Day 1: Marrakesh – Ouarzazate
Morning departure from your hotel/riad in Marrakesh at 8 o’clock and driving across the High Atlas mountains. At panoramic viewpoints, there will opportunities to stop and take photos. The first scheduled stop is at the Kasbah of Telouet, which served as a palatial residence and the headquarters of the powerful Glaoui tribe. Then the route crosses the Oumila Valley and leads to the Kasbah of Ait Ben Haddou, the oldest and most famous Kasbah in Morocco and a UNESCO World Heritage site where we have lunch. After visiting the Kasbah, you continue to see another famous one of the area, Kasbah Tifoultoute. In Ouarzazate you spend the night in a riad.
Day 2: Ouarzazate – Toudgha
Morning departure to the Toudgha Gorge, passing the Oasis of Skoura, where numerous ancient kasbahs, some sadly in ruins, stand amongst the palm trees. From here, our route takes us through Kela’a M’gouna, the Valley of Roses, where we stop to see cosmetic articles locally-made from the valley’s abundant roses. These products are well-known throughout Morocco and are highly valued We drive off-road to the Dades Gorge for lunch, after which there is time for a stroll alongside the river before continuing to the Toudgha Gorge for the second night in a hotel or kasbah there.
Day 3: Toudgha – 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 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 4: Merzouga – Agdez
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 back east to the Dra’a Valley takes us via the villages of Tazzarine (featured in the film ‘Babel’) and N’Qob, where we have lunch. In the afternoon we drive to Tanasikht, along the track of the ancient caravan route, reaching the Dra’a valley, abundant with large palm trees and ancient kasbahs, at Agdez. We spend the night at the oldest Kasbah in the village, Kasbah Tamnougalte.
Day 5: Agdez – Chagaga
Departure in the morning by 4×4 from Agdez through the Dra’a Valley along the track of the ancient caravan route to Zagora. From here the trip continues along paved roads to the village of M’hamid, which marks the end of the paved road and the beginning of the Sahara. Here we pause for lunch in a riad set in a beautiful garden full of palm trees and with a swimming pool. In the afternoon, we leave for the Erg Chagaga dunes (300m) with 60km off-road. This route passes different features of the desert; ‘erg’, ‘reg’, ‘hammada’, oases. These dunes are far away from civilization, in the desert proper ……. and the silence and the expanse of the sand are overwhelming. Dinner and the night are in a bivouac there.
Day 6: Chagaga – Taroudant
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 we can search for fossils. 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. After crossing the Tizi-n-Ikhsane and Tizi-n-Tighatine passes, we reach Taliouine, the heart of the saffron growing region. The road takes us onto to Taroudant, where we stop for the night in a riad
Day 7: Taroudant – Tassaouirgane
In the morning a visit to the town known as “the little Marrakesh”. It is spectacular for its massive ramparts and beautiful medina. Then we climb back up the High Atlas Mountains across the famous Tizi-n-Test pass, stopping at the Tinmal mosque, which may be visited by non-Moslems. Lunch will be in a mountain restaurant with superb views. From here we continue through the mountains to the village of Tassaouirgane where we leave the main road and follow a valley up to a mountain retreat for the night. Here the quiet and beauty of the view down the valley over the gardens full of fruit trees is overwhelming.
Day 8: Tassaourigane – Marrakesh
After breakfast, we descend the valley again back to the main road. We turn towards Marrakesh following the Ourika River and all its waterfalls. In Imlil we stop to walk and look up at Toubkal Mountain, the highest peak in North Africa. Further down the Ourika Valley we stop for lunch with a Berber family. And then back to Marrakesh.