advertisement

Getting There

Er Rachidia and Erfoud are the transport hubs of the Ziz. Er Rachidia holds no interest for travelers, and most bypass the city or catch connecting transport straight away. Heading for the dunes from the west, it's better to catch transport direct to Erfoud. If you're heading north after the dunes, you'll have to travel through Er Rachidia anyway.

By Bus -- Er Rachidia is well served by the country's bus network, and buses arrive at least once a day from Casablanca (11 hr.; 185dh), Erfoud (1 1/2 hr.; 25dh), Fes (9 hr.; 120dh), Marrakech (10 hr.; 150dh-170dh), Meknes (8 1/2 hr.; 115dh), Midelt (3 hr.; 50dh-70dh), Ouarzazate (6 hr.; 85dh), Tinerhir (3 hr.; 55dh-70dh), and Zagora (10 hr.; 125dh). All buses, including CTM (tel. 0535/572024), operate out of the central gare routière at the southwest entrance to the city.

Buses to Erfoud operate daily from Er Rachidia (1 1/2 hr.; 25dh), Fes (9 1/2 hr.; 135dh), Marrakech (10 hr.; 185dh-210dh), Meknes (10 hr.; 100dh-120dh), Midelt (4 1/2 hr.; 55dh-75dh), Ouarzazate (7 hr.; 110dh), and Tinerhir (4 hr.; 65dh). CTM (tel. 0535/576886 or 0522/541010 central reservations; www.ctm.ma) operates an office on boulevard Mohammed V, between place des F.A.R. and the main Er Rachidia-Merzouga road, avenue Moulay Ismail. All other bus companies come and go from place des F.A.R., about 300m (984 ft.) from avenue Moulay Ismail.

By Grand Taxi -- Grands taxis operate between Er Rachidia and Erfoud (1 hr.; 30dh), Midelt (2 hr.; 50dh), and Tinerhir (3 hr.; 55dh). Grands taxis in Erfoud operate from the bus station at place des F.A.R and run throughout the day to Tinerhir (3 hr.; 55dh).

To reach the village of Merzouga and the auberges nearby, grands taxis depart irregularly throughout the day from place des F.A.R. (35dh). Be firm and clear with regard to your chosen auberge, as some accommodations pay a commission to taxi drivers for clients.

By Car -- Thanks to the tar road from Erfoud to Merzouga and beyond, self-drivers no longer need a guide to reach the dunes. About 10km (6 1/4 miles) west of Rissani toward Merzouga, the various auberges have installed road signs to advise when to turn off the tar onto the sand and stone of the hammada. Follow the signs and stay on the worn tracks, and you'll be fine. An alternative route heads east from the center of Erfoud and arrives at the northern end of Erg Chebbi, but this should only be attempted with a guide and preferably in a 4WD vehicle.

Fast Facts

Most services in Erfoud are found on avenue Moulay Ismail (the main Er Rachidia-Merzouga road) or boulevard Mohammed V, which connects place des F.A.R. with avenue Moulay Ismail.

Branches of BMCE (tel. 0535/530284) and Banque Populaire (tel. 0535/561907), both with ATMs and bureaux de change, are on avenue Moulay Ismail, open Monday to Friday 8:15am to 3:45pm.

Erfoud's post office is on the corner of avenue Moulay Ismail and boulevard Mohammed V, open Monday to Friday 8am to 4:15pm and Saturday 8 to 11:45am.

The town's police station is on the south side of place des F.A.R.

Dr. Fatiha Lemjimer (tel. 0535/576520 or 0661/355684) has a clinic on rue al Moukawama at the southwestern edge of place des F.A.R.

Air-conditioned First Net cybercafe is opposite Superette Chez Adil, on avenue Moulay Ismail, and is open Saturday to Thursday 10am to midnight and Friday 2pm to midnight. It also has Wi-Fi access.

Superette Chez Adil is at the northeast end of avenue Moulay Ismail and sells a wide range of groceries, cold meats, dairy products, toiletries, and photographic supplies including memory cards. It's open daily 8am to 10pm.

Merzouga village (50km/31 miles south of Erfoud) is a dusty conglomeration of houses and shops servicing the local smattering of Erg Chebbi auberges. At the turnoff to the village from the highway is a new post office and bureau de change, open Monday to Friday 8am to 4:15pm and Saturday 8 to 11:45am. Just .8km (1/2 mile) farther is the village square, where you'll find some cafes, grocery stores, and a few shops selling souvenirs and film. There's also Merzouga@Net cybercafe and Trans Sahara Pharmacie (tel. 0535/590689).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.