1st day: Marrakesh – Dades gorges
Morning departure at 8 o’clock from your hotel or riad in Marrakesh to cross the High Atlas Mountains, including the famous Tizi-n-Tichka pass, the highest pass in North Africa at 2260 meters. From these mountains, the wide views over the green valleys and burbling streams, and the little Berber villages perched on the mountainsides, sometimes barely distinguishable from the mountains themselves, are spectacular and breathtaking.
Having crossed the pass, you continue to descend until you finally reach Ouarzazate, sometimes called ‘the gateway to the desert’ and certainly technically part of the massive Sahara, where you stop for lunch.
Later the road continues to the Skoura Oasis, where numerous ancient kasbahs, some sadly in ruins, stand amongst the palm trees. Kasbah Amredhil has been beautifully restored and is well worth visiting; constructed entirely of adobe, an excellent building material – warm in winter and cool in summer, due to the thickness of the walls.
From here, the route takes us through Kela’a M’gouna, the Valley of Roses, with a stop to see cosmetic articles, weel-known and much valued throughout Morocco, they are locally-made from the valley’s abundant Damascene roses. You stop in the Dades Valley for the night.
2nd day: Dades gorges – Merzouga
After breakfast, there is time to visit the Dades Gorges which along with the surrounding area 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. You can walk by the river, before continuing to Toudgha to the very different gorges there.
Turning off the road at Tinjdad, you drive there via the Ziz Valley, famous for its succulent dates. En route, you will notice strange piles of sand following the road. These are the heads of the “khettarat”, the ingenious underground water channels designed to minimise evaporation in the desert heat. It is fascinating to climb down to experience the coolness below ground and to wonder at the ancient engineering involved.
You continue to Erfoud, famous for fossil finds and the workings of them into attractive and useful artifacts, which are worth viewing if not purchasing. In the afternoon you can take a one to one & a half-hour camel ride in the Sahara. The sunset from the top of the dunes is spectacular (250m) and afterwards there is dinner and the night in a traditional nomad tent at the foot of the dunes.
3rd day: Merzouga – Ouarzazate
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 along a more southerly road following the mountains towards the Dra’a Valley passing the village of Tazzarine (featured in the film ‘Babel’), and on to N’Qob for lunch.
In the afternoon, we drive along the Dra’a Valley towards Agdez, passing more oases and traditional adobe Kasbahs beside the river. The oldest kasbah, Kasbah Tamnougalte, in the Dra’a Valley is situated near Agdez, and you will have some time to visit it. Some parts lie in ruins, particularly the Jewish area and some parts are still fully occupied.
The last part of the day’s journey is across the Tizi-n-Tinfifite pass to Ouarzazate, where you will spend the night.
4th day: Ouarzazate – Marrakesh
After breakfast, we visit Kasbah Taourirt in the town, which belonged to the Glaoui family, the Pashas of Marrakesh. Driving north, you leave the main road and take a side road to Ait ben Haddou, which also belonged to the Lords of the Atlas, the same Glaoui family. This is the most famous Kasbah in Morocco and one of Morocco’s seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It is perhaps better known as the backdrop to many Hollywood blockbusters.
From here, you drive along the beautiful and awe-inspiring Ounila Valley, full of bends in the roads, surprises at the hues of the rock and soil, Berber villages and gardens, as well as smaller Kasbahs until you reach Telouet, the main seat of the Glaoui family. 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.
Once back on the main road, we reach Marrakesh at the end of the afternoon.
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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/
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.Book Now