Tours from Marrakesh – Dades Gorge, Zagora, Erg Chagaga (5 days)

 

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Overview:

Book this 5-day Marrakesh desert trip to the largest Sahara Desert in Morocco, combining the Dades Gorges, the Zagora Dunes, and the majestic wild dunes of Erg Chagaga for a fascinating desert experience. Enjoy scenic drives over the Atlas Mountains and over the Tizi-n-Tichka pass, stop at panoramic viewpoints to take inspiring photos, to admire the setting and to stretch your legs.

Wander the Skoura Oasis palm fields and discover the beautiful Kasbah Amredhil. Stop by Kela’a M’gouna and purchase organic cosmetic products from the co-operatives, if desired. Take a walk by the river in the Toudgha Gorges or hike for a couple of hours if you wish. Spend a wonderful night in a beautiful guest-house at the edge of Dades Valley with time to explore the valley the next morning.

Stop by Berber village along the way for breaks and interact with the locals. Cross the Anti-Atlas Mountains, have lunch overlooking the palm groves. Explore the Dra’a Valley’s unlimited oases of date palms, towering kasbahs, and green oases. Drive along the ancient route of the caravans.

Visit the green pottery co-operatives and the Quranic Library in Tamgroute, ride camels in the Zagora, and Erg Chagaga Dunes.  Sleep in comfortable nomad tents in a desert camp in the largest Sahara Desert in Morocco. Drive off-road through different features of the vast Sahara Desert, hunt for fossils in the dry lake of Iriqui and discover the craftsmanship of Berber carpet-making.

Stop in Ouarzazate, photograph the film locations in the Atlas Studios, and taste a glass of mint tea overlooking the main-square of Ouarzazate followed by an overnight in a traditional riad. Visit the famous Kasbah Telouet and the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kasbah Ait ben Haddou.

Experience the majesty and wonder of our unique range of Marrakech Desert tours. Discover the tour itinerary below. Your journey starts here!

 

Main Highlights:

  • Enjoy stunning views driving over the Atlas Mountains and the famous pass of Tizi-n-Tichka
  • Visit the two famous Kasbahs, Telouet and Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou
  • Wander Skoura Oasis and photograph the beautiful Kasbah Amredhil
  • Stop by Kela’a M’gouna, the Valley of Roses and hike in the Toudgha Gorges
  • Spend the night in beautiful guest-houses and traditional riads
  • Explore the ancient Kasbah of Tamnougalt with a local guide
  • Go off-route through the Dra’a Valley’s palm groves, passed kasbahs and across oases
  • Drive further south along the ancient road of the caravans
  • Visit the green pottery co-operative and Qoranic library in Tamgroute
  • Spend two nights in nomad tents in the Zagora dunes and Erg Chagaga desert camps
  • Ride camels to the tops of the dunes and take inspiring photos
  • Watch the spectacle of the sunset from the top of the dunes of Erg Chagaga (300m)
  • Enjoy dinners under the starlit sky, followed by evenings of music round a camp-fire
  • Sleep in your private comfortable nomad tents in desert camps in the Sahara Desert
  • Search for fossils in Iriki lake and discover Berber rug making in Taznakht

 

What is included:

  • Transport in a private air-conditioned 4×4; Toyota Prado Tx or deluxe van and fuel
  • Pick up from and drop-ff 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 an authentic desert camp in the Zagora dunes 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 in the Zagora Dunes in a tent with private toilet and shower, lamps, more space and pleasanter furnishings at 45 euro more each
  • Overnight in an authentic camp in the Erg Chagaga dunes 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 in Erg Chagaga in a tent with private toilet and shower, lamps, more space and pleasanter furnishings 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, 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
  • 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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Itinerary:

1st day: Marrakesh – Dades Gorges

Morning departure at 8 o’clock from your hotel or riad in Marrakesh to cross the High Atlas Mountains.

After the Tichka pass, the highest pass in Africa, you reach Ouarzazate, the largest town in the area, and continue through the Skoura Oasis, where olives, almonds, lucerne, barley and fruit trees such as apple, apricots, figs, and pomegranates are grown. Here numerous ancient kasbahs, some sadly in ruins, stand amongst the palm trees, but you will visit a very famous kasbah, Kasbah Amredhil, which used to be depicted on the old 50 dirham banknote.  It has been beautifully restored so is intact and well worth a visit.

From here, the route takes us through Kela’a M’gouna, the Valley of Roses, with a stop to see nationally treasured cosmetic articles made locally from the valley’s abundant roses. You stop in the Dades gorge in a guest house for the night.

2nd day: Dades gorges – Zagora

After breakfast, we go south, through the Saghro mountain range, (“Saghro” in Tamazight, the Berber language, means “drought” and this area is certainly very dry and rocky. Annual rainfall is only 100 mm in the southern slopes and 300 mm at the summits.)

You cross the Tizi-n’Tazazert pass at 2283 metres, driving along the newly completed and asphalted road (2019) to reach N’Kob for lunch. From here our route takes us to the Dra’a Valley, which we join at Tansikht and where we turn south to Zagora. The road follows the ancient caravan route between the Dra’a River and the mountains and gives a view of the gardens and kasbahs in the valley.

We stop just south of the town in the Zagora dunes, where you will have a camel ride of an hour to an hour & a half and dinner in a camp of nomad tents.

3rd day: Zagora – Chagaga dunes

The next morning we continue to M’hamid and Erg Lihoudi, where there is an opportunity for another camel ride if you wish.  Lunch is in M’hamid itself, and you can visit the old “ksar” of Mhamid, which is a traditional, partially covered, adobe village.

Later we make our way across another 60km through the varying features of the desert; ‘erg’ (dunes), ‘hammada’ (stony desert), oases, to the Erg Chagaga dunes. These are the greatest dunes in Morocco and are approximately 300m high and 35km long.

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.

4th day: Chagaga Dunes – Ouarzazate

After breakfast, the road crosses another 90km of the desert, passing Lake Iriqui, as well as fossils finds for enthusiasts.

The first village at the very edge of the desert is Foum Zguid. “Foum” means “mouth” – so is the mouth/source of the Zguid River.  We travel north past amazing rock formations and oases of palm trees until we reach the town of Taznakht, a small Berber town famous for its rugs and gelims. You will have lunch here before continuing to Ouarzazate for the night in a riad.

5th day: Ouarzazate – Marrakesh

After breakfast, we continue our desert trip to visit the famous Kasbah of Ait Ben Haddou. This site has frequently been used as the background for some memorable scenes in many film masterpieces, such as “Lawrence of Arabia” and “The Gladiator”. It is also one of Morocco’s seven UNESCO World Heritage sites.

We visit the Kasbah and have lunch, before driving along the beautiful Ounila Valley, full of gardens and fields down below the road as it follows the river bed. After Inmiter, you could ask your driver to see whether the salt mine caves are open. Shortly afterwards, we visit Kasbah Telouet, the palatial residence of the one-time Pasha of Marrakesh, Thami Glaoui, who owned that salt mine which made the Glouis very rich.  The Kasbah now stands in ruins and the two older parts from the 18th and 19th Centuries are in particular disrepair. After Glaoui fled the country following the departure of the French, the Kasbah was plundered and abandoned.

From here, we drive across the Tizi-n-Tichka pass and back to Marrakesh, which we reach by the afternoon.

Prices per person

No Days Meals
5  All inclusive
Total price
2 persons
545 € *
1090 € *
3 persons
465 € *
1395 € *
4 persons
435 € *
1740 € *
5 persons
415 € *
2075 € *
6 persons
415 € *
2490 € *
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