Ergs, regs, hamadas… types of terrain in the desert

The greatest misconception about the desert is that there is nothing there but sand covering a flat surface stretching to the horizon. The desert is not that monotonous. It has many faces and its landscape is changing every hour when you walk through it.

Ergs, regs, hamadas… types of terrain in the desert

Some of desert terrains, like hamada or reg, may seem unfriendly – they are rocky plateaus; the sand has been erased through centuries, leaving flat rocks, like in the Atlas Mountains, or a so called desert pavement, made of small stones, like near M’hamid, on the way to the palm trees.

And this is exactly the essence of traveling through the Sahara – you walk through a hamada for 500 metres and you get to an oasis; you leave an oasis and enter a land of sand dunes. Some bushes appear. Then trees. There are birds around. Then you get to a river bank (the water is here from time to time, after rainfalls), you see plantations and wells. When lucky enough, you will meet fennec fox or a herd of camels.

Few hours walking later you see the big dunes – mountains of sand up to 300 metres height – called ergs. Ergs are areas of loose sand, ever-changing, shifting with the wind, covering often as much as hundred square kilometres. Amazingly beautiful especially at the sunset and sunrise, they attract many visitors every day as main destination of desert trips.

To experience the desert, one need to travel through it. Otherwise a false image of boring flat surface in one’s mind will stay there forever, never to be verified.