Erg Chegaga desert trip and the Anti-Atlas – 6 days

 

1st day: Marrakesh – Agdez
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.

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
After breakfast, there is time to visit Kasbah Tamnougalte, the oldest and largest Kasbah in the Dra’a Valley. Part of the Kasbah is still inhabited and other parts crumbling away, especially that now the last Jews have left for Israel. We follow the ancient caravan road between the river and the mountains for a short while and on the way, we pass many villages and gardens so that you can gain a better idea of the way of life along the oases.

Zagora is the largest town in the whole area and from where we reach Tamgroute, where we stop to visit the potteries famous for the green glaze, which you may have already seen in Marrakesh. The ancient Quranic library with exquisite hand-written Arabic texts is also well worth a visit.

In the afternoon we drive further south still, to M’hamid, the very gate to the desert and the end of the paved road. This is where the Sahara starts and from where we drive to the Erg Chagaga dunes (300m) with 60km of off-road. This route passes different features of the desert; “erg” (dunes) and “ hammada” (stony desert), oases.

These dunes are far away from civilization, in the desert proper, where nomadic life is hard, subject to the vagaries of the wind, sandstorms, and sparse rainfall.  But the silence and the expanse of the sand are overwhelming. Here you have a one to one & a half-hour camel ride to watch the magnificent sunset. Dinner and a night’s sleep are in a camp of nomad tents.

3rd day: Chagaga – Tissint
After breakfast we drive another 90 km across the Sahara past dunes and stony desert, and across the now dried-up Lake Iriqui. In the middle of this lake, we can search for fossils. In the middle of this lake, you are likely to experience a mirage and unless it has been raining hard, which is rare, and in which case we cannot cross due to the mud, we can assure you, that “water” is not real. Here you can search for fossils; some lying loosely around but most fixed firmly into the rock, but nevertheless exciting to see.

At the edge of the desert at Foum Zguid, we turn west along the edge of the desert along the asphalted road towards Tata which few people visit. This is the old Algeria to Zagora caravan route and passes oases and the Jebel Bani Mountains, which later give way to the Anti Atlas. You spend the night in a guest house in Tissint.

4th day: Tissint to Tafraoute
After breakfast, you continue west to Tata where it is worth visiting the Kasbah and the small museum.  From Tata you head north through a very long gorge following the Tata river and passing through Tiata Tagmoute, a small Berber town, to join the Taliouine to Tafraoute road, which you do at Ighrem.

This turns south-west towards Tafraoute in the Anti-Atlas. You pass through the Berber towns of Azoura, Idaoua, Tiguermine and Ait Abdellah. This is not at all a main route taken by tourists and so unspoiled country with stunning views! You spend the night here in this small town of about five thousand inhabitants.

5th day: Tafrouate to Taroudant
First, there will be a visit to the rocks painted by the Belgian painter Jean Veran. in a stunning art project. The painted stone formations come as a surprise and are a contrast to the landscape’s own golden red colors. The rocks are all strange and unique in their formation and the paint emphasises these peculiarities. They were painted in 1984 with help from local firemen, who sprayed 18 tons of paint over them. Since then, the colours have, of course, faded but the whole project remains impressive.

We continue to Taroudant called the “little Marrakesh” because of the vast, intact city walls surrounding it. Taroudant is also famous for its silver jewellery. It is here that you spend the night after crossing the mountain roads along slopes full of argane trees.

6th day: Taroudant – Marrakesh
After breakfast and exploring the town, you travel along the Souss river valley with all its argane groves and orange plantations as far as Agadir.

From there you take the new motorway to arrive in Marrakesh at the end of the afternoon.

Prices per person

No Days Meals
6  All inclusive
Total price
2 persons
665 € *
1330 € *
3 persons
565 € *
1695 € *
4 persons
465 € *
1860 € *
5 persons
445 € *
2225 € *
6 persons
445 € *
2670 € *

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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