Erg Chebbi or Erg Chigaga? These are the two main dune fields (that’s what “erg” means) in Morocco, so it’s natural to wonder which of the two to visit if you can’t see both in the same tour. In this article, we try to help you with this difficult choice which, at least, has a positive side: whichever you choose, you’ll love it, as both are spectacular.
Based on the characteristics of the place
Focusing strictly on the characteristics of these dunes, Erg Chigaga’s are larger and, perhaps, purer. Their size, according to some estimates, is about 35 km long and 15 km wide. Therefore, from some panoramic points located here, its formations of fine, golden sand stretch into the distance.
But that doesn’t mean that the dunes of Erg Chebbi are small by any means. Their approximate extension is more than 25 km long and 5 km wide at its widest part, with mounds reaching up to 150 meters in some cases. And it also has natural elevations from which they can be viewed.
Based on the experiences they offer
If what matters most in the choice is the possibility of enjoying truly premium services, Erg Chebbi is slightly ahead. Here, there are camps of authentic luxury Berber tents and in Merzouga and other nearby towns, exclusive kasbah-hotels have emerged. In addition, there is a greater availability of services and activities such as camel rides or quad biking.
In Erg Chigaga, on the other hand, the variety is somewhat less, although this can be a plus for those looking for a total disconnection experience. In any case, one cannot speak of overcrowding in Merzouga and Erg Chebbi, far from it, and the experience will always be peaceful.
According to the route to reach the erg
Whether we’re talking about Erg Chebbi or Erg Chigaga, what’s interesting is not just visiting these destinations, but the journey itself. Therefore, the route to take to reach the goal is another factor to consider when choosing, whether from your starting point or from the reference town.
Although Merzouga is further away from the main tourist centers of Morocco, the dunes of Erg Chebbi (550 km from Marrakech) are more accessible, as they begin almost at the outskirts of this town. On the other hand, the ‘gateway’ to Erg Chigaga is considered to be Zagora, about 350 km from Marrakech, but reaching the dunes requires a long journey on desert tracks of more than 100 km.
As for the routes to reach these reference towns, the journey to Merzouga might be richer in monuments and natural landscapes. Here, after crossing the Atlas, you can encounter places like the Todra Gorges or picturesque towns like Rissani. This stretch is known as ‘the Route of a Thousand Kasbahs’, due to the number of ancient castles that dot the route. To get to Zagora, the great natural attraction is the Draa Valley palm grove, about 150 km long, the largest in all of North Africa.
As you can see, opting for Erg Chebbi or Erg Chigaga is not an easy decision, but both deserts have enough attractions to convince any traveler. As you can see in our Tours section, our routes prioritize Erg Chebbi, but we can tailor to each client, so if you wish to visit Erg Chigaga, do not hesitate to ask us for information.