Exploring the wilder, more passionate sibling of Erg Chebbi feels like discovering a secret sun-kissed planet from another galaxy.
Farther out from nearby civilization than Morocco’s other Saharan erg, this windswept sand sea is a shock to the senses and a refreshing escape from the ever-present tourism in the world’s largest hot desert.
The sand dunes that make up Erg Chigaga are dramatic and steep. Days are long and hot in these isolated dunes, making them perfect for exploring.
You can sit among the dunes to watch the sun prepare for the day as it rises from a seemingly endless ocean of sand. Later, climb up to watch that same sun tuck in for the night, dipping below an awe-inspiring horizon filled with shades of orange, pink, and yellow.
Tourism is scanty here, so Erg Chigaga feels isolated and savage, with few wanderers crossing paths and small campsites to settle into for the night. An unearthly quality lends itself to the entire region, leaving adventurers feeling as if they’re exploring Saturn or another bracingly beautiful sun-kissed planet from another galaxy.
Nights can be frigid, even after long hot days, and grains of sand can pick up and collect into whirlwinds with rapid speed, causing visitors to clutch their headscarves around their faces.
Know Before You Go
You must have a 4x4 vehicle to roam these sand dunes. Be aware that the weather can turn at any given time. From the oasis town of M'Hamid El Ghizlane, it's about 30 miles to the actual dunes so it may be best to join a tour or hire a guide, as the desert is no place to just wing it.
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