If you want to learn to drive in the sand then Erg Chebbi in southern Morocco is the place to do it. Erg Chebbi is a sand dune field of the northern Sahara and a tarmac road runs alongside it until it stops a few mile short of the Algerian border. Driving in sand really surprised me. I thought it would be like driving in snow, where high gear and low revs is the best policy. Driving in sand is the exact opposite and to keep the wheels turning you need to keep your foot hard down on the accelerator. Even the short time it takes to change gear can stop the vehicle dead. Luckily our Landrover Defender loves the sand and made the experience of driving around Erg Chebbi amongst the 150 mt (450 ft) high dunes great fun.
Photos of Erg Chebbi Sahara Sand Dunes, Morocco
An erg is a broad, flat area of desert covered with wind-swept sand with little or no vegetation which contains more than 125 square km (48 sq. miles) of aeolian or wind-blown sand. Erg Chebbi is one of the two Saharan Ergs that can be found in Morocco. Located on the southern border with Algeria, Erg Chebbi has wind blown sand dunes that reach a heigh of 150m ( 450 ft) spreading across an area 22 km (18 miles) from north to south and 5-10 km (7 miles) wide. On its western edge of Erg Chebbi where its sand dunes start covering a large flat stony desert plain, the desert village of Merzouga with camp sites and hotels that allowing tourists to experience the magical landscape of the high Saharan sand dunes. Other villages are dotted along the edge of the shifting sands fed by water from under the sand dunes.
Ancient Berber and Arab underground tunnels tap the water that lies 4-5 meters (10 – 15ft) below the sand dunes and the water is piped to ancient Ksars, fortified villages, where Saharan camel trains would stop and rest during their journey north. It is hard to image that water can be found just below the sand dunes and even stranger to image that it is possible to die of thirst so close to underground water you that cannot be reached without great excavations. The sand dunes of Erg Chebbi are a magical place with the dunes being constantly remodeled by streams of sand that form high Crescent-shaped mounds that interlock to form a classic Saharan landscape. When the wind is high great plumes of sand spill off the sharp edges of the dunes summits in long plumes. Walking amongst the dunes or taking a camel ride through them is one of the many great experiences Morocco has to offer. Photos of Erg Chebbi can be downloaded on line and pictures and images of Erg Chebbi are available as photo art prints.
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