Greats Deserts

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30.09.2007.

Erg Chebbi

The dunes of Erg Chebbi is a strikingly strange natural formation. On the top of the flattest area you could imagine, suddenly a long mountain of sand rises. This mountain is surrounded by flat and desolate nature on all sides, and you could end up wondering if it really is real. But so it is, even if its existence is so weird that it has given rise to lengeds and myths among the locals.
One legend tells us that the dunes of Erg Chebbi were created by God as a punishment to the locals of nearby Merzouga after they refused to give shelter to a woman and her child during a local festival. A sandstorm came, and buried the village of Merzouga is it was then.
In order to get out to Erg Chebbi, you will have to pass through one of the flattest areas you could imagine. For several kilometres there is nothing but small, black stones spread on the ground evenly.
When the sun shines, a strong reflection comes from the stones further away, so that you won't really believe your eyes when you suddenly see a camel or a man.
Even in such a remote area, where the sun always shines, there are people out to sell souvenirs. Of obvious reasons, what they sell has not been carried from a long distance, and you stand a fair chance of buying OK fossils at an OK price.
There are several stories told about these dunes. One is that they are the largest in the world, but that could very well prove not to be true. But they are the largest in Morocco!
Another one is that they can be good for patients with rheumatics — they bury themselves in the sand and stay that all the day. That is not unlikely.
Another one is that the dunes are often used in films and commercials. And that is definitely true!

HOTELS AND ALTERNATIVES
There are surprisingly — or perhaps not considering how many visitors come out here — a fair selection of auberges (simple hotels) near the Erg Chebbi. They are all simple, and involves sleeping on the floor. And considering what you would pay for the same elsewhere in Morocco, they are overpriced. But you will probably not stay for more than one night after all...

RESTAURANTS AND ALTERNATIVES
You can eat in the auberges as well as a number of other cafes around. Prices are high, quality dull, but what would you expect out here, anyway?

CHANGE MONEY
Do this in Erfoud, 50 km north.

TRANSPORT
There is a bus going down to Merzouga, which is about 3 km from Erg Chebbi. Otherwise, arrange for your own transport. If you have a vehicle, rent a guide in Rissani or Erfoud. He will make sure that you choose the right out of several tracks out here — it is not difficult to get lost! But there is no reason to let him the steering wheel, as the driving is easy.

IMPORTANT
This is not a place to get stranded without a hat, sun glasses and a big bottle of water.



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