Desert Majesty tour – 5 days

 

1st day: Marrakesh – Ouarzazate
Morning departure from your hotel/riad in Marrakesh at 8.30 to drive across the High Atlas Mountains. At panoramic viewpoints, there will be opportunities to stop and take photos. The first scheduled stop is at the Kasbah of Telouet, which served as a palatial residence and the headquarters of the powerful Glaoui tribe, whose wealth came in part from the salt mines just outside the village. 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.

Then the route leads south and if the mine is open, you can enter and see how the pink salt rock is cut out from the walls. We continue down the 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 Kasbah of Ait Ben Haddou, the oldest and most famous Kasbah in Morocco and 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.

2nd day: Ouarzazate – Dades Gorges
After breakfast, you set out towards the Dades Gorge, passing the Skoura Oasis, where numerous ancient kasbahs, some sadly in ruins, stand amongst the palm trees. In Skoura, Kasbah Amredhil waits for a very worth-while visit.  The kasbah has been beautifully restored and gives a clear idea of life within such housing.  It is made entirely of adobe, an excellent building material; warm in winter and cool in summer, due to the thickness of the walls From here, our route takes us through Kela’a M’gouna, the Valley of Roses, famous for its Rose Festival in May. Here we stop to see the cosmetic articles which are made locally from the valley’s abundant flowers. These products are well-known throughout Morocco and are highly valued. Then you go off-road to have a better impression of the landscape. Along the way, you will stop at caves, used by whichever Berber nomads happen to pass and claim residence there. We will have a glass of tea with them before continuing to the Dades Valley for lunch. The area, which now forms the Dades Gorges, lay at the bottom of the sea millions of years ago. Great quantities of sediment were deposited around giant coral reefs, and over time this material became compacted into a variety of sedimentary rocks such as sandstone and limestone. Eventually, the movement of the earth’s crust caused the region to rise above the sea, forming the Atlas Mountains and surrounding landscape. After lunch, you have half a day to walk in the valley, or to spend it relaxing or simply strolling by the fields and gardens, or possibly having tea with a Berber family. You stop in the valley in a guest house for the night.

3rd day: Dades – Merzouga
After breakfast, the trip continues a short distance to Tinghir and the very different Toudgha gorges, where you can take a short walk to appreciate the steep sides to the gorge and the narrow expanse of the sky above. From there, you continue to the Chebbi dunes via Tinjdad, and the Oasis of Tafilalet near Erfoud, famous for its Date Festival in November, and Rissani, which is the seat of the Alaouite family of the present king of Morocco. Between Tinjdad and Erfoud, you can stop to go down into the fascinating underground water channels (“khettarat”).  The channels start at a higher gradient at one end until they finally emerge at the surface of the soil where they are fed into the fields. You can find out more about these channels by reading Andrew Wilson’s work. In Erfoud itself, you can stop to see the workings of thousands of fossils made into all sorts of artifacts. Lunch will be in a Berber village along the way. At the camp, you are welcomed with a glass of tea before taking a camel ride to watch the sunset from the top of the dunes. Later there is dinner and the night in a nomad tent at the foot of the dunes.

4th 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 itinerary continues to Zagora, the largest oasis in the Dra’a Valley and famous for some 44 different varieties of dates. The road will take you through Taous, south-west of Erg Chebbi, Khamlia, Tafraoute Sidi Ali and Foum Mharech. At the end of the afternoon, we reach a hotel/riad to spend the night.

5th day: Zagora– Marrakesh
After breakfast, you take the road north along the ancient caravan route and discover the real Dra’a Valley with its huge palm trees and ancient villages. At the head of the Valley, you will stop to visit Kasbah Tamnougalte, the oldest Kasbah in the area, of which some parts are still lived in and some, particularly the Jewish quarter, are now crumbling, having been abandoned to the elements. You return to Ouarzazate, via the mountain pass of Tizi-n-Tinfifte (1660m). The return to Marrakech will complete the trip by the end of the afternoon.

Prices per person

No Days Meals
5  All inclusive
Total price
2 persons
495 € *
990 € *
3 persons
435 € *
1305 € *
4 persons
420 € *
1680 € *
5 persons
410 € *
2050 € *
6 persons
410 € *
2460 € *

There is a 25% reduction for children under 12 years old whilst we do not charge for children under 5.

The price for trips includes transport in a private air-conditioned 4×4 a Toyota Prado, and fuel, an experienced English/French/Spanish/Italian-speaking driver/guide, all accommodation and meals; breakfast, lunch, and dinner (please let us know if you have a special diet), entrance fees and local guides plus the camel ride on the relevant tours.

Drinks and tips are not included.

There is an option to go to and return from the camp by 4×4.

These prices are liable to fluctuation according to the current exchange rate.

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