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
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.
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