and a scarf. Besides sun protection, you need WIND protection!
  • Bring layers just in case. While the desert at this time of year (April) doesn’t get super cold, it gets chilly, and you will want a sweater.
  • A shower was available, but it’s cold, and they have a limited water supply. Wash your face off and then use biodegradable wipes if you want an alternative. Some camps don’t have showers at all. (or just be dirty like me and do nothing until the next day)
The sanddunes go on for days and days in the desert in Morocco!
Garrett on the dunes at sunrise.
  • Flip flops. You don’t need any other shoes for this trip unless you go when it’s freezing.
  • Leggings or some pants are recommended for the camel ride. I lived in my leggings the entire time, as it was the perfect thing to wear.
  • Sunscreen! Don’t forget it!
  • While this camp had electricity via solar panels, it would be smart to charge everything before you go just in case. I also always carry my solar-powered external battery, which is one of my favorite items!
  • A flashlight could help. Of course, if your iPhone is juiced enough or you have my badass solar external battery charger, which has one, you’re all set on that.
  • Hand sanitizer! Bring it everywhere in Morocco.
  • If you use camera gear like we do, just know—sand everywhere—will happen. Bring an air blower, multiple lens cloths, and maybe even your crappier lens just in case. My lens still has a small crunch on manual focus, and Garrett messed up his lens shutters on his G7X! Not cool, but the pictures were totally worth it.
  • Don’t forget a tripod and intervalometer if you’re going to try some night photography.
A night shot of our Morocco desert tour campsite.
Moroccan desert campsite night shot by Garrett.
  • Your tour will be a bit cheaper and shorter in summer as it’s low season for Morocco desert tours at that time for obvious reasons. It’s hot AF, and it’s not possible to spend all day frolicking around the dunes as we did, so I’d advise you to go around April or a bit earlier like we did as this is towards the middle/end of high season.

Pro Tip for Your Desert Tour in Morocco

Book ahead! First, it’s one less thing to worry about when you get here, but second, the desert tour people can be a little intense in town.

When we arrived, at night (oops), we were meeting Brahim. We had three people trying to bring us into their shop FROM OUR CAR (not even walking around), and one person wouldn’t leave us alone when we were parked outside a store waiting for Brahim. We ignored him, but he kept trying to get our attention and knocking on our window.

You don’t want to be pressured into a tour, but if you don’t book ahead, know you’re going to have vultures swooping down on you.

Erg Chigaga sunrise colors on my sahara desert campsite.
Our campsite in Morocco’s Sahara Desert.

If you want to book this same Airbnb and this tour, just talk to Brahim. You can contact him through Airbnb here.

When you book Brahim’s homestay, simply tell him you’re interested in his tour. You’ll pay for the tour once you meet him. PLEASE! Tell Brahim, Nina says hello when you book! (And please come back to this post and make a comment about your tour!)

Again, I just honestly had a great time; this was not sponsored.

Are you up for taking this Morocco desert tour? Let me know what you think in the comments!

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  1. Hi Nina,
    It is not easy to decide which of the desert region Erg Chegaga or Erg Chebbi is better. They both equally beautiful and each has its own pros and cons depending on the traveler’s needs. Erg Chigaga is just splendid in its wilderness , diversion – you do get the feeling of the ending world and nothing further beyond.
    Erg Chebbi are taller and absolutely more awe inspiring seeing these tall mountains of sand raising out of nowhere. They are easier to reach so great for families with kids or elderly.

  2. Hi Nina

    Zenosh from Mumbai, India. I would like to thank you for this wonderful post which i stumbled upon by chance while planning my Morocco trip with my wife and 11 year old son.

    Staying at Brahims place became the cornerstone of planning this trip and the related transportation. In order to save time we took flight to Zagora from Casablanca and back.

    Spent 1 day at the MHamid Home stay , next at the erg Chigaga camp and another day at Homestay.

    It was all so worth it. Even my wife who is not too much into travelling enjoyed the Sahara experience which Brahims homestay provided, and my son just went wild in the dunes, rolling down , sand boarding etc even when there was a sandstorm 🙂

    Thank you once again.

  3. Everything was through Brahim! He is the one who owns the Airbnb and then also takes his guests, should they want, on the desert tour. So it was sooo easy. I booked on Airbnb and then stayed the night, paid the extra cash for the tour the next day before we set off into the desert. He makes it all very easy and he is super chill, you will have a great time!

  4. This looks absolutely amazing and breathtaking! Your host sounds remarkable and lovely. I was wondering, did you book your desert trip before you went or did Brahim help book one for you when you arrived at his air bnb/camp?

  5. Dear Nina,

    how much is the 4X4 tour to the Erg with overnight stay in the camp? We’re a family of 2 adults and 3 children.

    Thanks for your wonderful description!


  6. Thanks, Megan! YES! He owns an Airbnb just outside the town and at the start of the desert where you can stay before embarking on your desert trip the next morning to the bigger dunes! It’s seriously magical! 🙂

  7. WHAT THIS IS AN AIRBNB? WOW, now let me go back to regular caps. But seriously WOW. I want to do this so bad, especially before it gets too popular like what you guys experienced. Holy smokes! I can’t get over this experience. Thanks for introducing me to something I must add to my travel to do list!