On this tour you will visit Ouarzazate, then head to the Rissani, Erfoud, and Merzouga.
DAY 1: MARRAKESH - TIZI N'TICHKA PASS - 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.
- Spend the night at a 4 star kasbah-style riad in Ouarzazate.
DAY 2: OUARZAZATE - SKOURA - VALLEY OF ROSES - RISSANI- ERFOUD - MERZOUGA
Driving Time: 4 Hours
- Breakfast at your riad. Then take the road to Merzouga. En route to Merzouga, pass the Skoura palmerie of 1000 Kasbahs, the famous Amerdihl Kasbah, and the perfumed Valley of Roses. Visit the Sahara Desert towns of Rissani, home to the Moulay Ali Cherif Mausoleum, and Erfoud, capital of fossils with beautiful ksars.
- 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.
- Have lunch en route within the Valley of Roses. Enjoy tea at Kasbah Itran which boasts views of the old Jewish kasbah.
- 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 3: MERZOUGA - RISSANI - ERFOUD - TODRA GORGE - OUARZAZATE
Driving Time: 3 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.
- Continue on the road towards the Todra Gorge.
- 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.
- A day at the Todra Gorge offers the option of extreme climbing, hiking, and sightseeing. A fun and strenuous hike involves a three hour loop used by donkeys and mules heading north of the main gorge to Tizgui, home of palmeries and ancient kasbahs. For a lighter hike, try the Petit Gorge entering at the mouth of the gorge. The mouth is an enclosed section with overhanging cliffs and is the most dramatic scenery in the gorge. Climbing in the Todra Gorge is an unforgettable experience.
- Lunch at the foot of the Todra Gorge at a charming Moroccan cafe.
- Another option is to have lunch inside the Todra Gorge, or at one of the restaurants beneath the overhanging cliffs with a panoramic view. After lunch, continue by car, hike, or ride horseback to explore the surrounding area and Berber villages. Afternoon options can include a visit to the picturesque village of Tamtattouchte with gorgeous red earthen houses located at the other end of the gorge.
- Spend the night at 4 star riad or hotel in Ouarzazate.
DAY 4: OUARZAZATE - OASIS OF FINT - AIT BEN HADDOU - MARRAKESH
Driving Time: 4 1/2 Hours
- Breakfast at your riad. Take the road to Marrakesh.
- Visit the Oasis of Fint and enjoy tea with Azziz O’Azziz, or tour Atlas Film Studios in Ouarzazate.
- 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.
- After visiting Ait Benhaddou, return to Marrakesh.
- Arrive in Marrakesh in the early evening and unwind. Dinner Recommendations: Your riad, Le Marrakeshi, Le Maison Arabe, and Le Comptoir. Later in the evening go out and explore Marrakesh’s Djemaa El Fna Square.