Embark on this 3-day tour from Ouarzazate to the wild Sahara Desert in the Erg Chagaga Dunes. You will ride camels in Erg Lihoudi and the Erg Chagaga, and sleep in comfortable Berber tents in the middle of the dunes.
Drive through the Anti-Atlas Mountains via Agdez and Kasbah Tamnougalte, which you will visit with a local guide. Drive south along the ancient route of the caravans as far as Zagora to experience ancient Kasbahs and green oases in the Dra’a Valley. Visit the local pottery workshops and Qoranic Library in Tamgroute.
Drive off-road in the Sahara Desert, hunt for fossils in the dry lake of Iriqui, explore small villages to get an idea of life in the oasis, and get to know about the craftmanship Berber carpet making.
1st day: Ouarzazate – M’hamid
Morning departure by 4×4 to Agdez where the Dra’a Valley starts. Shortly after this small town, you stop to visit Kasbah Tamnougalte, the oldest Kasbah in the Dra’a Valley, before taking the ancient caravan road between the river and the mountains for a short while.
On the way, we pass many villages and gardens so that you can gain a better idea of the way of life in the life-giving oases. Soon after the police checkpoint in Tansikht, we come to the village of Tinsouline, from where you can drive just a kilometre or so off road to the fascinating rock carvings of animals long extinct in Morocco at Foum Chenna, some 4000 years old.
Zagora is the largest town in the whole area and where we shall stop for lunch. Later we pass through Tamgroute, where a stop for the potteries famous for the green glaze, which you may have already seen in Marrakesh, and also for its ancient Quranic library with exquisite hand-written Arabic texts.
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. Here a one- to two-hour camel ride leads to the highest dune to enjoy an unforgettable 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.
2nd day: M’hamid – Chagaga
The return to M’hamid can be on camelback or in the 4×4. After breakfast, you return to M’hamid to visit the old village across the now frequently dry Dra’a River. The old village 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.
In the afternoon, there is the departure for 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 could have a second camel ride if you wish.
Dinner and the night will be in an authentic camp in the dunes, or, once again, you can opt for a night in a luxury camp, with all the amenities of the first desert night in Mhamid.
3rd day: Chagaga – Ouarzazate
After breakfast we drive another 90 km across the Sahara over the stony desert, “reg” and “hammada” and across the now dried-up Lake Iriqui. 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” really is not real. Here you can search for fossils; some lying loosely around but most fixed firmly into the rock.
At the edge of the desert at Foum Zguid, we drive north to Taznakht, famous for its Berber gelims and carpets, where we stop for lunch. Turning back east we arrive in Ouarzazate at the end of the afternoon.
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