Great Deserts - Sahara Exploration
On this tour you will visit Morocco’s Great Deserts
DAY 1: OUARZAZATE - DRAA VALLEY - ZAGORA - M’HAMID - ERG CHIGAGA
- Morning departure from your riad. Begin your tour to Morocco’s Great Deserts.
- Take the road to M’hamid and Erg Chigaga. En route to M’hamid you will pass the magnificent Draa Valley, the Sahara Desert town of Agdz, at the heart of the Draa Valley known for its 45 different types of dates. Stop for a picturesque view in Agdz and its stunning palmerie along with local trade routes famous for bringing dates, spices, and other goods from the South to Marrakesh.
- Lunch at Kasbah Tamnagoult.
- Discover M’hamid Iriki. M’hamid is known for Bounou, once a thriving village of Ait Atta Berbers and local Drawa Tribes. Visit the villages of Oulad Youssef, Oulad Mhaya, Ezouaya, and others, all scattered throughout the oasis.
- Sunset Exploration. Spend the night in M’hamid in a standard or luxury bivouac, or at a kasbah guest house in the middle of the dunes. Dinner included.
DAY 2: ERG CHIGAGA - ZAGORA
- Breakfast in Erg Chigaga. Take the road to Zagora. Zagora is a Sahara Desert town in the southern Draa Valley. Zagora is favored by travelers for its desert dunes, palms, 45 varieties of dates, and Hollywood sunset mountain backdrops. Take the piste to discover the land where caravans once transported sugar, tea, dates, and other dry goods to Ouarzazate.
- Arrive and visit Amazraou. Walk the palmerie and hamlet set amid lemon, almond, and olive trees. Then wander the gardens of the village. Visit the former Mellah (Jewish quarter), where a mosque now stands. Amazraou is inhabited by Arabs, Haratines, and Berbers who continue the Jewish tradition of silver making. Amazraou, also home to the old Jewish Kasbah, was once the center of life for a community of talented jewelers. Most of the Jewish people are no longer there, however Berber craftsmen have taken over the jewelry tradition and their workshops are open to the public.
- Pass Zagora’s Dunes of Tinfo and visit the old Kasbah Ait Lkaid in the village of Tamegroute. At the end of the main road you will find the famous road sign to Timbuktu that reads “52 jours” – meaning 52 days by camel.
- Enjoy lunch at a local kasbah hotel and restaurant in the town of Zagora. The Dunes of Tinfo, like many other dunes in Morocco, are famous for their healing qualities for rheumatoid arthritis. Ask your guide to bury you in the sand from head to toe for a 20 minute spa-like experience.
- Visit Zagora’s unique, beautifully glazed, forest green pottery at the local cooperative in the desert town of Tamegroute and pass by the Koranic library. The holy village of Tamegroute is known for the beautiful pottery created with a glaze made from henna.
- Dinner and spend the night at a kasbah riad in Zagora. Breakfast and Dinner included.
Day 3: ZAGORA - ALNIF - AIT OUZZINE BERBER VILLAGE EXPLORATION - NKOB
- Breakfast at your riad. Take the road to Ait Ouzzine via Alnif and the desert village of N’kob.
- Arrive in N’kob in the early afternoon. Option to check in at your riad or go directly to Ait Ouzzine.
- Ait Ouzzine is a Berber village inhabited by over 300 families who live in beautifully painted crenelated kasbahs and tend to their henna fields, water wells, livestock, and gardens. This peaceful village is tucked away along an impressive desert route connecting the Draa Valley, Tansikht, and Rissani.
- Meet a local Berber family, partake in a cooking lesson on traditional bread and tajines (tagines).
- Explore and tour the village. Walk in the green fields and see how traditional Berbers live with their gardens of herbs, livestock, and henna plants.
- Lunch will be served to you in Ait Ouzzine by a traditional Berber family. The menu will include a traditional meal of fresh baked bread with spices, a chicken and vegetable tajine (tagine), and fresh local fruits for desert.
- After lunch, have your hands and feet painted with henna, or have your hair adorned with saffron by a local village artist. Relax. Experience the tradition of Berber perfume made from musk and amber along with the villages own spices.
- End the afternoon in Ait Ouzzine with mint tea and almonds.
- Dine and spend the night at the Kasbah in N’kob – a Sandcastle in the Sky.
- Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner included.
Day 4: N’KOB - TAZARINE - RISSANI - ERFOUD
- Breakfast at your riad. Take the road to Tazarine. Tazarine is a small town with 20,000 inhabitants. On a platform just above the town visit the beautiful panorama over the city with dozens of mosques and palm gardens. Take the piste to visit prehistoric rock art at Ait Waazik.
- After visiting Tazarine, take the road to Rissani. Rissani is a desert town from the ancient Alawi Dynasty and the birthplace of King Mohammed VI, the current King of Morocco. Visit the old Mausoleum of Moulay Ali Cherif, the first King of the Alawi Dynasty. Next visit Maison Touareg, a Tuareg house demonstrating Tuareg culture, and then the old Ksar of Rissani. Continue on the road to Erfoud.
- Have lunch featuring the traditional bread of the region, madfouna.
- Next take the road to Erfoud. Visit the desert town of Erfoud. Explore the Museum of Fossils.
- Visit the Royal Palace gate. Enjoy the panoramic view from the top of the Borj-Est that rises 935 m (3067 ft) above the city. Tour the fossil sites in Carriere des Fossiles and the Maadid Ksar.
- Erfoud is a city located in south-east Morocco. Although many ancient fortified villages have existed in the region for several centuries, Erfoud was built up by the French troops after the victory at Tafilalet that ended years of battle in 1932. Erfoud is an active city full of commerce, restaurants, street cafés, hotels, banks, handicrafts, and souvenir shops. While it is a modern Moroccan desert town, it still preserves the authenticity of a true Arab city with an impressively wild market and gorgeous surrounding landscapes filled with oases, dunes, and rocky mountains. Erfoud is a cinematic inspiration for movie directors. Many movies have been filmed in Erfoud, including Prince of Persia, March or Die, and The Mummy.
- Dinner and spend the night at Kasbah Spa in the heart of the Sahara Desert town of Erfoud.
- Breakfast and Dinner included.
Day 5: ERFOUD - KHEMLIA - MERZOUGA
- Breakfast in Erfoud. Enjoy the amenities at your Kasbah Spa. Depart for Merzouga at noon.
- En route to Merzgoua’s Erg Chebbi Dunes, visit the Musicians of Khemlia, a Sudanese, Gnaoua, and Berber group of musicians who live in the Sahara Desert. Explore their village and enjoy a performance of Gnaoua trance music.
- Arrive in Merzouga before dusk. Explore the flora and fauna of the Sahara Desert on a sunset camel trek.
- Dinner and spend the night in the Erg Chebbi Dunes in a luxury bivaouc or at a kasbah at the foot of the dunes.
- Breakfast and Dinner included.
Day 6: MERZOUGA - TINERHIR - TODRA GORGE - DADES VALLEY
- Breakfast at your Kasbah in the Sahara Desert. Take the road to the Todra Gorge and the Dades Valley.
- Visit the Todra Gorge. The Todra Gorge is a canyon in the eastern part of the High Atlas Mountains in southern Morocco near the town of Tinghir. Both the Todra River and Dades River have carved out the cliff-sided canyons. The drive is scenic along newly built roads. Drive past the mouth of the Gorge and up to the villages of Ait Hani and Tamtattouchte. The Todra Gorge extends from the village of Tamtattouchte to Tinghir. The Todra Gorge, with cliffs rising dramatically up to 300m on each side of a narrow corridor, is a spectacle with its gigantic rock walls changing color to create magical effects with the sunlight. In the morning, when the sun permeates through the bottom of the gorge, the rock changes from pink rose to deep ochre gradually through the rest of the day.
- Have lunch inside the Todra Gorge or at one of the restaurants beneath the overhanging cliffs with a panoramic view. After lunch, take the road passing the village of Boumalne Dades through the Dades Valley.
- Visit the Dades Valley. The Dades Valley covers 125 km between the Todra Gorge and Ouarzazate. The Dades Valley boasts limestone cliffs with uniquely shaped erosions and superb scenery along the valley’s piste. Driving along you will pass flower-filled fields, fertile agricultural fields, riverbanks, and several fortified ksours. At the bottom of Gorge of Boulmane Dades there are ruined hilltop kasbahs and valley floor gardens.
- Dinner and spend the night at a charming boutique hotel or kasbah in the Dades Valley.
- Breakfast and Dinner included.
Day 7: DADES VALLEY - BOU THARAR VALLEY OF NOMADS - VALLEY OF ROSES - SKOURA
- Breakfast at your hotel in the Dades Valley. Take the road to visit Bou Tharar, the Valley of Nomads, the Valley of Roses, and Skoura.
- The breathtaking Valley of Nomads located in Bou Tharar is a beautiful valley where nomads live in caves that are surrounded by Mount Mgoun. Mount Mgoun is the second highest mountain in Morocco and boasts extraordinary views of the rust colored, earthy scenery.
- Have tea with a nomadic family. See how they make their own carpets and co-exist in Bou Tharar with other nomadic families. Take the road to the Valley of Roses.
- Your journey will then take you through El Kella Des Mgouna, the Valley of Roses. The perfumed Valley of Roses, just north of El Kelaa Des Mgouna is a pleasant journey on the road to Ouarzazate. You will stop for a tour of the Capp et Florale distillation factories laid out in the small kasbah town that manufactures the entire nation’s production of rose water (eau de rose).
Day 7: DADES VALLEY - BOU THARAR VALLEY OF NOMADS - VALLEY OF ROSES - SKOURA CONTINUED
- Rose water and other products such as hand and body soaps, oil, crème perfume, and dried roses are for sale and are also popular gifts among Moroccans. Ten tons of petals are required to produce a few liters of precious rose oil and the harvest is a labor of love. The culminating festivities of the annual Rose Festival are a lively time of year to visit. Continue on the road to Skoura.
- Visit Skoura and the Valley of One Thousand Kasbahs. Skoura is a fertile oasis lined with immense palm groves that provide great views of the Atlas Mountains alongside desert landscapes. It is renowned for the cultivation of roses. The palm groves were laid out in the 12th century by the Almohad sultan Yacoub el-Mansour and named after its original inhabitants, the Berbers of the Haskourene tribe. The most beautiful kasbahs in southern Morocco can be found here and many of them are still partially inhabited.
- The entrances to the palm groves in Skoura can be explored on foot, bicycle, or by mule. Ask your driver to stop if you are interested in stepping out of the 4×4 to see more of the area.
- The small, sleepy town of Skoura has a big market Souk every Monday. Most impressive in Skoura are the many kasbahs that ripple through its dry rocky oasis.
- After visiting Skoura, take the road back to Ouarzazate.