M’Hamid Desert or Merzouga Desert?
Erg Chebbi or Erg Chegaga?
These are the questions every tourist looking for a desert experience in Morocco asks.
For the non-romantics and those who have no devotion to authentic natural spaces, the desert is just a salty dry piece of land and no more than clay pans surrounded by big dunes.
But for us and the rest of nomads, it’s a natural mysterious wonder that defies description of uniqueness: one of those corners of our magical planet that look too dream-like for anyone to believe they actually exist.
In fact, M’hamid is one of those Moroccan desert corners that hundreds of people visit every year. But for people who don’t know it and are interested to learn more about its most beautiful places and the characteristics of each place, this humble piece of writing will help you understand why you should trek in M’hamid and the secrets behind this fact.
Before I start talking about why you should trek in M’Hamid and not any other desert in Morocco, I want to explain that this blog doesn’t actually aim to assume that this desert is more beautiful than another. I personally believe, and many people will share this belief with me, that each desert on God’s earth is equal by virtue of the beauty of its calm tranquillity.
As a nomad I don’t want to create a confusion among tourists by promoting falsified facts about M’hamid trekking, but more, I want to talk about the beauty of the Sahara Desert where l live and where our unlimited Sahara trekking tours start.
M’hamid desert is considered to be a very authentic destination for trekkers from all around the globe. Many people have heard only of Erg Chegaga but, in fact, it is a vast piece of endless Saharan landscape where a trekker can tour for days, weeks and even months into different geographical locations. Mountains, huge remote sand dunes, lush valleys where nomads herd their animals. Secret regions that are untouched by tourism camps. Places where you will feel truly you are in a desert because you will be the only one walking with your camel caravan and also because you are highly expected to see nomads and camels which will tell you much about the desert.
Throughout M’hamid trekking, you will discover the originality of the Sahara landscapes embodied by the fact that each place we trek to will look absolutely different from the last. Our Sahara hiking treks are programmed to include a variety of landscapes so that you will feel everyday is a new desert planet.
Historical glimpse of M’hamid
Historically the M’Hamid Sahara was a vitally important destination for Morocco and the great Sahara trade routes. When talking about desert trade, it is important to mention these ancient caravan routes which connected Timbuktu and Marrakech desert trade. The routes were connected to Algeria’s Touat and Béchar from the east and from there, the caravans could enter the great Sahara and reach its far market of Timbuktu, the beating heart of the Tuareg nation and the origin of their commerce.
M’hamid Oasis and desert at large has witnessed an epic history due to the huge number of tribes which inhabited it. The tribes domination created dynamic change in the nomadic population over the years. There have been many different nomadic communities throughout the history of M’hamid and the traces of these communities still exist in terms of the old fallen settlements that can be found at different locations.
Why Trekking in M’hamid with Walking with Nomads is a Unique Experience
While Walking with Nomads, you will get to understand the cultural and social background of desert tribes and their system of living and their special way of surviving from the eyes of nomads and specifically from my perception, that I learned from my Ancestors.
Our Walking with Nomads team will take you to the most beautiful places you can ever see in the Sahara Desert and show you old caravan towns starting from M’hamid old settlement toward dilapidated nomadic kasbahs and fallen nomadic markets that were once the meeting place of trading nomads.
We generally stay away from other tourists and away from the routes other trekking companies take as we don’t believe that trekkers who come here are wanting to share their experience with too many other people.
We are storytellers and it is through our stories that you will leave the desert with a deep knowledge of this magical place and its people.
M’hamid: the home of some of the last nomads in Morocco’s desert:
M’hamid Sahara represents one of the final refuge areas where nomads are still living their life but with less movement. The main challenges have been the limitation of nomads migration due to the border and the separation of the Sahara Desert into pieces of countries. Their culture is dynamic not fixed and so modernity has created change in its own right as they adapt to today’s world.
M’hamid desert is an eclectic mix of desertification, sand-dunes, flat desert plains, oases in the middle of nowhere, awe inspiring rock formations, hills, mountain passes at Foum Zguid and lush valleys under Bani Mountain and next to Draa Valley.
Today it is relatively easy to reach M’Hamid. There are domestic flights from both Casablanca and Marrakech Airports several times a week to the local airport at Zagora and from there we will collect you for the short drive to M’hamid. Follow this link to learn about all the options and which one is right for you – How to get to M’hamid?