Marrakesh Dunes Tour Through Erg Chebbi and Erg Chagaga (6 days)

 

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Out in the Desert Dunes, Where the Imagination Runs Free

The stunning sight of towering and majestic desert dunes is immensely arresting; an otherworldly vista not soon forgotten. Everyone should experience it at least once in their lives. We at Desert Majesty have created an amazing range of Morocco desert trips to take you right out into the Sahara and leave you spellbound.

On our Morocco desert trips, we want you to see and experience it all. That’s why we’ll whisk you away to the best ergs (from the Arabic “arq”, meaning a field of dunes) so that you can get the full sense of true majesty that lies in the desert. We will visit two of the major ergs in Morocco, the Erg Chebbi and Erg Chegaga. Just the sight of them as your approach is enough to take your breath away.

Ascending to the top of these mountainous, wind-blown dunes, you’ll experience a thrill that will leave you tingling all over. There’s plenty of time to take in the unrivalled views of vast African desert expanse, like our trips to Erg Chebbi and Erg Chegaga are designed to take place over six relaxing and enthralling days.

When you travel with Desert Majesty you enjoy the comfort and luxury of 4×4 transportation and sumptuous tented accommodation. You’ll experience the local Berber feel of life, and enjoy mouthwatering, delicious meals that are carefully prepared by local Moroccan chefs.

Ready to reserve your dream trip to Erg Chebbi and Erg Chegaga? You can book for a party of up to six people, and rest assured that Desert Majesty will provide you with a truly spectacular experience.

 

Main Highlights:

  • Enjoy wonderful views driving over the Atlas Mountains, across the famous pass of Tizi-n-Tichka and passed Berber villages
  • Visit the famous Kasbahs Telouet, the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou and the beautifully restored Kasbah Taourirt
  • Spend the night in beautiful riads and traditional guest-houses
  • Explore the ancient Kasbah of Tamnougalt with a local guide
  • Go off-track through the Dra’a Valley palm groves, passed ancient kasbahs and across green oases
  • Drive further south along the ancient route of the caravans
  • Visit the green pottery craftsmanship and the Qoranic Library in Tamgroute village
  • Spend the night in nomad tents in Erg Chebbi in Merzouga, the Tinfou dunes near Zagora, and Erg Chagaga desert
  • Ride camels to the tops of the dunes, take selfies wearing turbans the nomad way
  • Witness spectacular sunsets and sunrises from the top of the highest dunes
  • Taste dinners of nomad cuisine under the starlit sky followed by evenings of music
  • Sleep in your private comfortable nomad tents in desert camps in the Sahara Desert
  • Search for fossils in Iriki lake and discover Berber rugs craft in Taznakht
  • Sip a glass of tea or a coffee overlooking the lively square of Ouarzazate
  • Stop by the Atlas Studios and take photos of the film locations of many Hollywood movies

 

What is included:

  • Transport in a private air-conditioned 4×4; Toyota Prado Tx and fuel
  • Pick up from and drop-off at your hotel or riad in Marrakesh
  • Experienced local English/French/Spanish/Italian-speaking Berber and nomad driver/guide
  • Accommodation in air-conditioned rooms/suites with private bathroom
  • Overnight in the Erg Chebbi dunes traditional desert camp in private & comfortable nomadic tents equipped with beds, mattresses, sheets, pillows, blankets, carpets with shared toilet and shower facilities
  • The possibility of a luxury camp with private toilet and shower, lamps, more space and nicer furnishings at 45 euro more each
  • Overnight in Tinfou dunes traditional desert camp in private & comfortable nomadic tents equipped with beds, mattresses, sheets, pillows, blankets, carpets with shared toilet and shower facilities
  • The possibility of a luxury camp with private toilet and shower, lamps, more space and nicer furnishings at 45 euro more each
  • Overnight in Chagaga dunes authentic camp in private & comfortable nomadic tents equipped with beds, mattresses, sheets, pillows, blankets, carpets with shared toilet and shower facilities
  • The possibility of a luxury camp with private bathroom, nicer furnishings, more space and lamps for an additional 90 euro per person
  • All meals; breakfast, lunch, dinner – with vegetarian and vegan options available
  • A camel ride of about an hour – an hour & a half with a guide, and free sandboarding, if desired – just ask the camp staff
  • The option to go to and return from the camp by 4×4
  • Luggage service to the camp and all accommodation
  • Berber drumming and music
  • Free time to explore the sites such as Ait Ben Haddou, the Ounila Valley, the Dra’a Valley, Kasbah Tamnougalte, for walks, photos, and tea/coffee breaks
  • The opportunity to ask the driver to stop when and where you wish
  • Entrance fees and local guide
  • Tea, coffee and mineral water in the desert

 

What is not included:

  • Drinks
  • Tips
  • Extras

 

Know before you go:

  • This Marrakesh desert tour can be customised to be more personal and special
  • Additional activities, such as quad-biking or full day trekking in the dunes of Erg Chebbi or Erg Chagaga, can be added to this tour
  • You can choose to go to the camp either on camelback or by the 4×4 (you go for your camel ride from there)
  • You can always consult your driver about skipping some spots to spend more time elsewhere
  • You can ask us if others are interested in sharing the car
  • We require a 30% deposit of the total price to book the car, while the balance is payable to us in the office in Ouarzazate
  • There is a 25% reduction for children under 12 years old, whilst we do not charge children under 5
  • These prices are liable to fluctuation according to the current exchange rate

 

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Here are the details for each day of the trip:

 

1st day: Marrakesh – Dades

Morning departure at 8 o’clock from your hotel or riad in Marrakesh to cross the High Atlas Mountains. After the Tichka pass, you leave the main road and take a side road to the Telouet Kasbah, which belonged to the Lords of the Atlas, the Glaoui family, and which now stands in ruins after the last Pasha fled the country following the departure of the French.

From there you continue along the stunningly beautiful  Ounila Valley with the green fields and gardens running parallel down below full of bends in the roads, surprises at the hues of the rock and soil, Berber villages and gardens, as well as smaller Kasbahs. Here olives, almonds, and fruit trees are the main crops and the mainstay for many families.

This stunning road leads to the most famous Kasbah in Morocco, Kasbah Ait ben Haddou, one of Morocco’s seven UNESCO World Heritage sites. The architectural style is well preserved and the earthen constructions are perfectly adapted to the climatic conditions and in harmony with the natural and social environment. Probably originating in the 17th century, it is also famous as the backdrop to many Hollywood blockbuster films.

The road continues through the Skoura Oasis, where numerous ancient kasbahs, some sadly in ruins, stand amongst the palm trees. From here, the route takes us through Kela’a M’gouna, the Valley of Roses, with a stop to see cosmetic articles locally-made from the valley’s abundant roses. You stop in the Dades gorge in a guest house for the night.

2nd day: Dades – Merzouga

After breakfast, there is time to visit the gorges and walk by the river, before continuing to Toudgha to the very different gorges there.  Turning off the road at Tinjdad, you drive there via the Ziz Valley, famous for its succulent dates.  En route, you will notice strange piles of sand following the road.  These are the heads of the “khettarat”, the ingenious underground water channels designed to minimise evaporation in the desert heat.  It is fascinating to climb down to experience the coolness below ground and to wonder at the ancient engineering involved.

You continue to Erfoud, famous for fossil finds and the workings of them into attractive and useful artifacts. It is a source of wonder to witness the sheer numbers and beauty of these fossils, and please feel assured, there is no obligation to buy any.

In the afternoon you can take a one – to one & a half-hour camel ride in the Sahara. The sunset from the top of the dunes is spectacular (250m).

You have dinner and spend the night at an authentic nomad camp with shared bathroom facilities and a private tent for each couple or family.

Alternatively, you can choose a luxury camp with private bathroom, king-sized beds, beautiful Moroccan furnishings and lamps tastefully arranged to enhance your enjoyment of the silence and beauty of the dunes.

3rd day: Merzouga – Zagora

If you wake up early enough, you can watch the spectacle of the sunrise, when the colour of the dunes and the play of shadows are an awesome sight. The drive continues to the Dra’a Valley via the village of Tazzarine (now featured in the film ‘Babel’) and on to N’Qob for lunch.

After this break, the route continues to Zagora along the magic Dra’a Valley with all its kasbahs and where in some ways, it seems that time has stood still. (From time to time, off-road driving allows a closer impression of life in the villages.) The night is spent in a bivouac of nomad tents in the Zagora Tinfou dunes, where you can have another camel ride before dinner.

4th day: Zagora – Chagaga

After breakfast, the itinerary continues south with an increasing degree of excitement and anticipation as the desert landscape becomes more and more apparent. We pass through Tamgroute, where a stop for the potteries famous for the green glaze, which you may have already seen in Marrakesh, and also for its ancient Quranic library with exquisite hand-written Arabic texts.

In the afternoon we drive further south still, to M’hamid, the very gate to the desert and the end of the paved road, where the massive Sahara starts. The trip continues to the Erg Chagaga dunes (300m) with 60km of off-road driving, passing the varying features of the desert; ‘erg’ (dunes), ‘hammada’ (stony desert), and oases. These dunes are far away from civilization, in the desert proper …… and the silence and the expanse of the sand are overwhelming.

You have dinner and spend the night at an authentic nomad camp with shared bathroom facilities and a private tent for each couple or family.

Alternatively, you can choose a luxury camp with private bathroom, king-sized beds, beautiful Moroccan furnishings and lamps tastefully arranged to enhance your enjoyment of the silence and beauty of the dunes.

5th day: Chagaga – Ouarzazate

After breakfast, the route crosses another 90km of the desert, following a track winding through unusual vegetation, and crossing the dried-up Lake Iriqui. In the middle of this lake, you are likely to experience a mirage and unless it has been raining hard, which is rare, and in which case we cannot cross due to the mud, we can assure you, that “water” is not real. Here you can search for fossils; some lying loosely around but most fixed firmly into the rock.

At the edge of the desert at Foum Zguid, we drive north to Taznakht, famous for its Berber gelims and carpets, where we stop for lunch.  From there we turn back east to Ouarzazate, where we spend the night.

6th day: Ouarzazate – Marrakesh

After breakfast, we visit Kasbah of Taourirt in Ouarzazate, a strategic location controlled by the Glaoui for the Saharan Caravan Route to West Africa. The Kasbah did not house the main Glaoui chiefs but rather Glaoui’s sons, servants, cousins, builders, and craftsmen. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the Glaoui, or the pashas of Marrakesh were the lords of the south and the High Atlas, having been given complete power by the French during colonial rule to keep the Southern tribes peaceful and non-threatening.

Inside the Kasbah, you feel you will get lost among the myriad of mysterious stairwells leading into a series of uniquely shaped and sized rooms lit up by low windows; reception rooms, harem apartments, and kitchens. The larger rooms have plasterwork decoration featuring floral patterns and a contrast to the white walls. The apartments are distinguished by well-preserved painted stucco and wooden cedar ceilings.

We also visit the Atlas cinema studios, where many sets from Hollywood blockbusters are on display, with new additions all the time as new films are shot in the area. Among such films are The Kingdom of Heaven, Game of Thrones, Asterix and Cleopatra, the Jewel of the Nile, the Gladiator. We then take the road back to Marrakech over the High Atlas, arriving in the course of the afternoon.

Prices per person

No Days Meals
6 All inclusive
Total price
2 PERSONS
665 € *
1330 € *
3 PERSONS
565 € *
1695 € *
4 PERSONS
465 € *
1860 € *
5 PERSONS
445 € *
2225 € *
6 PERSONS
445 € *
2670 € *
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