M’Hamid, “city of gazelles”
M’Hamid is located near Morocco’s south eastern border at the edge of the desert. It is the last oasis of the Draa Valley before the immense arid axpanses of the Hamada take over. This town is perfectly located to welcome you for the night as you explore the Sahara or the road of a thousand kasbahs during the day!
Before slowly falling into its current tranquil state, M’Hamid was once a grand caravan city. Its settlement dates back to the copper and iron ages, a time when the Sahara was not yet complete desert. When staying in M’Hamid you’ll discover a region rich in colour full of warm locals eager to help you understand their land and culture.
At the limits of M’Hamid, the paved road gives way to a carpet of sand lined with palm trees that will lead you to the central square. This is where you’ll find the mosque and most of the town’s shops. After a tranquil stroll through, visit the ruins of the ksar next, a broken witness of M’Hamid’s glorious past. Built in the 14th century, it was used to direct the caravans leaving for Timbuktu.
Excursions and bivouacs in the desert
On a day trip to the Sahara, you will live some truly unforgettable moments. You could even go for several days and live like the nomadic Sahraouis; these blue men of the desert will be your guides amidst the dunes and will unveil the secrets of their culture and traditions if you lend them your ears.
From M’Hamid, head for an adventure in the Chigaga erg! Absolutely splendid, these dunes can only be reached by 4WD after 45 minutes of trekking. Far from civilization, this is a great place to set up a bivouac. Not far away, you can also go to the Lehoudi erg. Much bigger, you don’t need four wheel drive to get here!
On the other side of the Chigaga erg, east of M’Hamid, you’ll discover the ancient Iriki lake near Foum Zguid. This beautiful excursion across the desert will lead you to an immense dried up depression in the ground, relic from an era when the region was still lush and green. An ideal destination for desert trekking, we recommend that you stop for a meal at an inn or a campsite at the foot of the dunes.
Finally, walk around the Draa Valley north of M’Hamid. After 6 km of road, you’ll reach the Ouled Driss oases. Take the time to go for a stroll under the shade of the date palm in the middle of the cereal fields. When you get back on the road to Agdz, you’ll drive by many palmeraies in the middle of which the fabulous Draa kasbahs stick out their heads.
The closest international airport is that of Ouarzazate (170km). As in every other city in Morocco, you can get to M’Hamid by taxi or bus. Meanwhile, once here, you’ll have so many more activities available to you if you have rented a car. From Ouarzazate, it is a five hour drive.