4 days Sahara desert tour from Marrakech to Fes
Marrakech - Fes 4 days desert tour
Day 1: Marrakech – Tizi N Tichka – Ouarzazate – Dades gorges
In the morning after breakfast, we will start our drive to the high Atlas Mountains and reach the summit of Morocco’s tallest mountain. You will have opportunities to stop for pictures as we travel the winding roads up the steep mountainside. Take in the breathtaking landscapes of the High Atlas Mountains and marvel at the traditional Berber houses perched on the edges of the mountains.
After making our descent from the Atlas, you will watch the landscape change from rugged hilly terrain to the arid desert-scapes so famous to Moroccan imagery. We will visit the ancient fortified village of Ait Ben Haddou, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage site and film location for movies like Gladiator, Lawrence of Arabia, and Babel. Walk the narrow, winding streets up to the granary at the top of the hill, and experience the gorgeous panoramic view of the village and the river next to it. We will have lunch in Ait Ben Haddou or in nearby Ouarzazate, nicknamed the Moroccan Hollywood. Take a peek at the Atlas studio and visit the beautiful Taourirt Kasbah across the street.
Other attractions along our drive include:
- Skoura, whose defining features remain its mudbrick Kasbahs and vast UNESCO-protected palm groves, earning the moniker ‘Oasis of 1,000 Palms.’
- Kelaa M’Gouna, the rose city. There is an annual festival in May after the picking season in which they have an abundance of perfumes, soap, and cosmetics. We will visit one of the cooperatives there for you to shop and sample the rose oil.
We will arrive at Boumalen Dades in the late afternoon. This is a former trading crossroads for people coming from Timbuktu to the north, resulting in a myriad of differently styled Kasbahs. Take a moment to settle in at the hotel or guesthouse before taking a trip to the Dades canyon. Take the winding road a few kilometers into the canyon and stop to take some awesome pictures. The gorges show a dramatic landscape, with ancient rust-red and mauve mountains stripped back to zigzagging layers of knobby rock formations. This is a haven for rock climbers and rappellers, and you can see the remnants of the springtime runoff that is used as irrigation for the valley’s many agricultural needs.
Day 2: Dades gorges – Todgha gorges – Erfoud – Merzouga
Begin your day exploring Tinghir, a town nestled in the eastern edge of the gorges. Here a palm oasis unfolds like a green umbrella, and under the canopy of the trees, you’ll discover crumbling Kasbahs, the abandoned 19th-century Medersa Ikelane. To the north of town, explore the ruins of Ksar Asfalou, where Muslim and Jewish students once studied under the same roof. Travel with your guide to Todgha gorges, through many green palmaris and Berber villages until, 15km away, high walls of pink and grey rock close in around the road. Continue the journey through the desert, past many villages, and stopping again in Erfoud. Here Berber miners are relentless in their search for trilobite fossils, and in October Erfoud has an increasingly popular festival with dancing and music. We will take a short break in Erfoud to have lunch, and visit a miner’s shop, to see the impressive discoveries from this ancient seabed. Just a short drive from Erfoud is Merzouga, set on the edge of the Erg Chebbi dunes. These massive dunes are the largest in Morocco, spanning 22km and 5km wide, with some dunes reaching over 150m. Relax and settle in for the evening, taking some time to explore the dunes and watch the magnificent sunset in this quiet desert country. Enjoy a delicious dinner before retiring for the evening.
Day 3: Merzouga desert tour
Your guides will pick you up from the hotel at 9am to visit Merzouga and the surrounding villages. Stop at Khamlia, the home of freed Sudanese slaves who have settled in Morocco for the past few generations. Listen to their Gnawa music, traditional spiritual songs and lively dancing. We will take the tour off-road, driving behind the Erg Chebbi dunes to remote desert villages, abandoned mines, and visiting a nomadic Berber encampment. These hospitable nomadic families will welcome us with tea and an explanation of their lifestyle. After our visit, we will return to Merzouga for lunch—we highly suggest trying the traditional Berber “pizza,” with meat and vegetables stuffed into a bread crust and cooked over an open flame.
In the late afternoon, you will be taken to the dromedaries—one-hump camels native to this region of Morocco—and you will take a 90-minute camel ride to our camp in the middle of the Erg Chebbi dunes (standard or luxury camp options available). Watch the sunset from behind the dunes and go on a dune sandboarding adventure if you would like. Return for a glass of traditional mint tea, dinner, and music. Our guides will play drums and castanets for you, breaking the stillness of the desert with sounds of laughter and singing. Under the brilliance of the Milky Way you will tuck into your camp for the evening. Don’t forget to look up and see stars like you’ve never seen them before.
Note: We organize ATV rides on the dunes if you would like to explore the dunes and take pictures and videos. The price of ATV rental is not included in the tour but can be added upon request.
Day 4: Merzouga – Rissani – Ziz valley – Midelt – Azrou – Fes
Wake up to see the amazing sunrise over the dunes, and begin the trek (by dromedary, ATV or car) back to civilization. After packing up, you will leave on your journey to Fes, with stops along the way. First, we will make our way to Rissani to visit the lively market (Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays). After searching for spices or other local treasures, we will drive to Aoufous and the Ziz Valley. In this impressive valley you will find thousands of date palm trees, stretching for over 100km. Morocco produces some of the world’s best dates, and we will stop here for a panoramic view of the valley from above.
We will continue to the town of Midelt for lunch and take a quick stop in the Berber town of Azrou, a market center at the junction of roads to Fez, Meknès, Midelt and Khenifra. Deep in the Middle Atlas, it sits amid stunning scenery, with sweeping views of cedar and pine forests and high meadows that burst into flower every spring. You might even spot a few of the local friendly Barbary apes being feed by visitors. Our drive will head to Fes, the imperial city with remnants of its rich history. Conclude the day’s tour in your hotel or Riad.
from $530/Each Luxury Package
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