Camels in the Sahara © commonsensible.org
Camels in the Sahara © commonsensible.org

Atlas Mountains and Sahara Desert tour

Our trip by 4x4 across the Atlas mountains and into the Sahara desert where we caught the perseid shower...

 

We hired a tour company to take us across the Atlas Mountains, staying overnight there, before going onto the Sahara, and spending another night there, before going on to Essaouira. It was the best money we spent in Morroco. Yes, there was lots of driving, but our driver stopped regularly, showed us some cool places, explained the history and culture, and more, of what we saw. We truly loved it and can't recommend it enough! We took so many photos, we just couldn't stop and the whole trip will stay in our hearts for ever. 

 

The Sahara, was absolutely the best bit, and we were lucky enough to catch the Perseid Meteor shower while we were there, which just made it a total fantasy! The colours, the aura of the place, the vibe; it's truly strange, has to be experienced and should be on everyone's bucket list!

 

The tour was (for laziness I've copied and pasted what they sent me!):

 

11 August 2015 Marrakech – Ait Benhaddou – Rose Valley– Dades Gorge

12 August 2015 Dades Gorge – Todra Gorge – Merzouga – Erg Chebbi

13 August 2015 Erg Chebbi – Nekob - Marrakech

 

PRIVATE tour based on 2 people: 279 Euros per person

 

Services included in price:

* Private A/C 4WD Vehicle throughout the tour + fuel

* Experienced English-speaking driver (Guide)

* Pick up and drop off at your accommodation in Marrakech

* En-suite room with A/C in Dades Gorge, with dinner and breakfast

* Overnight in Nomad desert bivouac with guide (private tents), with dinner and breakfast

* Camels & guide, including sandboarding

* Free time to explore the sites such as Ait Benhaddou, Kasbah, Walks, Canyons, breaks for photos, etc.

* Option to visit nomad or berber families

 

Services not included in price:

* beverages

* lunch

* tips

 

FURTHER INFORMATION:

CONTACT: Our local representative is Mohamed Elabdellaoui (Tel: + 212 667 291 025). Please feel free to contact him at any time (He was an absolute legend and made the trip what it was!)

MEET & GREET: Your driver will meet you in Marrakech at the reception of your riad at 8:00AM.

HEALTH REQUIREMENTS: Please discuss immunisation with your doctor in advance of your trip.

PASSPORTS & VISAS: On arrival in Morocco your passport must be valid for 6 months. On your flight you should be given a landing card to complete for Passport Control - you will need your riad name and address. You can also pick up a form in the Passport Control Hall. Visa requirements are country dependent but, for EU subjects, you only need to complete the landing card to obtain a Tourist Visa: http://www.morocco.embassyhomepage.com/index.htm

TRAVEL INSURANCE: You are advised to take out Travel Insurance as this is not included in the Price.

HOTELS: In some hotels, irrespective of category, it can take time for hot water to arrive in the shower.

MONEY: It is not possible to obtain Dirham outside Morocco. There are ATMs and a bureau de change at all major airports in Morocco. Taxi drivers accept Euros from the airport - €15 but please have €20 handy. ATMs are readily accessible in Morocco.

DRESS: You advised to cover from knee to above the elbow. From late summer through to late spring and winter, pack layers and a warm jacket; in summer a light-weight fleece or similar.

 

Continues after advert...

 

 

ITINERARY:

 

Day 1: Marrakech – Ait Benhaddou – Rose Valley – Dades Gorge

 

We will depart this morning from Marrakech at 8:00 am in the morning and start travelling Marrakech to Ouarzazate via the Tizi-n-Tichka Pass (2260m) the highest road pass in Morocco. The panoramic views of the High Atlas Mountains and magnificent landscapes, scenery peppered by small Berber villages typical of the region. We visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ait Benhaddou. This Kasbah is perhaps the most impressive and well-preserved fortress cities in Morocco. Built on a hilltop, Ait Benhaddou inspired many movie makers such as the Gladiator or Lawrence of Arabia were filmed here. The view from the upper heights of the Kasbah is awe-inspiring and worth the required climb through winding, narrow streets. Our travel continues along what is known as the Road of One Thousand Kasbahs passing the Skoura oasis. Then we continue to visit the Valley of the Roses (Kelaa M'Gouna) the center of Moroccan roses and rose products. Acres of Persian roses are grown and harvested here to create rose water, creams and soaps prized throughout Morocco and the world We continue passing the strange rock creation of Tamnalt Hills and we arrive to Dades Gorge carved by centuries by the Dades River. The natural scenery of red and mauve rocks tower above the road. Overnight in the heart of Dades Gorge, with dinner & breakfast. La Gazelle Du Dades: http://www.lagazelledudades.com/hotel_la_gazelle_du_dades.htm  (Awesome tagine and dahl soup by the way!)

 

Day 2: Dades Gorge – Todra Gorge – Merzouga – Erg Chebbi

 

We depart Dades Gorge after a leisurely breakfast and travel to another spectacular gorge Todra (the highest oasis in Morocco). The gorge is cut into the ochre-colored cliffs of the High Atlas. Its walls are 300 meters high and at their most narrow part are 20 meters apart. Then we depart Todra Gorge for Merzouga the doorway into the desert where your guide and camels will be waiting for you to carry you across the sandy dunes of the Moroccan Sahara. Camel trek as the sun set across the desert landscape, for approximately 1 to 2 hours to reach your desert camp for the night. Your guide will prepare for you refreshing mint tea and dinner of tagine. Romantic night full of stars. Overnight in a Nomad Tent, dinner & breakfast. (A really authentic and magical experience! We slept under the stars and also managed to get some sand surfing in!)

 

Hints and Tips:

* Baggy trousers are essential for riding a camel. Warm clothing for evenings and nights in winter when the temperature drops. In summer, use strong sun block, lip balm and UV safe sun glasses. A scarf or hat will be helpful to protect your face against wind and sun.

* Sneakers are preferred over hiking boots (avoid heavy trekking shoes on camels), and extra socks.

* You can leave your luggage with your driver - it will be safe. Only carry the essentials in a small bag. A torch is a useful addition, as well as water. Buy some in Merzouga to make it sufficient for your personal needs and always carry water with you when you go climbing the dunes.

* Alcohol (beer and wine) can be purchased en route from supermarkets and taken with you on the camels.

 

Day 3: Erg Chebbi – Nekob – Marrakech

 

Waking early, we have a chance to watch a spectacular sunrise over the swelling dunes of the desert before returning to Merzouga to shower and depart. We visit the ancient city of Rissani the place from which Arab dynasties first came to Morocco. We see men wearing the indigo blue robes distinctive of the Saharan people. Then we head towards the volcanic mountains of Sarhro dramatic rock formations and gorges with superb views. We meet with the largest oasis of Morocco Draa valley, lined up by many palm groves. Later in the afternoon, we cross the Atlas Mountains to return back to Marrakech. The expected arrival in Marrakech at about 6:00 pm.

 

What a trip it was! Really AMAZING! You can email them with this address: moroccodeserttour@gmail.com or their Tripadvisor page is here!

 

Andrew

 

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Atlas and Sahara photos: Click on the arrows to scroll, or on the image for a larger version (in a pop-up)

Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert

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