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Atop the sunrise dune, Moroccan Sahara

Around 7am, Boxing Day, 2009.


The way the light changes on the dunes as the sun rises is magic.


Totally worth the climb up the incredibly steep dune.


Erg Chebbi, in southeastern Morocco, is one of two Saharan ergs in the northwest African nation. Its distinctive ergs — large dunes formed by wind-blown sand — reach up to 150 meters high, and form a composite erg 22 km long (north-south) and 5 km wide. The village of Merzouga, about ten hours from Marrakesh or Fez, is located near the edge of the dunes. The dunes are a popular tourist destination.

The erg is located roughly 40 kilometers southeast of Erfoud. The local center for tourists is the village of Merzouga. The locals believe that these dunes were sent as punishment for turning away a weary traveler from the desert. They say that shortly thereafter, the gods made the dunes pile up outside their town as a lesson never to send away another needy wanderer.

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Taken on December 26, 2009