Morocco : Erfoud
The majority of southern Morocco is the Western Sahara, this area of desert is relatively unexplored and a self-drive holiday with a four-wheel drive vehicle is necessary if you wish to visit this area properly. However in northern and central Morocco you can visit the desert from either Zagora or Erfoud where accommodation can be arranged in Berber tents, guests houses or hotels and you can visit the dunes from the back of a camel or horse or explore on foot.
Erfoud is only 50 kilometres north of Merzouga and the nearby Erg Chebbi, the only genuine Saharan dunes in Morocco, this area is a great expanse of ever-changing landscape, with dunes as high as 650 feet. Sunrise and sunset tours can be arranged from Erfoud itself, as can camel treks or you can spend the night out at the base of the dunes in a Berber tent and watch the fascinating changes colours of the sand. Often seasonal lakes appear which attract flocks of flamingos and other water birds, there is also a healthy resident population of desert bird species that can be see at dawn and dusk. Rissani is only a short drive and definitely worth a visit, a small town rich in history and there is a busy souk and camel market three times a week.
However you get to Erfoud, you will be amazed by the surrounding scenery. Arriving from the north, you will pass through the Ziz Valley, one of the most spectacular passes in Morocco; dramatic canyons where the floor is littered with well irrigated villages and swaying palmeries.
Arriving from the southwest, you will either pass through endless desert or along the base of the High Atlas Mountains passing the Dades and Todra Gorges.
Kasbah Tizimi is built in the style of a traditional kasbah and tastefully decorated. This small and personalised hotel is situated on the outskirts of Erfoud on the Tinehir road. It is the perfect location to relax by the pool or in one of the courtyards or to use as a base for exploring Rissani and the dunes at Merzouga.
The hotel was built in 1995 and has incorporated many of Morocco finest colours and traditional features into the hotel. All the rooms are en-suite with either a bath or a shower, the rooms are colourful and comfortable, each with their own colour scheme and theme. The hotel consists of three courtyards joined together with rooms leading off two of them and the other one houses a swimming pool and sun terrace. A trickling fountain is the charming centrepiece of the interior courtyard, and the attractive traditional Moroccan tearoom and dining room opens onto the patio garden.
Hotel Riad Salam is located to the south of Erfoud on the Rissani road, although on the outskirts of town you are still within walking distance to the markets and some of the town's restaurants. The hotel has over a hundred rooms and sixteen suites overlooking one of the two courtyards. The majority of the first courtyard is taken up with the swimming pool and a sun filled terrace. The second has a small fountain and everywhere you look there is a beautiful collection of flowers and the constant chatter of birds. All the rooms are air conditioned with en-suite bathrooms and have satellite television, mini bar. There are two restaurants one serving Moroccan style dishes and the other has a more international theme, often evening meals work on a buffet system.