Erg Chebbi is one of two Saharan ergs in Morocco – large sea dunes formed by the wind. Other dunes of Erg-Chigag are located near M’hamid. The sea dunes are believed to have been formed as punishment when a wealthy couple turned their back on travelers.
The Erg Chebbi dunes reach heights of up to 150 meters in some places, generally covering an area of 50 kilometers from north to south and up to 5-10 kilometers from east to west at the Algerian border.
Erg Chebbi is one of the most beautiful dunes in the world, with which it is impossible to argue. The nearest significant city is Erfoud, about 60 km to the north.
Another town is Risani, about 40 kilometers from Merzouga. From the 8th to the 14th century, a separate kingdom known as Sijilmasa was thriving on former caravan routes. Although showers are extremely short and rare, floods in 2006 destroyed many buildings and killed three people.
The attractive local center Merzouga is located near the extreme point of the dunes. A number of companies offer camel excursions from Merzouga to the desert, as well as taking tourists on night trips to Erg Chebbi.
Tourists stop for the night in a tent city a few kilometers from the nearest settlement, completely immersing themselves in a unique ecosystem. The proximity of Erg Chebbi to the tourist center has led to what Erg Chebbi is sometimes called “the dunes of Merzouga”. Merzouga is also considered one of the most beautiful cities in Morocco to visit when traveling.
In the warmest part of the year, Moroccans come to Erg Chebbi to bury themselves in the sand for a few minutes. It is considered an effective treatment for rheumatism. Locals call these dunes a large windy “sandy sea”.
Legends say that the dune appeared when a wealthy couple turned their backs on a weary traveler and were punished by thousands of tons of sand falling on their home. Fortunately, God made the right choice! The colossal volumes of sand at Erg Chebbi change daily with the wind, forming spectacular dunes over the rocky desert.