The Sahara is the world's largest desert. Only a small part of the Sahara is fertile and it is here that corn, dates and other fruits grow. These parts are fed by underground rivers and oases. The Sahara can be an inspirational experience at night, with the air being crisp, clean and clear and the stars being so close you can almost touch them. The desert also has a deafening silence at night. The Sahara desert stretches across much of North Africa covering over 9 000 000 square kilometers (roughly the size of the United States). In fact, the Sahara covers some 30% of the entire African continent. It is the hottest place in the world with summer temperatures that often exceeds 57 degrees Celsius. It has an annual rainfall of 0 - 25 millimeters and is very windy with windstorms sweeping the sand up to heights of 1000 meters and moving the sand dunes constantly.
The Sahara consists of one quarter volcanic mountains, one quarter sand, rocks and gravel-covered plains and small areas of vast permanent vegetation. The vegetation includes shrubs, grasses, and trees in the highland and in the oases along the river beds. Some of the plants are well adjusted to the climate since they sprout within three days of rain and sow their seeds within two weeks after that.
Animals in the Sahara are mainly Gerbils, Cape Hare, Deer, Weasels, Baboons, Jackals, Sand Foxes, Mongooses, Desert Hedgehogs and over 300 bird species.
The following towns and villages are located in the Sahara of Morocco:
Tata: Located where the desert meets the mountains, this small desert town has the reputation for being the hottest town in Morocco.
Tleta Tagmout: A desert oasis
Foum Zguid: Located where the Jebel Bani range meets the desert, this charming desert town boasts one of the largest palm groves in Morocco.
Zagora: Located in the magnificent Drâa Valley, this town is a popular starting for camel excursions into the desert. A sign proclaiming that it is 52 days to Timbuktu is one of the most photographed features of the town.
Tinfou: This small town is located along the Draa Valley route where the stony ground gives way to the sand-dunes of the desert.
Erg Chebbi: This settlement in the dunes of the Sahara offers basic tourist facilities for visitors exploring the enormous sand dunes.
Ouarzazate: Catering for the tourist trade, Ouarzazate has a number of hotels and visitors enjoy the typical Moroccan market in the city center. The Kasbah is beautifully preserved and gives in interesting glimpse into the lives of the people who live there.
Rissani: Also known as Tafilalt, a cluster of small villages around the town of Rissani, is located along the last stretch of the Ziz valley. The region has a long and fascinating history and was a kingdom separate from Morocco between the 8th and 14th centuries.
Merzouga: Located at the start of the oasis zone, inhabitants tap the underground water sources for drinking and irrigation purposes, and the area around the town is well cultivated.
Erfoud: This small oasis town is used by many travelers as a base for exploring the beautiful Ziz valley.
Popular activities in the Sahara include sunrise and sunset camel rides over the dunes, sleeping out under the desert skies, ATV/4X4 trips, visiting traditional Berber villages, dune-boarding.