Camels in Mhamid, Stars in Erg Chagaga (3 days)

 

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Overview:

This 3-day Sahara Desert tour to Erg Chagaga from Marrakesh is the most exciting tour for travellers with just three days available and who wish to have a unique desert experience.

Drive across the Atlas Mountains via the Tizi-n-Tichka pass, stop at panoramic viewpoints to take photos of the beautiful landscape, and to stretch your legs. Visit the former presidential palace, Kasbah Telouet, and the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou. Stop in Ouarzazate, pay a visit to the Film Studios, and discover the backdrops of many Hollywood movies.

Spend a night in a traditional riad or an authentic guest-house in Agdez and explore Kasbah Tamnougalt with a local guide. Go off-road through the Dra’a Valley, ancient kasbahs, and green oases. Drive south along the ancient road of the caravans as far as Zagora, the gate to the Sahara Desert.

Visit the green pottery co-operatives and the Koranic Library, ride camels in Erg Chagaga Dunes and sleep in a comfortable nomad tent in a desert camp at the foot of the most expansive Sahara dunes in Morocco. Explore the small villages to get an idea of life in the oasis, drive off-road in the Sahara Desert, hunt for fossils in the dry lake of Iriqui, get to know Berber carpet craftsmanship

 

Main Highlights:

  • Drive over the Atlas Mountains and the famous pass of Tizi-n-Tichka
  • Visit the former presidential palace, Kasbah Telouet and the famous Kasbah, Ait Ben Haddou
  • Stop by the Film Studios and take photos of many Hollywood blockbuster film sets
  • Spend a night in a beautiful riad in Agdez overlooking the palm groves
  • Explore the ancient Kasbah of Tamnougalt with a local guide
  • Go off- track through Dra’a Valley with its palm groves, Kasbahs and oases
  • Drive further south along the ancient route of the caravans
  • Ride camels in the majestic dunes of Erg Chagaga
  • Take photos of your group wearing turbans the nomad way
  • Watch the spectacle of the sunset from the top of the dunes (300m)
  • Enjoy dinner under the starlit sky followed by Berber music around a campfire
  • Sleep in your private comfortable nomad tent in a desert camp in the wild Sahara
  • Visit the green pottery workshops and Qoranic Library in the village of Tamgroute

 

What is included:

  • Transport in a private air-conditioned 4×4; Toyota Prado Tx or deluxe van and fuel
  • Pick-up from and drop-off at your riad or hotel in Marrakesh
  • Experienced local English/French/Spanish/Italian-speaking Berber and nomad driver/guide
  • Overnight in a traditional camp in the desert 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, private bathroom facilities at 90 euro more each
  • 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 trip can be customised to be more personal and special
  • 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 tour
  • 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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Itinerary:

1st day: Marrakesh – Agdez
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. Each addition to the building now stands in ruins exposed to the wind and the rain, having been abandoned and plundered after the last Pasha fled the country following the departure of the French in 1956. Wait to be pleasantly surprised by the traditional interior decoration as you reach the farthest end of the Kasbah.

From here you drive along the beautiful and awe-inspiring Ounila Valley, full of bends in the roads, surprises at the hues of the rock and soil, Berber villages and gardens, as well as smaller Kasbahs.  Almost at the end of the road, you reach Aït Ben Haddou, where you stop for a tasty lunch.

This is the most famous Kasbah in Morocco, 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. Having driven through Ouarzazate, we continue south over the Tizi-n-Tinfifte pass to Agdez. Descending from the pass you will be amazed at the view of the extensive oasis and the number of palm trees, all indicating the beginning of the Dra’a Valley with its thousands of date palms, producing an amazing 44 varieties of dates.  The date harvest starts in September and lasts a couple of months, so that is the best time to stop in Agdez for the freshest ones.  We spend the night in a guest house.

2nd day: Agdez – Chagaga Dunes
After breakfast, there is time to visit Kasbah Tamnougalte, the oldest kasbah in the Dra’a Valley.  Some of it is still inhabited but the Jewish area has been crumbling since the departure of its inhabitants to Israel, the last woman had left in 1963.  We go off-road for a short distance along some of the ancient caravan route, which was used to ply goods from sub-Saharan Africa and Morocco and goes between the mountains and the river, passing many villages and gardens. This road allows you to gain a better idea of the Berber way of life in the oases. Beyond Zagora, the largest town in the Dra’ Valley,  you can visit the Koranic library in Tamegroute and the local potteries, which produce all the green pottery you will see in the south. We drive to M’hamid, the gate to the desert, to the Erg Lihoudi dunes, where we stop for lunch.  Alternatively, lunch will be in the Ksar Bounou. You continue to the Erg Chagaga dunes (300m) with 60km of off-road driving. This route passes different 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. Once there you can take a camel ride of about an hour and a half.

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: Chagaga – Marrakesh
After breakfast, the road takes us west through another 90km of the desert with varying scenery: Lake Iriqui, where you are likely to experience a wide mirage in the heat, the mountains, and fossils. Lunch will be in Foum Zguid, the first village after the desert. “Foum” means “mouth” so the name is the “mouth/source” of the Zguid River. From here the drive goes north along paved roads and past amazing rock formations to the small town of Taznakht, famous for its Berber carpets and rugs. From there we cross the High Atlas again to reach Marrakesh at the end of the afternoon.

Prices per person

No Days Meals
3 Full-board
Total price
2 persons
325 € *
650 € *
3 persons
270 € *
810 € *
4 persons
235 € *
940 € *
5 persons
210 € *
1050 € *
6 persons
210 € *
1260 € *
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