Day 1: Marrakech – Ouarzazate – Dades Valley
We depart about 08:00 from your hotel and drive throughout the High Atlas Mountains. A mountain range across a northern stretch of Africa extending about 2,500 km. The highest peak is the Toubkal mountain, with an elevation of 4,167. Along those curves and turns, we will see scattered Berber villages on both sides of the road. Where hundreds of superb Berber villages scattered on the mountains. Unexpectedly you will see a fascinating presence of hundreds of houses in Berber villages which are made from mud and straw; in the middle of nowhere; thousands of satellite dishes on roofs. All this makes you feel that nothing has been changed in life here through thousands of years.
Getting to Ouarzazate (Hollywood of Africa, Noiselessly town, The door of the desert), is a city is situated in the middle of a bare plateau, south of the High Atlas Mountains. It is mainly inhabited by Berbers, who constructed many of the prominent Kasbahs and buildings for which the area is known. One of those buildings is Taourirt Kasbah built in the 17th century.
Why this town is nicknamed Hollywood of Africa? Simply because it has been noted as a film-making location, with Morocco’s biggest studios inviting many international film companies to shoot their movies, like Lawrence of Arabia (1962), The Living Daylights (1987), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), The Mummy (1999), Gladiator (2000), Kingdom of Heaven (2005), Martin Scorsese’s Kundun (1997) and Babel (2005).
After lunch in Ouarzazate, we will have to drive one more 150 km to get to Dades gorges, derived from the Dades River and lies between the Atlas Mountains and Anti-Atlas mountain range. A big Berber community lives here, where they built many Kasbahs in the vicinity of gorges for defense purposes. These many Kasbahs with a combination of natural beauty contributes to high tourist attraction. Due to its fascinating landscapes and mountain colors, those Dades gorges are amazingly a famous location for serious climbers and trekkers. We will enjoy one of the hiking trips here for a couple of hours. We will have dinner and night in our hotel in the middle of Dades gorges.
Day 2: Dades – Tizi N′Tazazert – Nkob – Agdez
From Dades Gorges we drive on one of the most beautiful off-roads in Southern Morocco for almost 100 km throughout the pass of Tzazazert. We will go along scattered palm tree oases on the arid plateau, where we will see many Berber village and Kasbahs before we arrive in N’kob, which looks like a sleepy village with many Kasbahs and a small valley full of palm trees that sits in the desert landscape of Jebel Saghro (2500 m.)
The landscape in this region is pretty awesome. There is no development anywhere to be seen. As we drive through this area you can see some weird-looking volcanic rock formations and I’m pretty sure when the sun goes down the rocks will change into many colors as well. We go on our way via Tazarine, the capital of Henna, since there is rich agriculture of Henna plant over here.
Arriving at Agdz, which is located about 65 km from Ouarzazate. Agdz means “resting place” which is located on the old caravan route linking Marrakech to Timbuktu. Agdz long played an important economic role. Then, because of the drought years of 1970/1980 and lack of facilities of transportation, it has lost its importance, leading too much of the population to leave town in search of work.
Day 3: Agdez – Zagora – Mhamid – Chigaga Dunes
92 Km from Agdez, we will go via Zagora, which is a town in the valley of the Draa River. It is flanked by the mountain Zagora from which the town got its name.. On the top of the Zagora Mountain, the remains of an Almoravid fortress can still be seen. The exact location of the former Almoravid mosque is still a matter of dispute. Each year the Moussem (festival) of the Sufi saint Moulay Abd-el-Kader Jilali is celebrated at Zagora. A well-known sign at the town “Tombouctou 52 jours”, the supposed time it takes to get to Timbuktu, Mali on foot or camel.
We go on our drive and stop by one of the oldest libraries of the kingdom Tamegroute. It is a village on the Draa River. It has a history as an important center of learning and religion through its famous Zawiya. Tamegoute’s green pottery is also very well known.
Driving along Draa valley till of M’hamid, that is a very modest village by all standards, and not much different from the village you have passed before arriving here. From a vast plateau, you will get impressed by the huge sand dune of Chigaga appearing from the horizon. We keep driving on this vast area till we get closer to the Berber Tented camp, from where we go for a camel ride to meet one of the most fascinating sand dunes sights we will ever see, the superb sunset in the middle of the high sand dunes of Erg Chigaga. Tonight we stay in a Berber camp and enjoy the wonderful stars’ view.
Day 4: Chigaga – Foumzguid – Ouarzazate
From Chigaga, we drive along sand dunes on a peaceful and fascinating wilderness with some Dakar tracks. Passing by the natural dried lake of Iriki.30 years ago this lake was full of water and different kinds of birds. After a long way of driving on a bumpy off-road, we get into the regular road and pass the small town of Foum-Zguid, which is a noiseless and sleepy Berber town. It was a former road of caravans coming up from the southeast to the west north. It lies in a desert area north of the Jbel Ouarkziz and is part of the Sahrawi-inhabited region of Morocco.
After a long way of driving on an off-road, we stopover in Taznakht. It was a former trading post for this large region. This little Berber village is one of the biggest centers of carpets in the kingdom.
From Taznakht we drive for almost 90 Km, along quiet oases and plenty of Berber villages; to get to Ouarzazate where we will spend the night.
Day 5: Ouarzazate – Ait Benhaddou – Telouet – Marrakesh
35 km from Ouarzazate there is the fortified city of AïtBenhaddou, built in the 11th century. Once upon a time, this Kasbah was the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech. It is situated on a hill along the Salty River and has some beautiful examples of Kasbahs, which unfortunately sustain damage during each rainstorm and windstorms. Most of the town’s inhabitants now live in a more modern village at the other bank of the river; however, three families are still living within this Kasbah.
Aït Benhaddou Kasbah has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987 and several films have been shot there, including Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Time Bandits (1981), The Jewel of the Nile (1985), Kundun (1997) Gladiator and (2000) Alexander (2004).
Just 40 km from Ait Benhaddou Kasbah, we will see the Kasbah of Telout, a former route of the caravans from the Sahara over the Atlas Mountains to Marrakech. It was the seat of the El Glaoui family’s power; they were given political power of Morocco south of High Atlas Mountains by King Moulay Hassan. The Glaouis were almost as strong in power as the sultan himself. The palace can still be visited but it is steadily becoming more damaged and is slowly collapsing. In 2010, work was underway to restore the property. After lunching in Telouet we drive straight away to Marrakesh.
SAGHRO MOUNTAINS & ERG CHIGAGA 5D/4N MARRAKESH, WHAT′S INCLUDED
- Transportation in private licensed 4WD with A/C, fuel throughout the tour
- English speaking driver
- Accommodations in typical Moroccan hotels, Berber Camps Kasbahs, Riads and Inns with Ensuite rooms, air conditioning/heating
- Half Board – 2 meals each day Dinner & Breakfast, (Vegetarians are welcome)
- Possibility to upgrade accommodations category with extra cost
- Swimming stops (April to September), we select hotels that have a swimming pool facility for this period
- Walks & Explorations for example in Ait Benhaddou & Gorges
- Night at Erg Chebbi desert dune in a nomad tented camp (possibility to upgrade to Luxury camp)
- Erg Chebbi Camel Trekking tour at sunset
- Local Taxes