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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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