The trip to Zagora can be disappointing. Bear in mind that the Zagora desert doesn’t have proper and spectacular dunes in the same way that Erg Chebbi in Merzouga has and is more of a rocky desert. While it is, literally, a desert, it likely won’t live up to your dreamy expectations of massive, coral-orange sand dunes. Deserts come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and the Zagora desert will not have dunes as you might expect. For this reason, we usually recommend a 3 days desert tour from Marrakech to the Merzouga desert.

Day 1: Marrakech – Telouate – Ait Benhaddou – Zagora – Erg Lihoudi

We will depart from Marrakech at 8:00 am from your Riad/hotel and start traveling to Ouarzazate via the Tichka Pass. The road will take you through the majestic High Atlas Mountain pass of Tizi N Tichka.

The trip will provide you with some spectacular and breathtaking views.

You will have several stops along the route for you to smell the fresh air and get some amazing photos. The pass reaches an altitude of 7415 feet above sea level and is the highest major mountain pass of North Africa. The road was constructed along an old caravan trail by the French military in 1936.

We will visit the Kasbah of Telouet which sits in the village of Telaoute nestled outside the Onilla Valley.  It belonged to the powerful Pacha Glaoui during his reign and is frequented by Moroccan travelers. It is said that 1000 people lived within the walls. 5 wife’s and 80 concubines. He taxed and protected the caravan traders coming over the Atlas Mountains.

It is amazing to see the contrast of how it looks like a ruined pile of mud outside, but then when you enter it, you see how rich the pasha was.

The Harem and reception hall areas give one a good idea of the former luxury in which El Glaoui lived, as well as a look at the Andalusian style of decorating. However, the older parts of the Kasbah are in complete ruins, making it difficult to see properly.

Walking through the crumbling passageways is like walking through a maze and some have gotten lost exploring the dilapidated Kasbah. It all ended in 1956 when independence was proclaimed as he later looked after the area as a governor for the French Protectorate.

Then we will drive on route to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Aït ben Haddou Kasbah, a hillside assembly of several multi-storied adobe granaries. In actuality, this setting has been used for more films than any other location in Morocco; films including, Jewel of the Nile, Lawrence of Arabia, Game of Thrones, Jesus of Nazareth, and recently The Gladiator.

After that, we will set off towards Ouarzazate passing the international filming center. We continue to make our way, experiencing the Draa Valley, en route to Zagora.

Once we arrive at Zagora, we have time to explore before joining our camels and head off into the desert for a 1 to 2 hour camel trek to reach our Berber desert camp for the night. The camp provides private Berber bivouacs, under stars being so bright in the Desert.

Overnight in the Nomad tent with dinner and breakfast.

Hints and Tips: 

  • Baggy trousers are essential for riding a camel. Warm clothing for evenings and nights in winter when the temperature drops. In summer, use strong sun block, lip balm and UV safe sun glasses. A scarf or hat will be helpful to protect your face against wind and sun.
    • Buy bright scarfs for pictures in the Sahara
    • Bring an aux and dongle for your phone so you can play music in the car!
    • Pack some toilet paper with you, not all the places you’ll stop will have it available. And hand sanitizer
    • Bring layers in case of colder evenings
    • The upgrade to a luxury camp is great… hot showers and comfortable beds in a lovely setting.
    • If you like to drink, stock up at the grocery store and if you need to keep things cold, see if they have a bucket and ice for a makeshift cooler!
  • Sneakers are preferred over hiking boots (avoid heavy trekking shoes on camels), and extra socks.
  • You can leave your luggage with your driver – it will be safe. Only carry the essentials in a small bag. A torch is a useful addition, as well as water. Buy some in Merzouga to make it sufficient for your personal needs and always carry water with you when you go climbing the dunes.
  • Alcohol (beer and wine) can be purchased en route from supermarkets and taken with you on the camels.

Day 2: Erg Lihoudi – Ouarzazate – Marrakech

Wake up early to enjoy the camel ride at sunrise and to explore the sand dunes further.

We then make our way back  to Marrakech, stopping off at many highlights along the way.

Our journey takes us over the High Atlas mountains where you will enjoy the magnificent views of the surrounding berber villages.

We return to Marrakech and drop you off at your Riad / Hotel at around 6:00 PM.

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Morocco tour from Marrakech to Zagora

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