Expedition South of Morocco: 5 Days and 4 Nights

1st Day : Marrakech to Ait Ben Haddou-Ouarzazate, Roses Valley, Dades Valley

The journey starts with an 8:00 am pick up. We head south through olive trees and cactus fields, slowly following the high Atlas mountain range. Mud villages are scattered among the mountain sides, and you’ll notice barley and wheat growing along the terraces. Look for herds of goat and sheep grazing in the Cork Oak Forest, as shepherds keep a watchful eye on their herds. We will make several stops to take advantage of the amazing views and get some fresh air. Please feel free to ask to stop at any time to take some fantastic pictures!

As we reach the highest peak (Tizi N’ Tichka pass, 2260 meters), you will notice that the features of the landscape will change. Vivid reds, yellows, and greens wash over the countryside and you will be treated to some of the most attractive views in this fascinating region.

We will stop in Ksar of Ait Ben Haddou, a favorite destination for international film makers, such as Ridley Scott (Gladiator), David Benioff (Game of Thrones), Mike Newell (Prince of Persia), and many more. This ancient and beautiful village was once a check point, where trade caravans coming from the north (Marrakech) would stop to trade goods such as sugar, salt, and feathers. Wonder through the streets of this fascinating town and be transported to the past. This site has been classified as a human heritage site by UNESCO.

Ouarzazate is the next stage in our journey. We can stop and have lunch or just take picture of the Taorirt Kasbah. The town was once a military garrison at the beginning of the 20th century, but has since been developed by tourism and the movie industry.

On the way to Dades Valley, we will drive by thousands of Kashahs and then on to the Roses Valley where you can see beautiful roses along the road. We will drive through Kalaa M’gouna, which means ‘fortress’ and is located at an altitude of 1450m. Each year there is an annual festival the second week of May where thousands come to celebrate the roses.

We end day one in Dades Valley, passing some dramatic geological folds covered in limestone, and fields of fig, almond, and walnut trees. We will spend the night in a hotel where we will have dinner.

2nd Day: Dades Valley –Toudgha Gorges –Erfoud –Erg Chebbi ( sand dunes )

After breakfast, we head towards Boumalne Dades, continuing on to the Todgha Gorges which are located in the foothills of the high Atlas mountains. We will stop for pictures and you can talk a 30 minute walk into the heart of the huge cliffs. They rise up other 200 meters on both sides of you, and you’ll see families enjoying the river that runs through them. This area is also a paradise for mountaineers coming from different countries to practice their favorite hobby.

We drive through Tinjdad, then on to Erfoud, which is the fossil capital. This area used to be under the sea, so you will find a majority of the locals working in the fields, extracting fossils or working at the fossil factory. Erfoud was founded at the beginning of the 20th century as a military garrison, but was developed by tourism, movies, and the palm grove. The region provides good quality dates.

Less that an hour from Erfoud, the sand dunes loom. You will great dropped off and have some delicious mint tea in the inn’s hall. As sunset grows closer, you will mount camels and ride off into the desert surrounded my massive sand dunes and beautiful views followed by a beautiful sunset. Make sure to take a lot of pictures!

You will spend the night in a well equipped tent, there are mattresses, pillows, and lights. The camp is even equipped with a western style toilet. Spend the evening looking at the stars, while the locals feed you a delicious dinner and play music around the fire.

3rd DAY: Sand dunes –Rissani-AlnifTazzarineN’kobZagoura .

You’ll rise early the next day in time to see the sunrise. It is breathtaking! Then ride back to the inn where a shower and breakfast await.

Besides the ruins of Sijilmassa, Rissani town was among the oldest cities throughout Morocco. It was the center of trades coming from south Saharan to the north. The area was prosperous by the trade of gold, salt, weapons, ivory and spices .Rissani is the origin of the Alaouites dynasty, which ruled Morocco from 17th century until now by the current king, Mohamed the sixth .

The Rissani market “souk” is one of the most interesting markets in south. People living around used to come by donkeys, mules,cycles or cars for purchasing and selling as well. The souk displays vegetables, other foods, and cloths.

The Ziz valley is known as a ksar valley (fortified village), the ksar was developed originally as communal stronghold for sedentary populations, to preserve them from the attacks of enemies,such as nomadic tribes, The Oulad Abdelhalim Ksar, one of the ksours existing in the region, was built in 1900 .

The road past Alnif, a small town lived by Berbers, the area is known by the Trilobites, dating back to Paleozoic era .

During your travel today, the landscape is the “Reg” black rocky desert.

Lunch time in N’kob village, then driving through the off road for 02 hours via Palmeraie located in the heart of the black desert.

In the afternoon, we arrive to Zagoura town, established by the french powers during the protectorate. Your auberge is located in heart of one of the largest valleys in Morocco, called Draa valley.

4th Day : Zagoura-Tamgroute-M’hamidchgagua dunes .

The pick up at 09:00 in the morning and we head to Tamegroute, it contains the shrine of Mohamed Bou Nasri, the founder in 17th century. The Temgroute ksar also harbors a library displaying a collection of manuscripts, books of calligraphy with gold dust and saffron illuminations, algebra books, and Arabic literature. You can also see the pottery process here.

Have lunch in M’hamid village in the inn by the swimming pool, then drive to the Chigaga dunes, which can be reached only by four-wheel-drive. Drive about two hours through the sand dunes then through the rocky platform.

The sand dunes of Chigaga are unique because it is a wild area and it’s characterized by the highest dunes, more than 200 meters with spectacular scenery from the highest peak to observe the sunset.

Bivouac beside the dunes, sleeping in the nomad tent.

5th Day :Chigaga dunes-Foum zguit-Taznakht Marrakech.

Breakfast and leaving, heading towards Foum zguit, driving through the off road for 3 hours, sand dunes, dry lake of Iriki then the back desert of rock. Have a short stop in Foum Zguit then continue the road until Taznakhat for lunch time. Then to Marrakech in the afternoon.

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