Day 1: Marrakech –High Atlas mountains- Telouate- Ait Benhaddou – Draa Valley – Zagora
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 belongs 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. The trip goes through Draa Valley with its palm trees and old Kasbahs.
Night with dinner will be either in a Hotel in Zagora.
Day 2: Zagora – Mhamid –Tamegroute- Sacred Oasis – Erg Chigaga Dunes
After breakfast, our Erg Chigaga desert adventure continues through the palm groves lined Draa valley.
After a short break in the panoramic view of Draa palmeraie, we will head east to Tamgroute to visit the famous Koran library and an underground Kasbah, we will continue to M’Hamid; a small village – the last town and the major Draa oasis before the Erg chegaga magical sahara dunes.
Next, we continue our 3 days desert tour from Marrakech to another 60 km off road from M’hamid to Erg Chegaga dunes. Erg Chigaga is the largest and still untouched of the major ergs in Morocco.
This erg made of beautiful dunes is located in the Drâa-Tafilalet area about 45 km west of the small rural oasis town of M’Hamid El Ghizlane, itself located about 98 km south of the town of Zagora. This largest group of sahara dunes of the region reaches a height of 300 m on a length of 40 km.
You will see the captivating dunes of Erg Chegaga and get ready for a camel trek for 40 minutes to enjoy the sunset.
While on the back of your dromedary, you will continue to the camp for an overnight in a traditional nomad tent. You will be welcomed with some mint tea.
You will have a delicious dinner followed by a visit from some Berber musicians dancing and playing Djembe drums. The desert is breathtaking and the camp makes you feel like royalty – sitting by the fire under the stars. A night you will not forget.
Dinner and night in a berber tented camp after a 40 minutes camel trek.
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 3: Erg Chigaga Dunes – Foum Zguid – Taznakht – Marrakech
You will have to wake up early to watch the sunrise. Possibly this would be the best moment of your trip.
After breakfast in Erg Chigaga desert camp, you depart via the old Paris – Dakar race road to Foum Zguid crossing the natural dried Iriqui lake. We will stop for lunch in the town of Taznakht.
We arrive to Marrakech in the late afternoon around 6pm and you will be dropped off in your Riad.
Services included in price:
- Private A/C 4WD Toyota Land Cruiser or Deluxe Van or VIP vehicle throughout the tour + fuel
- Experienced English speaking driver (Guide)
- Pick up at your accommodation in Marrakech and drop off at your accommodation in Marrakech
- En-suite room with A/C in Zagora, with dinner and breakfast
- Overnight in Nomad desert luxury bivouac with guide (private tents) with dinner and breakfast
- Camels & guide, including sandboarding
- Free time to explore the sites such as Ait Benhaddou, Kasbah, Walks, Canyons, breaks for photos, etc.
- Option to visit berber/nomad family
Services not included in price: