On this tour you will visit Ait Benhaddou, Ouarzazate, the Valley of Nomads, The Dades Valley, The Todra Gorge then head to the Rissani, Erfoud, Merzouga, Ait Ouzzine & Skoura.
DAY 1: MARRAKESH - TIZI N'TICHKA PASS - KASBAH TELOUET - AIT BENHADDOU - OUARZAZATE
Driving Time: 4 1/2 Hours
- Breakfast at your riad in Marrakesh. Take the road to Ouarzazate.
- During your journey to Ouarzazate you will pass the olive groves of the Oued Zat as you ascend to the Tizi n’Tichka Pass. Built by the French in the 1920’s, the Tizi n’Tichka Pass will take you through stunning mountainous terrain. Along the route you will see panoramic views of the High Atlas Mountains as well as fertile valleys, blue and red colored villages, and striking geology.
- En route stop for lunch and visit the Argan Cooperative where argan oil, argan butter, and argan cosmetics are made by hand from argan nuts. Berber women crack the nuts and the grind them one by one. Enjoy a complimentary tasting. This cooperative is run entirely by women.
- En route you will go by piste to visit Kasbah Telout, one of Morocco’s hidden jewels and a famous kasbah that is the ancestral home of the Pacha Glaoui Family. Kasbah Telout is hidden on a tiny road in a small village that is 20 minutes outside of Tichka. The original zellij tile, masterful design, and collection of authentic preserved silks are grand remnants of the Glaoui family. Although Kasbah Telout appears to be in ruins on the exterior, its interior is one of true splendor.
- Visit Ait Benhaddou. 32 km from Ouarzazate, Ait Benhaddou is situated in Souss-Massa-Draâ on a hill along the Ouarzazate River. Lawrence of Arabia, Sodom and Gomorrah, and Jesus of Nazareth were filmed here. In recent years, controlled restoration has been carried out under the auspices of UNESCO. Ait Benhaddou once served as the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakesh. Most of the town’s inhabitants live in a more modern village on the other side of the river, however ten families still live within the old ksar.
- Spend the night at a 4 star kasbah-style riad in Ouarzazate.
DAY 2: OUARZAZATE - VALLEY OF ROSES - BOU THARAR - VALLEY OF NOMADS - BOUMALNE DADES VALLEY & GORGE
Driving Time: 2 1/2 – 3 Hours
- Breakfast at your riad. Take the road to visit the Valley of Roses, Bou Tharar, the Valley of Nomads, and the Dades Valley and its Gorge.
- 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.
- 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.
- Have dinner and spend the night at a riad or hotel with beautiful views of Dades Valley.
DAY 3: DADES VALLEY - TINERHIR - ERFOUD - RISSANI - MERZOUGA
Driving Time: 4 1/2 Hours
- Breakfast at your riad. En route to Merzouga’s Sahara Desert, we will pass the Todra Gorge and the Sahara Desert towns of Rissani, home to the Moulay Ali Cherif Mausoleum, and Erfoud, capital of fossils with beautiful ksar.
- Lunch in 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.
- Arrive in Merzouga’s Sahara Desert, then venture out on a 2 hour dromedary camel trek to watch the sunset in the Erg Chebbi Dunes. Your Tuareg guide will share the secrets of the Sahara Desert. As you glide across the silent desert landscape there will be countless opportunities to photograph the endless rolling dunes. Enjoy dinner and music at a luxury bivouac in the Sahara Desert.
- Spend the night in a luxury bivouac tent in the Sahara Desert or a charming guesthouse.
DAY 4: MERZOUGA - ALNIF - N’KOB - OUARZAZATE
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.
- Visit the Saharan Desert towns of Rissani and Erfoud. Roam and tour the old ksars, then continue to the village of Ait Ouzzine, located in near N’kob 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 with views of the Atlas Mountains, or choose to stay in Skoura with views of one-thousand kasbahs and the Skoura palmerie.
DAY 5: SKOURA - OUARZAZATE - MARRAKESH
Driving Time: 4 1/2 Hours
- Breakfast at your riad. Visit the region of Skoura, the famous Amerdihl Kasbah, the verdant palmeries, and the one thousand Kasbahs.
- 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 restored 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.
- After visiting Skoura, continue to Ouarzazate. Visit the Oasis of Fint and enjoy tea with Azziz O’Azziz, or tour Atlas Film Studios in Ouarzazate.
- Continue on the road back to Marrakesh through the Tizi n’Tichka. Arrive in Marrakesh in the early evening.