Erg Chebbi is a desert just behind Hassi Labied in the south of Morocco. Hassi Labied itself is a very small town near Merzouga at the edge of the dunes in the Moroccan desert. It is here where you will find Riad Aicha, probably the best bed and breakfast in Morocco. Most people visit Merzouga just next door, but the two places basically offer the same things, except Hassi Labied is less overcome by the tourist crowds. Both are next to the dunes and are well connected to nearby Erfoud. The best is, the Moroccan desert is just behind both villages, so you can go on your own self-guided desert tour basically any time of the day.
The difference between Merzouga and Hassi Labied is that Hassi Labied is far quieter and people don’t pester tourists. It was on my fifth day in Morocco that I arrived here and by then I was so tired of people trying to sell me things that I didn’t want to speak to anyone. So came Ibrahim, the owner of Riad Aicha in Hassi Labied, into my life.
How to Get to Erg Chebbi in Morocco
There are various organized tours from Marrakesh and Fez which cost less than €100 per person, including the transfer, food and one night accommodation in the desert. You can also rent a car and drive yourself to Merzouga or Hassi Labied and go for a walk on your own during the day.
Arriving at Riad Aicha in Hassi Labied
I stopped at the main square in town and was trying to figure out where I was. There was no telephone connection and my map was totally useless for small roads. I was so tired by then that I would have happily slept under a bridge at that point. So I turned around and decided to stop at any hotel to sleep. Hoping to find the same road I came on I took the wrong turn into a dead end.
I drove a bit further on to turn around and this was where I spotted a sign to Riad Aicha “with free Wifi”. As soon as I saw it I thought this was it, I am going to check in and download the map for the following day.
I parked up in front of his B&B and went in to inquire about the rates. He said it would be 200 dirhams per night, including breakfast. I wasn’t going no further! I grabbed my rucksack, he showed me into the room and I had a much needed shower.
The Spanish Biker
After the shower I went to speak with Ibrahim and it turned out that he had a returning guest staying that night. He was Ruben “Maxtral” Botas, a Spanish biker returning for the second time. They were about to set off for dinner with another berber family so we could only speak for a short while. Ruben runs a motorbiker’s website in Spanish and it was his second trip to Morocco.
I explained how I got there and what I did in Fes and Rabat. I then showed them what I had bought so far: some porcelain items and Moroccan incense. It was quite expensive in Fes so I only had a very small amount of incense but Ibrahim gave me a handful more of his own! Here is Ruben’s take on the trip to Hassi Labied.
Riad Aicha Review
The owner of Riad Aicha is Ibrahim and he operates the place with his brothers. It is right on the doorstep of the sand dunes in a quiet side street.
Here, you can taste real Moroccan gastronomy in their family restaurant – everything is prepared fresh by Ibrahim or his brothers. The riad has six bedrooms in local style with AC and free wifi included. You can also enjoy the impressive views from the terrace over some mint tea, looking over to the Erg Chebbi dunes near Merzouga.
Special Tailor Made Tours
Ibrahim can help you organize special 4×4 tours of the desert and also camel caravans. The length of the tours depends entirely upon you, can take hours or days, depending on how much time and money you have. If you want, they can also arrange to spend a few days with real nomadic Berbers or tours of the Atlas mountains and valleys.
I booked myself on a Moroccan desert camel tour, which is in fact a dromeda tour! These animals only have one bump on the back! The tour cost 350 dirhams with food and drinks included in the middle of the desert. The camel ride took about an hour to the camp site where we received freshly made food. There was also music and dancing and a huge storm. The Germans in the group were distraught, I think they were ready to ask for a refund. I really enjoyed the storm, which was the first in 2016.
Home Made Food
On my first day at Riad Aicha I asked Ibrahim to make me lunch. He cooked up the most amazing chicken tagine from scratch.
According to their website, “Riad Aicha provides you an unforgettable trip around the region of Merzouga, Erg Chebbi and into the heart of the Sahara Desert” – I can’t agree more!