- Encounters with locals
- Place or Religious Monument
- Off the beaten track
On my way to Mhamid and the Chegaga Dunes during my trip to Morocco I had a very pleasant stopover in Zagora. It is the last big town before entering the desert.
If you have any last-minute shopping to do, this is where to do it. Just a word about this. Like elsewhere in the country, many counterfeit goods are on offer in Zagora market. One salesman even told me "If you don't have a fake Rolex by the time you are 50 you have failed as a traveller". Be careful! Of course buying such items is strictly forbidden and the customs officers keep watch. However, I do recommend you go overboard with the steam baths. In Zagora they are traditional and authentic; the cleansing with black soap and a loofer is abrasive and energetic (as witnessed by the yelps!)
During my first visit to the desert as part of my trip to Morocco, it was like being in a film: the suffocating desert heat, the jeep on a seemingly never-ending road kicking up dust, the turbaned driver...I was certainly in for an adventure!
However, bivouacking in the desert did leave me a bit disappointed. First of all, I paid over the odds for it, going by what I've heard from other tourists. As mentioned in my other articles on Morocco, you need to be very vigilant at the moment while buying anything in the country: some of these people are professional swindlers! And to add to that, the experience wasn't at all like I'd imagined it. Weirdly, the desert wasn't as desert-like as I'd have liked!
A little later on in my trip to Morocco, I visited Merzouga. This time, I can tell you that the dunes were sensational. If you're hesitating between the two destinations for your trip to the desert, I'd recommend Merzouga without hesitation. But that's not to say you'll find Zagora a let-down – in both cases, the views are incredible; it's just that Zagora doesn't come as close to your expectations of a trip into the Sahara.