In the periphery of Erg Chebbi Dunes aka Merzouga Dunes, there are 3 Berber villages:
Merzouga, Hassilabied and Khamlia.
This villages are typically Saharan villages where the tradition of the “Blue Men” of the Sahara Desert still persists.
All these villages have typical adobe architecture and look amazing blending it selves with the color of the desert.
Villages of Merzouga, Hassilabied and Khamliya
Located opposite the big dune of Erg Chebbi where a green oasis contrast with the orange color of the sand.
This is the biggest and most developed village in the region.
Merzouga is the village that gives the unofficial name to Erg Chebbi Dunes, as many people find Erg Chebbi somehow more difficult to memorize, Merzouga from the beginning of the first tourist arrivals to the region gave the name to the dunes.
Merzouga saw a huge development in the last decade and now provide all basic amenities to its populations.
Known as the “village of the black men” is an interesting place because all its population have dark skin, being themselves, descendants of the peoples from sub-Saharan Africa in Mali or Guinea that stayed in the region after the camel caravan routes between North and Sub-Sahara Africa ended.
Every year there is a festivals where people from all the region travel to Khamliya and enjoy with local folklore and unique Gnawa music and dance, somewhat reminiscent of the Gnawa tradition of southwestern Morocco.
Located just 4km from Merzouga, it currently serves of residential place for local nomadic peoples who over time have settled along the oasis.
The name means “the white well” as tell the story that some nomads once got to this place and found a empty well, with its inner walls white due to the salt water.
Nowadays the oasis has great drinkable water and its oasis full of palm trees is something worth a visit.