Merzouga is a small village in southeastern Morocco, about 35 km (22 mi) southeast of Rissani, about 55 km (34 mi) from Erfoud, and about 50 km (31 mi) from the Algerian border.

Location in Morocco
Coordinates: 31°5′57″N 4°0′42″W
Country Morocco
Time zoneUTC+0 (WET)
  Summer (DST)UTC+1 (WEST)

The village is known for its proximity to Erg Chebbi, and it is for this reason a part of the itineraries of many tourists visiting Morocco.[1] It has been described as "a desert theme park", and the Erg Chebbi as "a wonderland of sand".[2] Merzouga has the largest natural underground body of water in Morocco.

A typical street in the older part of Merzouga

In 2006, Merzouga experienced devastating flash floods, displacing 1,200 and resulting in some deaths.

Near the dunes of Erg Chebbi there are some other known villages: Hassilabied 4 km (2.5 mi) away, Tanamoust 3 km (1.9 mi) away, Takoujt 1.5 km (0.93 mi) away, Khamlia 7 km (4.3 mi) away and Tisserdmine 15 km (9.3 mi) away.


Tradition asserts that Merzouga once flourished as a tropical jungle until it was turned into a desert environment when God punished families who refused offerings to a poor woman and buried them in the sand dunes of Erg Chebbi.

In the past, like a number of regions and cities, Merzouga was uninhabited and later became a transit point for merchants heading for Timbuktu. It later became a pilgrimage to the nomads of the Ait Atta tribes and those who settled and worked to invest their money until it became a tourist destination to the current day.

Many ancient fortified villages have existed in Merzouga for centuries. During French colonial rule, it was built by troops of the French Foreign Legion after the battles of Tafialet, which occurred between 1916 and 1932.


  1. Rough Guides (2016). The Rough Guide to Morocco. Penguin. p. 655. ISBN 9780241276532. Retrieved 14 May 2019.
  2. Minca, Claudio; Wagner, Lauren (2016). "Chapter 7: Sahara". Moroccan Dreams: Oriental Myth, Colonial Legacy. Bloomsbury. ISBN 9781786730176. Retrieved 14 May 2019.
  • Media related to Merzouga at Wikimedia Commons
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