Erg Chegaga desert, Dades gorges, High Atlas (6 days)

 

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Overview:

Book this 6 day Agadir tour to the Erg Chagaga dunes via Taroudant, called the little Marrakesh, Talouine, a saffron growing area with a government-run saffron museum, and Taznakht, full of co-operatives selling Berber rugs and gelims.

Look for fossils in Iriqui Lake before driving off-road through the largest Sahara Desert in Morocco. Discover the largest expanse of dunes at Erg Chagaga, where you can go for a sunset camel ride to the top of Erg Chagaga Dunes.  At the camp, enjoy an evening of nomad music around a campfire under the stars and an overnight in your private nomad tent near the big dunes (300 m).

Drive along the Dra’a Valley with its innumerable palm trees in the oases, ancient kasbahs and Berber villages marvel at the rock formations in the Dades Valley and visit Ait Ben Haddou Kasbah and Kasbah Telouet. Take photos of the wonderful views in the majestic Atlas Mountains.

Enjoy a full day sightseeing tour of the main attractions of Marrakesh including vibrant souks of Moroccan handicrafts, and visit palaces and gardens.

 

Main Highlights:

  • Photograph Taroudant’s famous intact city walls, visit Talouine’s government-run saffron museum and stop a moment in Taznakht, famous for its Berber rug and gelim co-operatives
  • Search for fossils in Iqirui Lake and walk barefoot in the dunes
  • Enjoy a sunset camel ride in the Erg Chagaga Dunes and take photos wearing blue turbans
  • Share an evening of Berber music and drumming around a fire camp
  • Spend a beautiful night in a desert camp at the foothill of the dunes
  • Drive off-road through the largest Sahara Desert
  • Explore Kasbah of Ait Ben Haddou, the backdrop to Hollywood blockbusters, and visit Kasbah Telouet
  • Enjoy a full day sightseeing tour of the main attractions in Marrakesh

 

What is included:

  • Transport in a private air-conditioned 4×4; Toyota Prado Tx or deluxe van and fuel
  • 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 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 or the possibility of a luxury camp in Erg Chagaga with private toilet and shower, lamps, more space and pleasanter furnishings at 90 euro more per person
  • 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
  • An 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, 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 Agadir Desert trip can be customised to be more personal and special
  • You can ask us if others are interested in sharing the tour
  • 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: Agadir – Taroudant – Tilouine – Foum Zguid
Departure from Agadir at 8 o’clock by 4WD to Taroudant, known as “the little Marrakesh”. It is spectacular for its massive ramparts and beautiful medina.

We continue to Tilouine, the heart of the saffron growing area of Morocco, where there is an interesting deliciously saffron-scented museum about growing this “golden” plant.

We cross the two passes of Tizi-n-Tighatine and Tizi-n-Ikhsane before reaching Kourkouda and Taznakht famous for its Berber gelims and carpets and where we stop for lunch.

From here we continue south driving past fascinating rock formations and wider flatter fields as we approach the edge of the Sahara and reach Foum Zguid for the night.

2nd day: Foum Zguid – Chegaga dunes
After breakfast, we drive into the Sahara across the now dried-up Lake Iriqui, which used to be fed by the Dra’a river and be full of fish and water birds. In the middle of this lake, we can search for fossils. The off-road piste takes us past the various features of the desert; the /rocky stony desert, “reg” and the “hammada”.

Lunch will be in Chegaga, far away from villages and ‘civilisation’ and where we are surrounded by dunes stretching as far as the eye can see.  Here you can clamber up to the top of the high dunes to watch the sunset.

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: Chegaga – Agdez
After breakfast in the bivouac, the itinerary crosses another 60 km of the desert road via the Sacred Oasis to arrive in M’hamid. The old village on the opposite side of the Dra’a River is typical of desert dwellings with adobe buildings and covered streets to keep out the searing heat of the height of summer. A wonderful example of these houses is Abdelhadi’s ancestral home which you can visit.

Later you continue to drive up the Dra’a Valley, the longest valley in Morocco. You travel through Zagora, the largest oasis in the Dra’a Valley, particularly famous for its dates. We follow the ancient caravan route used by the caravans that crossed the Sahara for days and weeks bringing treasures from Mali or Mauretania.

The road passes between the river and the mountains past all the Kasbahs and the local gardens, giving you a clearer impression of life here in this area of Morocco. In Agdez, we stop for the night at a traditional guest house.

4th day: Agdez – Dades
After breakfast, we visit Kasbah Tamnougalte, the oldest and most famous Kasbah in the Dra’a Valley. Part of the Kasbah is still occupied by a few families, living much as they have done for centuries. Other parts, especially the “Mellah”, the Jewish area, are slowly crumbling after the last people left for Israel at the end of the 60’s. We return about 20 kilometres south to reach the bridge crossing the Dra’a at Tansikht.

We have lunch in a small Berber town, N’qob. Further on we turn north to cross the Saghro mountains via the Tizi-n-Tazzazert pass (2283m)., with some strange peaks in the mountains and the “twin towers” of Bab n-Ali. The main tribe in these mountains is the Aït Atta, who were the last people to resist the French occupation. We spend the night in the Dades Valley.

5th day: Dades – Ouarzazate
After breakfast, we continue up the valley as far as the gorges, where it is possible to walk awhile. Before reaching the main road again at Boulmane Dades, we turn right to go off-road past Boutaghar. All along this side road, there are Berber nomads living in caves and you can stop to partake tea with them.

The road continues to the Rose Valley, where there is a Rose Festival each year at the beginning of May. The blossoms are distilled to make wonderful oils, soap and lotions, which are sold throughout the country. The next town on the road is the Skoura Oasis, where numerous ancient kasbahs, some sadly in ruins, stand amongst the palm trees. Here there is time to visit the very interesting Kasbah Amridil, which used to be depicted on the old 50 dirham note. Finally reaching Ouarzazate, you spend the night in a riad or guest house.

6th day: Ouarzazate – Agadir
The first visit of the day is about 30 kilometres away at Aït ben Haddou, the most famous Kasbah in Morocco and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Back on the main road we turn left passing the still intact film set for “the Hills have Eyes” and the new 130-kilometre long reservoir, Tiouine. We reach Taznakht again, and cross the two passes.

We stop to have lunch in Taliouine and continue to Taroudant again following the often dry Souss River and innumerous argane trees on all the slopes of the hill-sides back to Agadir, which we reach by the end of the afternoon.

Prices per person

No Days Meals
6  All-inclusive
Total price
2 persons
650 € *
1300 € *
3 persons
565 € *
1695 € *
4 persons
465 € *
1860 € *
5 persons
440 € *
2220 € *
6 persons
415 € *
2490 € *
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