Day 1: Marrakesh – Gorges Dades
Morning departure at 8 o’clock from your hotel or riad in Marrakesh to cross the High Atlas Mountains. After the Tichka pass, you leave the main road and take a side road to the Telouet Kasbah, which belonged to the Lords of the Atlas, the Glaoui family, and which now stands in ruins after the last Pasha fled the country following the departure of the French. From there you continue for lunch at Ait Ben Haddou along the stunningly beautiful, newly asphalted connecting road. This is the most famous Kasbah in Morocco and is a UNESCO World Heritage site, which we visit after lunch. The road continues through the Skoura Oasis, where numerous ancient kasbahs, some sadly in ruins, stand amongst the palm trees. From here, the route takes us through Kela’a M’gouna, the Valley of Roses, with a stop to see cosmetic articles locally-made from the valley’s abundant roses. You stop in the Dades gorge in a guest house.
Day 2: Gorges Dades – Merzouga
After breakfast, there is time to walk by the river before continuing to Toudgha to the very different gorges there. Lunch will either be here in the gorges or later at the bivouac at the Erg Chebbi dunes. You drive there via the Ziz Valley, the Oasis of Tafilalet, Erfoud and Rissani. In the afternoon you can take a two-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 nomad tent at the foot of the dunes.
Day 3: Merzouga – Zagora
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 drive continues to the Dra’a Valley via the village of Tazzarine (now featured in the film ‘Babel’) and on to N’Qob for lunch. After this break, the route continues to Zagora along the magic Dra’a Valley with all its kasbahs. (From time to time, off-road driving allows a closer impression of life in the villages.) The night is spent in a bivouac of nomad tents in the Zagora dunes, where you can have a camel ride before dinner.
Day 4: Zagora – Chagaga
After breakfast, the itinerary continues to the Erg Lihoudi dunes, where you have another camel ride of about two hours. Lunch is in M’Hamid, the last village, and right on the edge of the desert. In the afternoon, the trip continues by 4×4 to the Erg Chagaga dunes (300m) with 60km of off-road driving, passing the varying features of the desert; ‘erg’, ‘reg’, ‘hammada’, and oases. These dunes are far away from civilization, in the desert proper …… and the silence and the expanse of the sand is overwhelming. We have dinner and spend the night in a bivouac here.
Day 5: Chagaga – Ouarzazate
After breakfast, the route crosses another 90km of desert, following a track winding through unusual vegetation, and crossing the dried-up Lake Iriqui. Once across this vast expanse of lake, we stop for lunch in Foum Zguid, the first village on leaving the desert. The road back to Ouarzazate takes us through the village of Taznakht, well known for its Berber carpets, and we arrive in the course of the afternoon. The night will be spent in a riad in Ouarzazate
Day 6: Ouarzazate – Marrakesh
After breakfast, we visit the Kasbah of Taourirt in Ouarzazate, originally the residence of the Pasha of Marrakech. We also visit the cinema studios and then drive cross-country to the Fint Oasis, tucked away in the mountains and once serving as a crossroads for the caravans traversing the south of Morocco. We then take the road back to Marrakech over the High Atlas, arriving in the course of the afternoon.