A wonderful 3-day adventure from Marrakech to Fes
This 3-day desert trip from Marrakech to Fes is definitely one to remember! Changing landscape from the green High Atlas Mountains, Rose valley and Dades gorge to desert of Merzouga, topped up with a camel ride over the dunes watching sunset and sunrise and spending the night in tents. You will explore the sand dunes; enjoy a million stars and an amazing sunrise all by yourselves.
Day 1: Marrakech – Ait Benhaddou – Ouarzazate –Skoura– Rose valley – Dades Gorge
We will depart from Marrakech at 8:00 am from your Riad/hotel and start travelling 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. Our travel continues along what is known as the Road of One Thousand Kasbahs, passing the Skoura palm oasis until Amridil, the South’s largest kasbah (featured on Morocco’s 50-Dirham banknote). Amridil is still inhabited, a chance to see traditional ways of life in these ancient settlements.
Then, we continue to visit the Valley of the Roses (Kelaa M’Gouna) , the center of Moroccan roses and rose products. Acres of Persian roses are grown and harvested here to create rose water, creams and soaps prized throughout Morocco and the world.
We continue to the Dades Valley, the South’s most picturesque, with its varied orchards guarded by adobe forts and its odd rock formations, passing the strange rock creation of Tamnalt Hills.
Overnight in the heart of Dades Gorge, with dinner & breakfast.
Day 2: Dades Gorge – Todra Gorge – Merzouga – Erg Chebbi
We depart Dades Gorge after a leisurely breakfast and travel east to market center Tinghir for a walk through its adobe kasbah above the oasis, followed by a drive up the Todgha Gorge, Morocco’s “Grand Canyon” (600 feet high).
The picturesque river valleys make for a beautiful journey towards the southeast of Morocco.The gorge is cut into the ochre-colored cliffs of the High Atlas. Its walls are 300 meters high and at their most narrow part are 20 meters apart.
Then we will continue to Tinjdad where we will visit the unique Berber Museum and enjoy lunch.
After that, we will turn through typical desert scenery and the volcanic mountain, stopping to admire a millennium- old vast network of underground aqueducts, until Tafilalet oasis, Morocco’s largest (120,000 date-bearing palms), with a visit of the ruins of Sijilmassa in Rissani, Africa’s 2nd largest city in the 10th century.
Then we arrive at Merzouga; the doorway into the desert where your guide and camels will be waiting for you to carry you across the sandy dunes of the Moroccan Sahara.
Camel trek as the sun set across the desert landscape, for approximately 1 to 2 hours to reach your desert camp for the night. Your guide will prepare for you refreshing mint tea and dinner of tagine.
Romantic night full of stars. Overnight in a Nomad desert Tent, with dinner & 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 3: Erg Chebbi – Merzouga – Midelt – Azrou – Ifrane- Fes
You will wake up early to enjoy the sunrise over the dunes of Erg Chebbi, possibly the best moment of Merzouga desert.
After breakfast, we drive through the palm-filled valley of the Erfoud to Ziz, then continue north over the multi-hued expanses of the Eastern High Atlas until Midelt.
You will stop in Midelt for lunch. On the way you will meet a troupe of Barbary Macaques at the side of the road obviously waiting for people to feed them.
You carry on driving through the Middle Atlas Mountains and see the native Atlas cedar trees which are used for the roofs and screens of the country’s mosques and palaces.
We continue to the mountain station Ifrane, known as the Switzerland of Morocco to enjoy its beauty and to have memorable photos.
You will travel through this National Park on your way to Fes.
Drop off at your Riad / Hotel at around 6PM in Fes.