Erfoud is a verdant oasis amid the barren land of Sahara Desert. Situated in the Drâa-Tafilalet region of eastern Morocco, Erfoud is famous for hosting many blockbuster movies including The Mummy and James Bond’s SPECTRE.
Its proximity to Merzouga desert village in the Erg Chebbi Dunes attracts many tourists from around the world. This is the number one reason to why the town is a home to several hotels and restaurants.
Settled near the Erg Chebbi Dunes, Erfoud is also known as “Gate of Sahara Desert”.
The town is a stop post for tourists voyaging from south to Merzouga, via Fes or Meknes. It’s a great place to get down for a plate of wood-fired Madfouna (Berber calzone) or explore the millennium-old fossils. The place is also a home to many ancient buildings showcasing the architectural legacy of Morocco.
Erfoud hosts an annual festival that not only gravitates people from different Moroccan regions, but also many tourists from different parts of the world. They witness music, dancing, and dates from palm groves of the oasis.
Arriving in Erfoud
You can arrive in the city via road or bus transport. It is closest to Rissani, Merzouga, and Er-Rachidia. The cities connect with Erfoud via N13.
Another national road coming in and out of Erfoud is R702. It connects the city with Jorf, Tinejad, Tinghir and to Ouarzazate. This is the road that will take you further to the Erg Chebbi Dunes of Morocco.
Buses enter the city either from the west or from north. In the west, you will find the buses in Marrakech, Ouarzazate, and Tinghir, while in the north, you will find them in Er-Rachidia, Meknes, and Fes.
Three popular bus services running these routes are:
- Supratours company
- CMT buses
- Private companies
Getting Around the City of Erfoud
Though there are several car rentals where you can rent a car to explore the city, it won’t be necessary. The city is so small that you can just walk around it.
Apart from these, there are four taxis that run 24 hours a day and hitchhiking the donkey carts are quite common in the city.
Though the city is small, it has a lot to offer, including historical sites and cultural attractions. You can spend a couple of days without ever worrying about getting out of new places to discover.
The Royal Palace
In Erfoud, the Royal Palace is located in the Sahara Desert. Although visitors are not allowed inside, you can still take a quick view at its beautiful architecture and ornate gate at the main entrance. A visit post sunset will bring you the picturesque sight of an illuminated palace that is so worth your time.
M’Adid Ancient Ksar
M’Adid is an ancient fortified village and apparently the largest in south Morocco. The ksar consists of four districts, each separated from the other by a wall. In the year 1968, M’Aadid was subject to an improvement plan funded by UN. The most fascinating thing about this ancient village is that it is one still inhabited. High pillars and alleys offer an intriguing escape into the older days of Morocco. However, the original gate is now replaced by a concrete one.
The ksar is surrounded by verdant oases where you can go for a stroll. Inside the oases, you will find many other small fortified villages that are inhabited by people who are still living in the old traditional lifestyle.
Fossils of Sahara Desert
Erfoud is a hub of fossils and hosts many exhibitions and shops where you can even buy one.
The city was once submerged under the sea for over 500-million years. As the water dried away, it left behind billions of fossils which attest to the fauna and flora of that age. You can explore treasure of trilobites and ammonites to take a quick trip down the history.
Erfoud is also renowned for its “fossil quarries” that are found abound in the city. These quarries have variety of specimens that are embedded in marble. A visit to a quarry is a great way of reaching out to the eons-old past of the country.
Do not miss the Berber souk of Erfoud, which is an authentic Moroccan marketplace with an Afghanistan look and ambiance. Lined up with shops and vendors selling household items, spices, popular dates, fresh seasonal produces, and souvenirs, the market has a lot to offer to tourists. The Afghanistan twist distinguishes the market from any other in all of Morocco.
Nestled just 3 km from the oasis, on the other side of the river Ziz, is the Borj-Est hill flanking the city. A hike to the top of this hill will bring you panoramic view of the city and its oases. The best time to visit the hill is during sunrise and sunset, when the sky is colorful, and climate is cooler than the rest of the day. On the farther end, you will see the dunes of Erg Chebbi changing colors under the light of the sun. Spread wide from the east to the south is the dry landscape of the hamada, while the palm groves of Tafilalet lie from south-west to the north.
Located on the route to Rissani, just before the petrol pump near Hotel el Ati is the Jewish cemetery of Erfoud. The cemetery is reminiscent to the eighth century, when Erfoud was inhabited by Jewish population. During the twentieth century, the Jews life flourished and they began working in the city as merchants and artisans.
Visiting this ancient cemetery is an experience like no other. There are rows of graves in the front and to the right. The cemetery is walled on all sides and is one of the most well-preserved sight of the city. Many graves have stones on them, which is a tradition Jewish mark of visitation.
Erfoud a small city known for its proximity from Erg Chebbi Dunes and abundance of fossils. The city also has a lot of historic and cultural sites that you can explore. Breezy oases, river Ziz, and Borj-Est fills in for the nature lover in you. To sum it up, Erfoud is a complete package for a tourist.