DESERT GUIDE


Mohamed was born near Taos. As a child, Mohamed was given the responsibility of looking after his father's sheeps and camels. When he was seven years old he entered the school in Merzouga and stayed there till the end of high school. The last few years of studying was spent in Risani where Mohamed got the urge to return to the great silence and calm in desert because he could not forget that style of living.

Taos is a small village about 30km away from Merzouga. Most of the houses were built for soldiers whose duties were to guard the Algerian border. In the beginning there was no water source in the village and the inhabitants got their water supply from the neighboring towns which got delivered by trucks.


Merzouga, where Mohamed lives today is a little village just north or Rissani on the road towards Taos. It is right next to the dunes of Erg Chebbi. In the other direction you have a huge plain of stone desert. The oasis of Merzouga is similar to other oasis but with a unique feeling because of its closeness to the great dunes. The village itself consists of mostly mud houses that blend in quite well with the landscape. These Kasbahs were not part of the landscape in the past few year. In the past, most Erg Chebbi's inhabitants where nomads who lived in tents and traveled across the Sahara Desert in caravans to trade.
In recent year however, since borders have been drawn between countries which share the Sahara, it is no longer possible to cross into Algeria, Mauretania, Malil or Sudan so trading has ceased.

The change in climate also effected the lifestyles of the nomads. As it got more and more dry, the rivers and lakes dried up and left carvings in the landscape. The grass soon disappeared leaving a barren land unsuitable for grazing animals. In Merzouga, water conditions were good and this offered the nomads a new life. Date palms were planted and a small agriculture developed in the oasis. In the seventies, tourists slowly began to pour in to Merzouga and now it's a well known place on the Moroccan tourist-map. Many things have been modernized in the last few years to facilitate tourism including the asphalting of roads from Rissani to Merzouga.