Sahara Desert / 4 Days
Visit Skoura, the Valley of Roses, Rissani, Erfoud, the Merzouga Sahara Desert, a Berber Village, and the Todra Gorge.
DAY 1: OUARZAZATE - SKOURA - VALLEY OF ROSES - BOU THARAR VALLEY OF NOMADS - BOUMALNE DADES VALLEY & GORGE
Driving Time: 2 1/2 Hours
- Start your Tour from the region of Ouarzazate. Take the road to visit Skoura, Bou Tharar, the Valley of Nomads, and the Dades Valley.
- Skoura is a fertile oasis lined with immense palm groves that provide incredible 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. Named after its original inhabitants, the Berbers of the Haskourene tribe, the most beautiful kasbahs in southern Morocco are found here with many still partially inhabited.
- With the many kasbahs that ripple through its dry rocky oasis, Skoura is known as the Valley of One Thousand Kasbahs.
- The Ben Morro Kasbah stands on the left of the road above Skoura. It was built in the 17th Century and now completely restores and converted into a guest house.
- The most imposing of the kasbahs in this area that you will tour is 17th Century Amerhidil Kasbah. This fortified residence once belonged to the most powerful family responsible for protecting the village and its lands called the Glaoui. Today it is owned by the Sheikh of Amerhidil.
- 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). 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Lunch will be served at a nearby guesthouse that offers local Moroccan fare and a panoramic view. Relax and sip mint tea while gazing at the impressive valley view. Continue your discovery of the Dades Valley and Gorge after lunch.
- Dine and spend the night at a riad or hotel with beautiful views of Dades Valley.
DAY 2: DADES VALLEY - TODRA GORGE - ERFOUD - RISSANI - MERZOUGA
Driving Time: 4 Hours
- Breakfast at your riad. Take the road to visit the Todra Gorge, Erfoud, Rissani, and Merzouga.
- 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.
- Take the road to Erfoud. 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.
- Continue the road to Rissani, 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 Merzouga.
- Option to take the road to the village of Khemlia to listen to Gnaoua music and see how the village association works.
- Arrive in Merzouga. Take a camel trek along the piste into the Sahara Desert as the sun sets to discover the rocky and majestic Erg Chebbi Dunes.
- Dine on an 1001 Arabian Nights Moroccan feast and listen to local Moroccan Saharan music at your luxury bivouac.
DAY 3: MERZOUGA - AIT OUZZINE -TODRA GORGE
Driving Time: 3 1/2 Hours
- Rise, have breakfast, and take a sunrise trek back to Merzouga. Take the road to explore Merzouga’s desert scenery by piste. View flora and fauna that is unique to the Sahara.
- Take the road to the village of Ait Ouzzine, located in N’kob which is nestled within the Middle Atlas Mountains.
- 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 and partake in a cooking lesson on traditional bread and tajines.
- Explore and tour the village. Walk in the green fields and see how the 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. Take the road through the Draa Valley back to Ouarzazate.
- Dine and spend the night at a 4 star riad in the heart of Ouarzazate’s Berber region.