Sahara Desert tour
A Tour of Morocco’s Sahara Desert & the Great South
Morocco Sahara Desert Safari Tour Description: Visit Morocco’s Sahara Desert on a 5 Day Private Tour from Marrakech. This Sahara Desert Private Tour includes stays at stylish and Boutique Riads and Guest Houses, an overnight in a Luxury Desert Camp, time in the Skoura Palm Groves, Berber Villages, visits of Morocco’s Historic Kasbahs, Camel Trekking in the Erg Chebbi Dunes and the option to Hike in the Dades Valley Region. Perfect for couples, families and indipendent travelers seeking adventure from Marrakech.
Good to Know
Read the basic info and also some fun facts about Sahara desert tour! Here you will find everything you should know about it!
Day 1: Marrakech Departure to Skoura via the Tizzin’ Tichka Pass. Visit Kasbah Telouet and Ait Ben Haddou en route to Skoura (Driving Time: 5 1/2 Hours)
Take the road to Ouarzazate. During your journey to Ouarzazate you will also pass the olive groves of the Oued Zat, as you ascend onto the Tizi-N-Tichka Pass Road. Built by the French in the 1920’s, the Tizi-N-Tichka Pass can be described as having mountainous barriers, Mediterranean and oceanic influences and desert borders. Along the route you will see panoramic views of the High Atlas Mountains as well as sights of fertile valleys, blue and red colored pise villages and other striking mineral environments.
En route stop for lunch and visit the Argan Cooperative where Argan Oil, Butter and Cosmetics are made with the Argan nut by hand as Berber women crack the nuts and the grind them one by one. Have a complimentary tasting. This cooperative is run entirely by women.
Go by piste to visit Kasbah Telout, one of Morocco’s hidden jewels and a famous Kasbahs that is the origin of the Pacha Glaoui Family. Kasbah Telout is hidden among a tiny road in a small village that is 20 minutes outside Tichka. Its history stands alone with its original zellij tile, authentic, preserved silks and grand remnants of the Glaoui family. Unlike the other Kasbahs in Southern Morocco, Telout was occupied by the Glaoui’s instead of the slaves and has stunning views. This Kasbahs has yet to be coined a UNESCO World Heritage site and while it appears in parts to be in ruins on the exterior, its interior is one of true splendor.
Telouet was once an important stop on the Southern Caravan route for traders carrying spices, slaves and other commodities. Telouet’s Kasbah also known as Dar Glaoui once served as the royal headquarters and residence of the Glaoui tribe. Until Morocco’s independence in 1956, the Glaoui had power in the central Moroccan and French administration.
Today Kasbah Telouet’s toned, dark red walls are crumbling, however, the dramatic history of its former residents makes it a favorite visit of many. After over half a century of decay this Kasbah’s interior still stands out with its painted salon walls, the bright Zellij (tiles) and labyrinth of locked doors with dangling silver knockers. The Kasbah boasts iron window grilles and finely carved ceilings decorated in a painterly fashion using Saffron and Henna. All of the rooms that still remain include the harem, the kitchens, the cinema and roof top view, which is a risky trek but enables you look down upon some of the old courts. After perusing the unbelievable myriad of connecting passages, trek up the nearby ornate central hill and see the astonishing panoramic view of this masterpiece born from quasi-medieval power created in the 20th century.
Continue the road to Ouarzazate. Visit Aït Benhaddou Kasbah. Ait Benhaddou Kasbah is located 32 km from Ouarzazate. Aït Benhaddou is situated in Souss-Massa-Draâ on a hill along the Ouarzazate River. Lawrence of Arabia was filmed here and Orson Welles used it as a location for Sodome and Gomorrah; and for Jesus of Nazareth the whole lower part of the village was rebuilt. In recent years more controlled restoration has been carried out under UNESCO auspices. Aït Benhaddou is one of many locations in this region used for shooting Hollywood films. Your guide will lead you on a private tour through this Berber village of towered and crenulated Kasbahs that once guarded the lucrative caravan route through the Atlas Mountains. Aït Benhaddou was once a significant stop for traders carrying gold, salt and slaves along the famous Southern Caravan route moving through the Sahara.
Continue to Skoura, the Valley of One Thousand Kasbahs.
Overnight at a Boutique Riad in Skoura.
Day 2: Skoura Departure to the Dades Valley, Explore the Skoura Palmeraie and Valley of One Thousand Kasbahs, then continue to visit the Valley of Roses and Valley of Nomads en route. Explore the Dades Gorge. (Driving Time: 2 1/2 Hours)
Visit the Skoura palmeraie and the Valley of 1000 Kasbahs. The “Valley of One Thousand Kasbahs” and Skoura palmeraie is a fertile oasis lined with immense palm groves that provide great views of the Atlas Mountains alongside deserted landscapes. The palm groves were laid out in the 12th century by the Almohad sultan Yacoub el-Mansour and named after its original inhabitants, the Berbers of the Haskourene tribe. The most beautiful kasbahs in southern Morocco can be found here. Many of them are still partially inhabited.
Continue towards the perfumed Valley of Roses, just north of El Kelaa Des Mgouna. On the way to the Valley of Roses, your driver will stop for you to view the Capp et Floral distillation factories laid out in the small Kasbah town that manufacture the entire nations products of eau de rose. The rose water and other products such as hand and body soaps, oil, crème perfume and dried flowers are for sale and also popular among Moroccans. The factories produce 3000-4000 petals a year. With ten tons of petals required to produce a few liters of precious oil, the harvest is understandably a labor of love and the culminating festivities of the annual Rose Festival are all the livelier for it. In the Valley of Roses will find miles of pink, small Persian roses-cultivated as hedgerows dividing the plots of land. In spring, you can buy a garland of fragrant roses from one of the Berber children who line the route. If you are traveling in May then your guide will recommend you attend the annual Rose Festival held in the village to celebrate the New Year’s crops.
Option to visit Mount Mgougn and Sip Tea with Nomads in their rural cave. The Valley of Nomads is filled with cave dwellers who have lived in the Mgoun region for centuries.
Your journey will then take you through the Dadès Valley, which covers 125 km between Ouarzazate and Boumalne du Dadès in the High Atlas Mountains. Once you reach Boumalne at first sight you notice the limestone cliffs with uniquely shaped erosions and superb scenery and the valley’s pise (windy roads). Driving along you will pass flower filled fields, fertile fields, riverbanks and several fortified ksours. At the bottom of Gorge of Boumalne Dadès there are ruined hilltop Kasbahs and valley floor gardens.
Overnight at a Boutique Guest House in the Dades Valley.
Day 3: Dades Valley Departure to the Merzouga Sahara Desert. Visit the towns of Erfoud and Rissani en route to the Sahara Desert (Driving Time: 4 1/2 Hours)
Take the road to Merzouga. En route visit Erfoud, the capitol of fossils and the town of Rissani. Rissani is a Sahara desert town that is from the ancient Alawi Dynasty and the birthplace of King Mohammed VI, the current King of Morocco. Visit the old Mausoleum of Moulay Ali Sharif, the first King of the Alawi Dynasty. Next visit Maison Taureg House and then the old Ksar of Rissani. Continue the road to Erfoud.
Continue to Khemlia where you will visit Sudanese- Berber Gnaoua Trance musicians, Moroccan village. The Musicians of Khemlia have been living in this remote village for a century and perform 100 year-old Gnaoua Trance music songs. Spend an hour listening to Gnaoua Trance music using old world instruments by these Sudanese Berber Musicians. Tea is served and then there is an option to explore their village.
Arrive in Merzouga’s Erg Chebbi Dunes before sunset, and then go by dromedary at sunset into the Erg Chebbi Dunes to a bivouac camp. Your Tuareg guide will share some of the Sahara Deserts’ secrets. As you glide across humpback on these silent, mystical dunes there will be countless opportunities to photograph the endless rolling dunes.
Arabian Nights Dinner and Overnight at a Luxury Desert Camp in the Sahar Desert
Day 4: Merzouga Depature to the Berber Village of Ait Ouzzine then continue to Ouarzazate (Driving Time: 3 1/2 – 4 Hours
Sahara Desert Rise. Explore the region’s flora and fauna. Option to Quad ride in the Desert or go off road with your driver for a morning of desert discovery by 4×4 in the Erg Chebbi Dunes.
Take the road to Ait Ouzzine Berber Village located in the Saghro & Atlas Mountains en route to Merzouga. Arrive in N’kob in the early afternoon.
Aït Ouzzine is a Berber village inhabited by over 300 families who live in beautifully painted crenulated Kasbahs, with their own henna fields, water wells, livestock and gardens. This peaceful village is tucked away along an impressive desert route connecting the Draa Valley (Tansikht) and Rissani.
Meet a local Berber family; partake in a cooking lesson of how to make traditional bread and a tajine. Explore and tour the village by foot. Walk in the green fields and see how the traditional Berbers live with their gardens of herbs, livestock, and henna plants.
Sip tea with the Berbers in the Saghro Mountains and enjoy a traditional Berber lunch. The menu will include a traditional meal of fresh baked bread with spices and a chicken and vegetable tajine or couscous and fresh local fruits for desert.
After lunch, you can have your hands and feet painted with henna or your hair adorned with saffron by a local village artist and relaxes. Experience the tradition of Berber perfume made from musk and amber along with the villages own spices. End the afternoon in Ait Ouzzine with mint tea and almonds.
Overnight at a Boutique Riad in Ouarzazate.
Day 5: Ouarzazate Departure to Marrakech via the Tizzin’ Tichka Pass. En route visit the Oasis of Fint, the Altas & CLA Film Studios and Kasbah Taourirt en route. (Drivint Time: 5 Hours)
Visit the Oasis of Fint passing the « Plateau de pierres ». On this road you will find a shining Oasis of palms. Visit the Oasis of Fint that hovers under the Atlas Mountains. Journey on a one-hour walk inside the Oasis where you will have a cup of tea with the headmaster’s family Azziz Ouaziz and tour the surrounding area where date palm oases and dramatic desert scenery are king.
Next journey to the Atlas Film Studios. The studios are flanked by Holly-wood style Egyptian figures and cover 30,000 sq. m of desert. David Lean filmed Lawrence of Arabia at The Atlas Film Studios in the early 1960’s. Since then many famous directors have followed in his footsteps to exploit the magnificent scenery. International blockbusters shot here in recent years include: the French version of Cleopatra, Bertolucci’s Sheltering Sky, Scorsese’s Kundun, Gillies MacKannon’s Hideous Kinky, Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, Black Hawke Down, Oliver Stone’s Alexander The Great, Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven, and Penelope Cruz’s Sahara.
Take the road back to Marrakech.
GOLD SAHARA DESERT TOUR – PRIVATE TOUR HIGHLIGHTS:
►Visit Ait Benhaddou Ksar, Lawrence of Arabia was Filmed Here
►Explore Morocco’s Natural Wonder, the Grand Dades Valley
►Sunset Camel Trek across the Erg Chebbi Dunes
►Arabian Nights Dinner and Berber Music at a Luxury Desert Camp
►Go off road to Mount Mgoun and Sip Tea with Nomads
►Lunch with a Berber Family in the Saghro Mountain Region
►Discover the Valley of One Thousand Kasbahs in Skoura
►Stay in Boutique Moroccan Riads and Guest Houses
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